20 March 2014

Google Hangouts - Letting It All Hang Out?

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Google Hangouts

I can recall thinking not so long ago that Google Hangouts wouldn’t really be used all that much – at least not by me anyway.

I was often using Skype to make a lot of video calls to my overseas friends, a large number of people know and use Skype, so if I needed to call someone the chances are they can be contacted via Skype, making it the obvious option for me.

Group video sessions or ‘Hangouts’ aren’t really a new thing but unlike a lot of new ideas, which usually start with a bang, I felt it might struggle- similar to how Google+ didn’t really immediately take off. Of course now that Google+ is integrated into some of the most popular social platforms ever (YouTube), it’s hard to get away from. I must admit that it did bring one feature that saved me a lot of time and that is when you engage with a video on YouTube and someone responds with a comment or +1. I don’t have to look in my emails and follow the trail, I can see at a glance how a user has responded without leaving the page I’m currently on- very cool.

Anyway, back to Hangouts- I started using Hangouts maybe a year or so ago when Skype was crashing whilst I wanted to speak to my friends in the US. We looked at several alternatives, including Facebook, which is powered by Skype and ended up being utterly hopeless, and then my friend suggested we try a Google Hangout! One thing I’ve always appreciated about anything Google does is speed- it was quick and easy but still felt a bit like a novelty. That was the case until I started Google+ more within my professional role as it has become more widely used to discuss search marketing - Google+ and search marketing, go figure! In order to participate in Webmaster Hangouts, AdWords Hangouts and independently hosted search discussions I had to get used to using Google Hangouts. Now I’m sold- it’s really easy to use, it reminds me a lot of other Google products I use in that it’s so intuitive. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my years of marketing it is that users are really impatient and if they have to think for more than a few seconds then it’s not usually worth their time bothering. What Google has done with Hangouts is take the thought process away; you don’t really have to do anything, it just works.

Ironically, after having been an early sceptic, I have now been invited by Google to participate in a live Hangout. How one’s mind can be changed once it has been opened…

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