Initially part of deprecated Google Plus, Google Hangouts is a great way to gather with friends, get some face to face conversation time and just hold a video based conference call. It is a unique platform, and one that is used by people all over whether they are frequent on Google+ or not.
But there are also some more creative ways to use the tool that you might not have thought of. Here are three other ways to make life easier – and more interesting – with Google Hangouts.
Google Hangout Support Groups
A friend of mine has been dealing with depression for a long time, along with a series of other related issues. She used to attend group therapy a few times a week to cope, but her job relocated her to a new state. The nearest support group was in another city, about a two hour drive both ways. She couldn’t manage that with her schedule, and she began to fall under the effects of her depression once again.
I suggested to her that she find an online community, like a forum, to gain support from. She went a step further. Contacting some of the people from her group back in her last city that had been struggling to make meetings, she set up a Google Hangout once a week. They would all gather together and conduct their own mini meetings that helped my friend a great deal. She is still a part of those hangouts today, which have grown.
Meetings and Conference Calls
Google has always been very forward thinking when it comes to business integration for their products. Especially where collaboration is concerned, and Google Hangouts is no exception. The uses for companies and freelancers alike are immediately obvious when looking at this service, and people have definitely been taking advantage of it.
I have so far had three Hangouts with other people I have been working on projects with. It makes it so much easier for us all to get an idea of what the client wants, and to delegate work. A website I work for has a meeting once a week between all the writers, editors and the webmaster/administrator to set the tasks for the next five days. It has made things so much simpler in every way.
In a similar thread, some businesses have been using it for customer service purposes. It allows them to engage with customers face to face, which has several benefits. One of the best parts about this is that it keeps the conversation more civil in what could easily become a heated situation. Customers are less likely to get angry at the agent when they see their face, and agents will often try harder to solve the problem.
Concerts and Performances
I have only personally known of one instance of Google Hangouts being used for something like this, though I understand it is growing in popularity. Someone I know is both an assistant professor of dramatic arts at a US based university, and an avid performance artist. She writes, directs and stars in many stage productions in her city, and has carved out a nice little following as a result.
Both she and several others she works with have widened their audience by recording the performance live and streaming it on Google Hangouts. Since they are rather small, low budget performances, it makes it a lot easier for them to do so.
I live in another state, but I have caught several of her shows and directed others to check her out. It has been a great experience.
Do you have some interesting ideas for using Google Hangouts more creatively? Let us know in the comments.