Google Plus continues to dominate tech news on many websites as Google publishes new tweaks of the service every day. I've been reading and testing to figure out how and why you, as a retail jewelry store owner, should get involved in Google+.
I suppose I should tell you about the video chat feature called a Hangout. Google gave us a brand new way to video conference between people. This feature allows you to video conference up to 9 friends to communicate directly through your webcam.
In a Hangout, you can all see each other in small thumbnail videos while the person talking is presented in a larger video window. The Hangout also has a chat, and a way to watch YouTube videos together.
It's quite fascinating and I know I'll find it useful when I want to hold a conference with my team when I'm traveling, but at the moment I don't see a specific business use for you.
On the other hand, the Hangout is the perfect place for you to gather with your family and share pleasant life moments and stories. It's so easy that we might actually be looking at the evolution of the video phone. Before entering the Hangout, you see a message that tells you to check your hair and appearance. I found that extremely funny since in the past I've heard many people tell me they would never use video conferencing because their hair might be messy.
I'm hoping they eventually add Hangout ability to share files, photos from your albums, or other online resources besides video.
The other feature we just finished reviewing is called Huddle. This is a feature in the smartphone app for Google+ and currently only available on Android, but expected any day now for the iPhone.
Through the Huddle feature, you can hold a text messaging conversation between yourself and several other people at one time. Each person in the Huddle sees every text message sent to the group, and each can reply to the group.
This is not new technology. The Brightkite location-based service already has this functionality, but that smartphone app is not popular.
Like the Hangout, the Huddle feature is not designed for business. I was hoping for a group text messaging feature that you could use for weekly announcements, but everyone in the group can reply and your customers would be very pissed off at you.
On the other hand, the Huddle is the perfect way to start a group conversation with your immediate family. You could send a message out to your spouse and two children at the same time saying "Be home at 6:30 for dinner" or "I'm selling an engagement ring tonight and will be home late from the shop."
Another cool use of the Huddle will come when you attend your next jewelry show. In preparation for the show, you could create a Google+ Circle with all your industry peers. Once you get to the show, you would initiate a Huddle with the Circle and share your findings as you walk the trade show floor.
In fact, that might be the best way to inform your friends during the day instead of the "Oh did you see..." conversations over dinner each evening.
I've been making a list of the hinted features that may be added to Google+. Google as a company hasn't made any specific announcements, but the Google team working on the project are very chatty and have provided some clues.
I'll tell you about them tomorrow.
Thanks for reading,
Jeweler Website Advisory Group