What are Google+ Hangouts?

By Liam Foy

With the increasing ‘popularity’ of Google+ Hangouts we thought we’d give you the chance to understand them a bit better and walk you through how to start a Hangout, how to invite people and the sharing capabilities of Hangouts.

We’ll start with the easy question, “What is a Google+ Hangout?”

Hangouts are the best way for you to say, “I’m online and want to hangout!” and they let you:

  • Use live video chat that puts you in the same room together!
  • Coordinate plans, whether it’s working on a project or meeting up for coffee.
  • Maybe you’re bored. Start a hangout, invite your circles, see who’s around!

No one owns a hangout. That means that anyone in the hangout can invite anyone else. So while your hangout could start with a group of people that you know, it could evolve into a completely different crowd.

“How do i start a Hangout?”

This part is really simple you can either go to plus.google.com/hangouts or simply click the Start a Hangout button on the side of your stream (like in the image below).

GooglePlus Hangouts - Starting a Hangout

You’ll be taken to a “green room” where we’ll help you get your camera set up and choose additional circles or individuals to add. No one can see you while you’re in the green room. Once you click the Hang Out button your video feed will be broadcast.

GooglePlus Hangouts - Green Room

Now to add some more people to your Hangout.  Click Invite at the top of the hangout window, add the circles or people you want to share with, and click Invite.

GooglePlus Hangouts - Inviting People

Want to share a YouTube video with your hangout?

GooglePlus Hangouts - Sharing a YouTube Video

Everyone can watch YouTube videos together in a hangout. Just click the YouTube button. Then search for and select a video that you want to watch as a group. Anyone in the hangout can play, pause, or change a video.

To cut down on echos, everyone is muted by default while the YouTube player is open. You can click the Push to Talk button underneath the video to talk.

The volume control of the YouTube player is specific to each person. That means you can set what volumes you are comfortable with without affecting other people in the hangout.

If you mute the YouTube video, the Push to Talk button will disappear and your mic will be activated.

If you un-mute your mic, the YouTube video will be muted.

Screensharing? Easy!

Screen sharing lets you give other people the ability to see what’s on your computer screen. For example, if there’s a picture open on your computer screen, meeting participants can look at it without having to download anything.

To share:

  • Click ‘Screenshare’ at the top of your screen
  • In the window that pops up, choose your desktop or choose the window you want to present
  • Click ‘Share Selected Window’

You can stop sharing your screen at any time by clicking Screenshare again.

The jury is still out on Google+. There remains a general sense of worry that the Pages offering, though compelling in some respects, does not offer enough new value to truly compete with Facebook and Twitter, as a haven for corporate social media. With Hangouts though, Google are onto a winner. At this moment in time Facebook don’t look like they are able to compete with the Hangout, simply because it would require a total overhaul of Skype. Does Facebook have the power to do that? Probably not. So for the time being Google+ finally has something better than Facebook.

Are you a fan of Google+ Hangouts? Let us know your thoughts in the comments….

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This post was written by Liam Foy

As Head of Client Services, Liam ensures that all of his clients’ strategies are on track, delivering ROI and coming up with new ideas to drive them forward. Beer makes him tick, reading, learning and drinking it.