Google Hangouts and Hangouts on Air may be the best kept secret in social media. Yes, they’ve been around for awhile and yes the Obama campaign has used them. So have the Muppets - to promote their new movie last holiday season. But are you using them yet? Do you know what a Google Plus Hangout on Air can do for your marketing strategy? Here’s the nutshell version.
What is a Google Plus Hangout?
A Google Hangout is a 10 person, 9 participants and the host, video chat room that lives inside the Google Plus network. Google hangouts offer access to YouTube videos, screen sharing, text chat and added special effects, live and for free. A regular hangout is visible only to the 10 people included, and is an invite only function. For a business application Hangouts could be great for meetings, product demonstrations, sales pitches, PowerPoint presentations, document editing sessions – anything for which you need live collaboration.
Hangouts are available from profiles, from pages and On Air. The features are pretty much the same for a profile hangout and for a page hangout. If you are hosting an internal company meeting or hanging out with friends, your personal profile is adequate. If you are representing a brand through your hangout you’ll want to use the feature from your brand page. The difference between these two options really boils down to who you want to be during the hangout – a brand representative or an unbranded person.
Hangouts on Air are different.
What is a Google Hangout on Air?
Hangouts on Air is a tool for creating live, public video chats. These are publicly broadcast videos that stream from your Google Plus account to your YouTube channel, where they are saved and able to be viewed later. You can share your YouTube URL with anyone who wants to watch your broadcast live. With the built in screenshare ability you also have the functionality of hosting your own webinar. No software needed. Hangouts on Air are basically a free television station that broadcasts to your Google Plus page and to YouTube.
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What Can you Do with a Hangout On Air?
Like regular hangouts you can chat face to face with up to nine other people, share your screen and collaborate on documents. Since Hangouts On Air automatically become a YouTube video, there are plenty of other ways to use them. Here are a few:
1. Host virtual meetings that are recorded and stored for later viewing.
2. Broadcast a tutorial or demonstration on your product or service. If you run a hair salon, use a Hangout On Air to demonstrate braiding or coloring techniques for example. If your business is beekeeping, use a Hangout on Air to show how to smoke the bees, or how to extract honey from the hives. Anything you can think of that would make a good video is a potential Hangout On Air topic.
3. Interview an SME. Find a subject matter expert in your field and conduct a live question and answer session, then broadcast that conversation to your Google Plus page stream and your YouTube channel
4. Conduct a ‘behind the scenes’ interview to give your fan base additional access to your brand.
There are plenty of ways to use this tool, but I hope these ideas get you started. I’ll give step by step instructions on using these tools in a future blog post, but you can also view my Google Plus for Business Slideshare presentation to learn more. With a free video production tool like Google Plus Hangouts on Air there’s no reason not to use it in your marketing strategy for the year.
Are you using Google Plus Hangouts or Hangouts on Air? Share your ideas with me in the comments.