How to Use Participatory Hangouts to Market Your Brand

Google+ Hangouts are about building relationships with people — in particular, with your customers. However you use the advantages of Hangouts, the main goal should always be to meet your customers and give them as many opportunities as possible to participate and be a part of the team for your brand. Here are a few tips:

  • Send select groups of customers some sample products to try out in the Hangouts you host. More brands should embrace this technique. The secret to a good social media campaign is when you don’t have to call in the heavy-hitter influencers, and you can get your existing fans and their friends all sharing good stuff about your brand with each other.

    You can reach many more millions of people by embracing the crowd from the bottom up (by having millions of your customers all talking about your brand with their hundreds of friends) instead of going from the top down (by having a few influencers share with their millions of followers).

    Try sending several lucky fans some samples of your products to try out, with the stipulation that they do the trial in a Google+ Hangout that you organize. Set the date and time for each, and get all of them opening and trying out your products at the same time on air (or you could have them do so on separate occasions or in sequence).

    Broadcast this trying-out to your fans, and voilà — instantly you’ve made contact with a much larger public audience of normal, everyday customers who may be watching alongside and can associate with people just like themselves.

    In addition, you’re having normal, everyday people share their thoughts about your product live, on air, for all your customers and potential customers to see. This approach of affecting hundreds to millions of your common customers is, if you can do it right, so much more powerful than sending products to only a few influencers.

  • Create “office hours” for customers to meet your employees. You should provide support opportunities for your customers using Hangouts. This is a great way to let your customers interact face to face with employees of your company and truly get their questions answered. Just set up a time once or twice a week for customers to join a Hangout with your employees, where they can ask you questions directly.

    Use this as an opportunity to give tours of your office. Show the viewers who works there. Bring in your executives if possible. Truly try to open the curtain on your brand as much as you can so your customers can see that your organization is run by real people just like your customers. This approach makes your brand easier for viewers to identify with.

  • Make sure your employees are controlling the show. It’s vital that you’re not just putting on a PR front for your organization or brand. Bring in the real employees behind your brand as you host your Google+ Hangouts. Bring in the executives. Find the most interesting people in the company, and let them host the Hangouts. Those who generate customer interest can get more people interacting with your brand.

  • “Show off” your customers as much as you can. There’s nothing more complimentary to a customer than to have the companies he’s passionate about “show him off” to other customers of the brand. People like attention. They like to get recognized when they deserve it.

    Find opportunities to bring your customers into as many conversations as you can. If you’re broadcasting to a large audience, let some of your customers be in the broadcast to that audience. The audience then feels like “one of their own” is there with you, and it makes your broadcast much more personal for each person watching.

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