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Why Google+ Hangouts Is A Content Manager’s Best Friend

Most online search fanatics are acutely aware of Google’s most popular – and might I add free – services. In fact, sometimes we’re overloaded with the amount of features and technologies available.  Despite the multitude of Google tools and apps that exist, I only use a few.  For me, my favorite Google service is Gmail.  For you, it might be Google Maps.  However, I honestly could care less about Google Patent Search or Google Fusion Tables.  Why? Because I’m a content manager, and I want to make the most out of Google’s social and communication tools that can help me leverage quality, original content.  As the manager of communications and content strategy at VideoSurveillance.com, we needed an extremely unique and innovative way to engage others, and also to provide people with valuable, helpful information that would prove beneficial to them in the long run.  We then discovered Google+ Hangouts.  Speaking of which, here’s a Google+ Hangout screen shot of my supervisor and I having a good ol’ time:

Why Google+ Hangouts Is A Content Manager’s Best Friend image Ellen Steve Webinar screen shot 600x382

The Future of Webinars

Imagine Skype, Ekiga, or Webex:  All three of these online platforms are designed for video conferencing and video chat, among other communicative features.  Google+ Hangouts is like all three on steroids. And the possibilities are endless, might I add – oh and free.  If you’re a business owner, manager/professional, or content manager, and are looking for clever, visually-striking ways of drawing in your audience, then consider creating a Google+ Hangout.  Host meetings, broadcast your conversation to anyone, and speak face-to-face with whomever you choose.   Best of all, it takes just a couple of seconds to download the plug-in. When I first tried out this innovative feature, I remember I was able to stream a live hangout in a matter of four seconds once I clicked on “Start a Hangout” at the top right of the page.Unique to Google+ Hangouts is that up to 10 people can join in on a ‘hangout,’ so it’s perfect for not only business-related webinars, but also for discussing plans and details with groups and friends.  Heck, even the President is a fan.  It’s catching on, and it’s about time you weave it into your marketing efforts.

I’m here to explain how you can employ Google+ Hangouts to garner publicity, open up a dialogue, create a face for your company, connect with other experts in your business field, show off your creativity, and most importantly, give your viewers something to remember your business by, whether it’s a tip, suggestion, or instruction on how to do something. Consider ideas like:  Managing your finances, choosing a vacation spot, buying the right computer, or discussing the latest fashion trends. It doesn’t matter what you sell, because you can apply it to a wide range of market groups.  Notably, you can create a transcript of the video, and record your Google+ Hangout to YouTube so you have it saved for viewing at a later date.  You can also edit the webinar video on YouTube or use another video editing software platform to enhance its appearance.  And you  might want to consider taking out all the “Uhs,” and “Ums,” in the webinar video that people often say inadvertently.

You’re probably wondering how VideoSurveillance.com, an online reseller of IP surveillance cameras and security products, was able to make use of Google+ Hangouts.  It doesn’t matter what service your company offers or what it sells.  Google+ Hangouts, if used correctly, is your best friend.   I wanted to share a few notes on our experience using Google+ Hangouts in the hope of helping your company or your content management team bolster your marketing plan and reach out to a broader audience.  The point is that any business can take advantage of it.  And here’s how we did:

#1 Preparation:

It’s always up to me to come up with original content ideas and discussions that educate our global market base in an exciting, easy-to-digest way.  The key thing to remember is that no matter what you sell, you can create a webinar or instructional video.  We then scheduled a Google+ Hangout Webinar titled:  Before the Storm: New Approaches in Identifying & Preventing Workplace Violence.  We knew we wanted to reach out to nationally-recognized panelists who could offer their expertise in this area, including human resources and psychology  We then enlisted our PR firm to find two  experts who were willing to participate in the webinar and offer constructive suggestions and proven practices to improve workplace safety and prevent workplace violence.  We were stoked – we had our group of panelists ready to participate. Now we needed to execute the webinar marketing plan, and most importantly, the webinar itself!

#2 Marketing Plan:

Email blasts, email blasts, email blasts.  Once you’ve locked down your panelists for a Google+ Hangout, it’s time to brag about it through a variety of marketing channels, including email blasts & reminders,  blog outreach, social media sites, and press releases.  Get the word out!  You’re hosting a valuable webinar that will provide useful advice to potentially hundreds to thousands of viewers.  We sent out an email blast to our customers a week prior, and then sent out two more reminders to encourage our customers to sign-up and view the live broadcast.  Just try not to annoy your customer base:  More than three emails shouts desperation.

#3 Set-up:

Learn how to use Google+ Hangouts.  Don’t assume that everything will work out perfectly. In fact, the first time we tested it, we had a few technical problems with audio and the actual cameras.  So, if you don’t have a built-in microphone on your computer it’s best you buy a lapel microphone for crystal clear audio.  Make sure you have a camera available on your laptop or an actual webcam that you can purchase at most electronics and retail stores.  Mount your camera at eye-level so you’re not looking up at it when you’re intoning words of wisdom   Also, speak in front of a plain background and don’t eat!  This concerns business owners and professionals who want to be taken seriously. Do you think I’m going to listen or care what you have to say if you’re sitting at a laptop in front of a cat tree while eating cereal? Definitely not; I’d be laughing too hard.  It’s easy to invite non-Google+ users to your hangout as well.  Follow the instructions on Google+ Hangouts and watch the instructional videos.  Do a run-through prior to the actual webinar. I promise it’ll be worth it.

#4 Execution:

Finally, it’s the day of the webinar. Wear a swanky outfit imbued with professionalism and likability.  Make certain that all of your panelists are prepared and ready to join the hangout at the scheduled time. Create a “script” prior to the webinar.  Offer strong talking points.  We made sure it didn’t go over an hour, as not to bore the living daylights out of our viewers.  Finally, take questions from your attendees. If you had 40 people sign up for the webinar, and had asked them to submit questions prior to the webinar, answer a few!  It shows you want to connect to your audience and focus on what their concerns are, not just yours.  We streamed the webinar live for our attendees to watch, and kept a recorded version up for others to watch at a later date.  Keep it up on your website for as long as possible, especially if it’s relevant information that won’t expire. In a nutshell, we rocked it.  Our panelists did an excellent job, and we were as prepared as ever to share our points and talk about how important surveillance was to protecting the workplace.

#5 Lastly – It’s FREE:   Forget about hosted webinar sites that charge a hefty fee for creating a quality video webinar.  Have you seen some of the webinars posted by other sites? Snooze fest!  Sorry, but I don’t want to watch PowerPoint slides deluged with bullet points that are read by people with monotone voices.  End of story.  Many of these hosted webinar services cost money because they assume we’re lazy and can’t create one ourselves.  But we can, and I’ve given you the tools you need to get started, whether it’s a webinar, a how-to video for your readers, a question-and-answer segment, or a promotional video that you feel would best be conveyed through Google Hangouts+.  Sites such as ReadyTalk.com, InfiniteConferencing.com, and GoToMeeting.com are costly, and tedious to set-up and implement.  You can do much better than that with a simple, easy-to-use, FREE platform like Google+ Hangouts.

I hope my suggestions have made a difference in the way you think about webinars.  Finally, there’s a way to host a webinar that’s  interesting to watch and learn from.  A Google+ Hangout can be easily hosted, broadcasted live, and posted on your website. Google+ Hangouts is a true slice of awesome content that should be harnessed by marketing and business professionals. And, don’t forget to check out our Workplace Violence Prevention webinar to see how we deployed this future-proof marketing method.

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  1. Nice write up on Hangouts on Air… I use them frequently and help others do them as well. Another tip for prep. would be to try a test hangout with each of your guest panelists before the ‘big day’.

    Do a private or Regular Hangout with them to be sure all is working well and let them experience the process in a less pressure filled situation. Practice makes Perfect!

    I’ve got loads of other tips, but that one should really help. And oh… don’t forget that simply using regular Hangouts for meet & greet meetings will make a world of difference when you first meet someone new! Thanks for your post, I’ll share it with some newbies!

  2. Thanks for your article on Google Hangouts. I am exploring how best to use social media to create brand awareness of Tschetter Studio artisan jewelry. There are so many choices, it’s hard to know where to start.

    At the moment, I’m trying to figure out how to create a company account in google+. If you know how to do this would you send me a note please? Thanks.

  3. Ellen Arndt says:

    Ronnie: Thanks for the comment. Like you mentioned, it’s critical to do a run-through with the other panelists. We did two run-throughs (“test hangout”) before the actual live webinar with our panelists. It helped tremendously! So, great point. I should have touched upon that topic more, but you did it for me so thank you.

    Bob: Glad to hear you’re interested! It’s super easy to sign-up. First go to this page: http://plus.google.com/pages/create to set up an account. Once there, you’ll need to fill out basic information like your name and email address (use the name of the company page’s admin, so if you’re going to manage it, use yours). The Google+ page’s admin is the person who has permission to leave posts and update the page as needed.

    The email address should be a general email (or your work email address if you’re comfortable using it) that your company uses such as marketing@xxxfirm.com or info@xxxxfirm.com. Google+ will then guide you through the next steps to create a page/account for your company. You can then personalize your page, add your logo, choose a tagline that readers see, post company news, and so forth.

    Now you can start adding people/other businesses to your circles and, in turn, they may add you back. Engage, listen, talk, and post as frequently as you can. You can share company news, post relevant links that pertain to your company, post photos or videos/infographics, and share helpful/instructional information or sales announcements, etc. I suggest you use all of Google+ profile features to optimize your page, so it receives greater exposure online. The more effort you put into it, the likelier it is that people and companies will add your page to their circles (“circles” is just a fancy way to say that they’ve chosen to follow your page and read your posts!) I hope this helps!

  4. Ellen Arndt says:

    Bob,

    I should have made it clear that your email must have an @gmail.com in it when you sign up, so again use a general email that you and/or multiple people can access.

  5. Rini says:

    Ellen, just a question.
    Did you try talkfusion.com ? How do you compare it to hangout ?

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