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The New Internet “Hangout”

It’s no secret military families are experts when it comes to staying in touch. From deployments to PCSs, military families regularly face challenges that require figuring out new ways to communicate with loved ones.

One (free!) resource that many people overlook is the Google+ social media platform. Like Facebook and Twitter, Google+ lets users keep in touch and share information. One element that sets Google+ apart is the Hangout feature. This free video chat service allows up to 10 people to video conference online—perfect for communicating during deployments and moves.

If you have a Gmail account, then you have a Google+ account. Check out plus.google.com to fill out your profile and get started. Here is some information about Google+ to help.

  • Post/share: Like posting on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter, posting and sharing on Google+ are ways to share content (videos, articles, opinions, life updates, etc.) with your followers.
  • Circle: To sort groups of people and organizations, you can put them in circles that you want to follow on Google+. Placing someone in a circle is the equivalent of friending or following someone. You can customize your circles based on categories like family, friends, work, geographical location—the possibilities are endless.
  • Stream: A stream is your Google+ feed with updates and shares from people you follow, as well as posts that are “hot” (popular) on Google+.
  • Uncircle: Uncircling a person or group is the equivalent of unfriending or unfollowing someone.
  • +1’ed/plussed: This is the Google+ version of “liking” content or putting it on your favorites list.

So, why Google+ instead of Skype? Google+’s Hangout feature is a way to video chat with up to 10 people for free (while Skype charges for video chat with more than one person). At the same time, it integrates Google+, Google Drive, and YouTube.

If you have a free Google Voice account, then you can make and receive landline and mobile calls from anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. For a relatively small fee, you can call overseas as well.

Still need convincing? You can host online events through Google+ that are similar to webinars and allow you to share information with attendees through a live feed, including video and screen sharing. For even more information, visit Google’s “About Hangouts” page here.

Check out Google+, especially Hangouts, and let us know what you think!

Bonus: Watch this video Google made about how Google+ is connecting military families. Warning: Grab the tissue box first!

deployment military family social media