's social network Google+
launched last year, it managed to amass 10 million users in just 16 days. This is astounding considering that it took both Twitter and Facebook two years to hit that many users and that Google+ now has more than 90 million users.
Since Google opened the network to brands in November, they have experimented with how to best to use it to engage with consumers and one tool that has so far been adopted not just by brands including Coca-Cola
, but politicians including President Barack Obama
and even The Muppets
, is Google+ Hangouts
. The video chat tool makes it possible for nine people to talk to each other at once using their webcams.
Back in November The Muppets used Google Hangouts to promote their new film. The fuzzy creatures also starred in a Google+ ad
, where they were seen jamming to the Queen Hit 'Under Pressure'.
To promote its sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics Cadbury
enlist British BMX rider Shanaze Reade
(Olympian and 4 time BMX World Champion) to participate in a Hangout Cadbury UK's Google+ page
. Reade (who is one of the athletes the brand is sponsoring) answered questions from fans and Cadbury posted a video of the Hangout to YouTube
. Cadbury has said the Hangout was 'the first of many we hope' and asked its Google+ fans what they would like to see the brand do in a Hangout.
Ahead of the Super Bowl
football team The New York Giants
hosted a social media night broadcast from the team hotel in Indianapolis, which was broadcast live online. Fans could ask players questions via Google+, Twitter or Facebook. Twenty football fans took part in Google+ Hangouts with players Victor Cruz, Corey Webster, Mark Herzlich, and Henry Hynoski. For a chance to be randomly selected for the live chat fans had to add the Giants to their circles and visit their Google+ page.
Coca-Cola is planning to launch its own Hangout next week. The event will feature Ted Ryan and Jamal Booker from the Coca-Cola Archives, the largest collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia in the world, who will answer questions from participants. The unscripted Hangout will involve the archivists showing off Olympics memorabilia and a document showing Coca-Cola's original 1887 patent award. The Hangout participants will include the first eight people to log in.
Other brands who have adopted the Google Hangout include department store Macy's, which asked people to post their style questions on its Google+ page for the chance to chat live with Fashionista executive editor and mBlog Style blogger, Leah Chernikoff.
Contagious Insight /
Google is working hard and spending money to push its social network - from its ad starring The Muppets to a heartstring-pulling TV ad
featuring a new dad, which aired during the Grammy's and showed off Google+ Instant Upload, a feature where every picture you take on your phone is instantly backed up to a private Google+ album. However it's still too early to tell whether Google is going to find its social networking niche or if it will never be able to fight the likes of Facebook. Nonetheless, brands using Google+'s functionality in interesting ways are worth paying attention to and there are several advantages for brands or celebrities using a tool like Hangout.
A Google+ Hangout is an intimate, personal space and being invited to converse with a brand this way can have a powerful effect. For someone like President Obama, using Google + positions him as more human and authentic. He can also appear to be on the forefront of cutting-edge modern technology.
Brands do need to carefully consider who they put in front of the webcam to act as their representative. President Obama or the NY Giants command a certain amount of respect that would help prevent a Hangout conversation from getting out of hand. But for a brand like Cadbury to use an athlete or Coca-Cola to use its archivists to host a Hangout, rather than its corporate bigwigs, also steers the conversation in a certain way. The consumers are more likely to concentrate on positive topics, rather than attack the brands.
Hangouts can also be used for more focused purposes than just simply conversing with a brand. Dell company chairman and CEO Michael Dell, who himself has hosted Hangouts, suggested that the tool be used for dedicated customer service and sales. He posted the following question on Google+: 'I am thinking about hangouts for business. Would you like to be able to connect with your Dell service and sale teams via video directly from Dell.com?'