What is Google Hangout and how can you join the party? Hangouts bring conversations to life with photos, emoji, and even group video calls for free. While somewhat similar to Skype, FaceTime and Facebook Video Chat, Google Hangouts focuses more on “face-to-face-to-face” group interaction as opposed to one-on-one video chats, and utilizes sophisticated technology to seamlessly switch the focus to the person currently chatting.

How does a business take advantage of Google Hangouts? According to Mashable, real-world examples of small businesses using Hangouts aren’t hard to find. BakeSpace, a Los Angeles-based a digital publishing platform for cooking enthusiasts, has been a Google Plus success story. More than 360,000 people have BakeSpace in their Circles on Google Plus. Comparatively, BakeSpace has just around 14,000 “Likes” on Facebook. Babette Pepaj, founder of BakeSpace, says that the brand had the luck to be featured as a suggestion in Google Plus’s Food and Drink section. She also says she got tired of trying to figure out the algorithm for News Feed and of paying to advertise on Facebook.

Mashable continues with the case study, citing that BakeSpace has hosted about 40 Hangouts. A recent Hangout was a tutorial on cupcake decorating tips. Another featured Steven and OJ Williams, the founders of Chamelon Cold Brew Coffee. The Hangouts, which are easily found on the brand’s YouTube channel or its Google Plus page, manage to humanize the brand as well.

There are many ways for small business owners to use Google+ Hangouts to connect with their customers, build their brands, monetize their businesses, and create buzz. How do you use it?