How to Build Branded Layers on Top of Google+ Hangouts - dummies

How to Build Branded Layers on Top of Google+ Hangouts

By Jesse Stay

Web marketers can use Google+ Hangouts by building on top of them. Google+ Hangouts provides a special API as well, and you can build yet another layer of online experiences with a developer and a Google+ Hangout:

  • Build an app experience that multiple people can participate in live and use at the same time. The classic example of this would be a board game. You could create a board game for your brand and have every member of the Hangout play in that board game, communicating and enjoying the time together in the experience you built live, on video, with friends.

    You should think of experiences you can build that allow multiple people to participate together and allow each of them to have a part. You can access the names and profile IDs of all participants in a Google+ Hangout. Find ways to incorporate those participants into the Google+ Hangout experiences you create.

    You can then create Hangout experiences for your users and customers that they can launch — and play along with their friends. Those friends can then share with their friends. Soon, you’re creating face-to-face experiences among those who are passionate about your brand, and giving new customers the opportunity to be introduced to those people (and their enthusiasm) at the same time.

  • Create layers on top of the videos of each participant in a Hangout. Google+ has created its own experience around this, providing reindeer antlers, bunny ears, and clown faces that you can put over your face during the video. (Not all apps have to be this silly. Honest.)

    Maybe you create a dashboard that goes around the user’s picture in the Hangout, showing stats about what that user is doing in the Hangout. Maybe you give your users the opportunity to brand themselves in the Hangouts they participate in. Maybe you give them a little virtual badge they can “wear” to each Hangout they join. All these tweaks are possible with Hangout overlays.

  • Control elements of the Hangout. You have access to every element of the Hangout through the Google+ Hangouts API. You can use that API to create your own dashboards, and even control (for example) whose image appears as the main image in the middle of the screen and create your own stats around each Hangout.

    Although you can’t create your own Hangout experiences on your own website, you can launch them from your website, and maybe from there you can start to provide information that supports your brand — say, which customers of yours are currently participating in Hangouts or the average length of time they participate. This feature offers multiple opportunities to entice your customers to get in and meet other customers in your Hangouts.