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Google+ Hangouts Offer a Whole New Social World for Connecting

En español | Editor’s Note: AARP TEK stands for technology, education, and knowledge. TEK helps people 50-plus who want plain language and user-friendly information on how to best use personal technology. The free program provides comprehensive online and in-person technology tips, trends, tools and hands-on lessons.

When I joined Google+, the element that made my jaw drop was the social network’s video Hangouts. Not long ago, I worked in a television newsroom. For years, I had to work with a director to switch between cameras when people talked. It sounds silly, but Hangout changes cameras based on who is talking. You don’t need a director to switch between cameras to get a really great conversation rolling online.

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Jen Lee Reeves is AARP's social media trainer. — Ian Cunningham

Google+ Hangouts are as customizable as any other post you share on the social network. You can open up a Hangout and invite the general public to join in on the conversation. You can also just invite specific people.

See also: Step-by-step guide on how to use Google+ Hangouts (PDF)

The AARP social team meets in a Google Hangout each Monday morning to check in on the week ahead and teach one another tips and tools we’re using at work. The only people who attend are inside a circle I created for the team. It’s possible to invite additional people if needed. Hangouts are just a more interactive webcam chat.

Along with using Hangouts to connect with people for work, I’ve used Hangouts to present information to conferences I could not attend in person and brought in people to speak in classes I teach when they couldn’t be there in person. Hangouts give you the ability to share your computer screen and even play YouTube videos. It’s a space where you can be creative with one or many people.

You can follow a TEK social media step-by-step guide to see how Hangouts work. You can also download additional documents on how to use Google+ and many other social networks on the TEK social media training page.

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