Google+ may not have looked like a surefire thing at first, but it’s

starting to gain traction. Last year, visitors to the social site spent only around two minutes there. Recent studies have shown that the average Google+ now spends a little over seven minutes, with another increase expected now that Youtube users can link their Google+ accounts to channels. While

Google+ is still building its audience, you can get in early by

Google+ utilizing

one of its more promising features for brand marketing, Google+ hangout. 

What is Hangout? 

Google+ Hangout is what has replaced Google Chat and Google Talk.

Google+ Described

by Google as a combination of chat, messaging and video services all in place, Hangout essentially acts as both a video conference and a live broadcast at the same time. 

You can make Google+ Hangout sessions private or stream them publicly to your connected Youtube channel. Up to ten people can participate in the session as long as they have a webcam, while several people can watch and listen to your broadcast at the same time. 

Whatever you stream is saved automatically to your account at Youtube unless you’ve made the Hangout private. If you do make it private, you can record it for use later using screen capture software. 

Public streams travel fast once they’re saved to your Youtube account. The session is immediately shared on your Google+ page and you’ll receive a url and embed code for use on other social media websites, including Facebook. 

How Does it Work? 

Everyone directly involved in the Hangout session must have a Google+ account. You’ll give your session a name using the “Start Hangout” button in your account and invite users to it. Since you’ll need to have any other scheduled participants signed in and in front of their webcams at the same time, a Hangout does involve a little bit of planning ahead. 

As long as it’s set for public viewing, all you have to do is press “Start Broadcasting” to stream live to Youtube once everyone is ready. Once you’re done, use the “Stop Broadcasting” button to stop the stream. 

There are some moderation tools, such as “Mute” and “Block,” available to you during the Hangout if you need to cut a participant. You can save the Hangout video for editing using Youtube’s tools or your own software if you need to polish the session before posting.