Above the Parapet has been using Hangouts for weekly meetings with a team member based in the Philippines, said the marketing firm's owner, Melissa Andrews. Every member of the company's small staff works from home, and using Hangouts means saving time and money on travel, she said.
"Usually it's three of us on screen at the same time," two in Australia and one in the Philippines, "and then we just run through where we are with the project," Andrews said. "It's good because we can also do screen sharing and open up the same document to be poking through at the same time."
Andrews said the call quality over Hangouts is generally good, however it can depend on users' broadband connections. She said the service has worked well over the ADSL2 connection in her home office.
Both Andrews and Knapp said they previously tried Skype for videoconferencing. Andrews said she was frustrated by frequent service dropouts on the free version of Skype. Knapp reported no call quality problems, but said he likes how Hangouts is integrated with Gmail. "It is pretty convenient to be able to do video chat from inside of email."
Knapp added the he likes sharing screens on Hangouts, but wishes it was possible to simultaneously show a presentation and video of the other person on the call.
Searching for customers on Google+
Above the Parapet and Shoes of Prey each have a presence on multiple social media platforms. The companies have had different levels of success engaging customers on Google+.
Andrews' company has 46 followers on Google+, 49 on Twitter and 25 on Facebook, she said. Andrews said she's seen the fastest growth on Google+, but the best social media engagement is on LinkedIn.
Google's recently launched Communities, a feature allowing users to form shared interest groups, has helped Andrews build contacts for a renewable energies conference she is working on, she said.
However, Knapp said Shoes of Prey hasn't had much success with its Google+ page, which is far less active than its Facebook page.
The Shoes of Prey website doesn't list the Google+ page under a "Follow Us" navigation on its main website, and while Shoes of Prey updated the Facebook page nearly 10 times in January, as of this writing it hadn't updated the Google+ page for nearly four months.
The reason for the disparity comes down to the number of followers, Knapp said. The Facebook page has 111,000 followers; the Google+ page has only 525. "At the moment it just doesn't make a lot of sense to spend a huge amount of time on it."
However, Knapp admitted it's a "chicken and egg" scenario. "If you don't devote enough time to it, you don't produce meaningful results ... It's more just an oversight that we haven't done it. I think it's something we should do."
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