What is a Google+ Hangout?
Google+ Hangouts is a unified communications service that allows anyone with a Google email account (Gmail) to initiate and participate in text, voice (you need a microphone to be heard) or video (you need a webcam to be seen) chats, either one-on-one or in a group. Hangouts are built into Google+ and Gmail, and free mobile apps are available for iOS and Android devices. It’s reasonably easy to use even for the least tech-savvy person, I know because I’ve used it and best of all it’s free.
In fact, I have to admit the first time I actually participated in a hangout, and by that I mean not as an attendee but as someone under the cameras gaze, I was a little overwhelmed. Never having used Google Hangouts before to find oneself in front of the cameras with an array of buttons all new was shall we say, different.
You’ve no doubt heard the saying that people often use that “my face was made for radio,” well I was under the impression that “my face and also my voice are made for blog posts” … and I jest, because like most things, practice makes perfect and I am sure I will get better.
Moving on with Google Hangouts.
What are the Benefits of Google Hangouts?
- One of the benefits of Google+ Hangouts is the ability to relatively easily start a video chat with up to 10 different people, and text chats with many others at a time. This capability can take both social conversations and meetings to a whole new level especially when you consider that participants can be located anywhere in the world.
- You can make live phone calls from your computer. Calls within the United States and Canada are free and other countries are at lower than average rates in my opinion check these low rates out.
- Google has also created ‘Hangouts on Air’, which means that you can take our ten person hangout and share it live with as many people as you wish. Think of it, as ten people on stage with your audience as large as you want it to be, with the hangout on air feature … now add in the text chats with this audience and things start to get really exciting.
- The system works over a variety of formats and easily combines all of your contacts’ information. Hangouts will work not only on any computer that can access Google, but can also function on Android/iPhone phones & tablets. That means that all those contacts on your phone and synced with Gmail are automatically stored for you to make contact with.
What are Hangouts on Air?
Google’s Hangouts on Air adds another dimension to Hangouts in that it lets you record and broadcast live videos, which can then be forwarded and replayed to friends, family, clients and potential customers as they are also stored on YouTube.
Hangouts on Air uses the same simple navigational format as Hangouts itself and is again a completely free tool, the only real difference is that you will need to verify your account to be able to use it. Then, once you’ve started your Hangout, you just click on Broadcast and it will be streamed live to your audience.
With Hangouts Air you can create an incredibly diverse discussion area, with up to ten people using video chat and many more messaging via text at the same time. Since people can continue to leave comments after the broadcast is finished, just by going to YouTube, you’ll also be able to keep your conversation going, long after the broadcast is over and if you pick evergreen topics the conversation could go on for a very long time.
How Can Google Hangouts Be Used in Business?
Broadcasting a live video via Hangouts Air offers a very personalized touch to client communication.
The spontaneous and unpolished attitude that comes across in Hangouts is something that is becoming more and more appreciated by clients. You can still edit your Hangout on Air video through YouTube’s editor or by downloading it, but it’s the live broadcast that gives the most personal touch and I personally think that if your broadcast is too polished it can often lack that personal touch that really connects with people.
Videos can be saved, reviewed and even edited at a later date.
Some companies may wish to broadcast to their clients/prospective customers, yet cannot meet everyone’s schedule. Hangouts allow you to create a video and capture it, inviting others to see it when they have the time.
Google Hangouts allow companies to keep in touch over long distances.
Distance becomes no problem as international and national meetings can be held with ease, as well as allowing companies to make presentations to both employees, clients and prospects online.
How Can Google Hangouts Be Used in Content Marketing?
As I am pretty new to Google Hangouts, I’m still working a lot of this out however I can see all sorts of opportunities for the content marketer.
Content Marketing Video Ideas
Can you imagine a Google Hangout hosted by you and incorporating your best customers? Yes, could get pretty cheesy if all you did was ask them questions about how wonderful your business is. If however you ask each of them about their business and their problems and how your business has helped them solve some of their problems and helped them reach their goals. That content moves from being cheesy to being highly focused on your target audience. Now move this to hangouts on air, and you still have your interview style presentation, but then you can move on to a panel type discussion with an audience as large as you can attract and questions coming in for the panel to answer via the chat feature.
There are many different variations to this, you could be different and interview customers who have had a bad experience with your company and then move on to how you have learned from this and improved your business so that it can’t happen again. Basically every question your customer service department, sales department or customer focused departments encounter become topics you can discuss and have Google Hangouts on Air, on.
I’ve not even mentioned all of the educational information you could share, the tricks to getting the most out of your products, the list just goes on and on.
Can you imagine how much content is contained in a video? You can use the audio as a podcast, you can edit the video to from lots of smaller video’s that can easily be shared. You can take transcribe the audio into text and produce eBooks, Reports and your typical video will give you multiple blog posts.
Other Content Marketing Uses
Stay tuned I’m new to actively using Google Hangouts, this is a large comprehensive article and I’ll no doubt add further articles, tips and tricks as I learn them, myself because I love to get in and get my hands dirty so to speak as I learn the quickest then. Once I have this knowledge I will share it with you, because that’s what content marketing is all about.
How to Start a Google+ Hangout, The Basics
I find it amusing that here I am a relative newcomer to Google Hangouts teaching people how to use it, however I had this information sitting around, it helped me and it should help you, but do remember Google has a habit of changing things, if you notice a difference between what I have included here and what the current version is, perhaps you can include a note in the comments section.
2. You’re going to need a Google account to sign into Google+. You can sign up for a free account here.
4. You’ll find the Hangouts tab to the top right of the page. Clicking it will open a floating menu with a “+ New Hangout” field.
5. Clicking “+ New Conversation” will then provide you with a list of your contacts and Google+ circles. Checking the box next to any of these contacts will invite them to your hangout.
6. You are then given the option to start a text or video hangout… you can turn a text hangout into a video hangout at any point.
Next Steps: How to Start a Hangout on Air
1. Sign in to Google+
2. Find the Home menu located on the left of the screen and click ‘Hangouts”
3. In the top menu, click, ‘Hangouts on Air’.
4. Click ‘Create a Hangout on Air’.
5. Google+ will ask you to connect with your Youtube account.
6. You will then need to verify your Youtube account by first entering your phone number…
7. …And then using the verification code that was texted to you.
8. Return to your Hangout on Air screen and confirm that your Google+ and YouTube accounts are connected.
9. Now you can begin to setup the Hangout on Air itself. Give it a name, fill out a description and set a start date/time and who you would like to share it with. Hit ‘Share’ when you’re ready.
10. Agree to the Ts & Cs…
11. You’ll see the Google Hangouts screen appear. Click ‘Start Broadcast’ to the bottom of the screen.
12. Confirm you want to Go Live and your broadcast will begin!
13. Click ‘Stop Broadcast’ when you’re done
Once you’re done, your broadcast will automatically be converted to a static video on YouTube that people can watch and comment on at any time.
You can also use YouTube’s video editor to edit your Hangouts on Air video. You can even download it and use your own editing software.
Tips for Creating a Google+ Hangout on Air
Hangouts is a professional tool, that cost would put out of reach of most businesses, it’s a valuable tool however like most tools of this, it takes practice to get the experience so that nothing phases you, because as with all technology it goes wrong at times. If you are producing a public Hangout on Air broadcast within your content marketing strategy, just remember the following;
Make sure you promote your hangout in advance.
There is no point hosting a live event if no one turns up to view the show, so use all of those social media channels you have spent years building up to broadcast news about your hangout, well in advance. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Newsletters, use whatever you have available to put your target audience in direct contact with your content.
Be prepared for your broadcast.
Remember this is a live event, this was my biggest mistake the first time I used Google Hangouts on Air, I went in blind and paid the price. There’s no editing after the fact, because its live, so make sure you have some sort of script or at least bullet points of idea you want to get to talk about.
Do a couple of trial runs.
Take the time to practice, it could stop you looking as foolish as I did and it will be worth it in the long run.
Take control of your environment.
What can people see? What can they hear? Make sure you are somewhere with as fewer distractions as possible. And if like me and your first broadcast is in the middle of the night, consider what your environment looks like with the lights on and curtains shut.
Check your settings.
Make sure that you maintain screen control throughout the broadcast by altering the hangout settings, oh and don’t do as i did upon finding new controls start clicking them, instead do this in a practice run.
Invite others to Join You
Conversations are much more dynamic and interesting than listening to an individual talking. Think about inviting a colleague or particular client to join you in your broadcast – this adds another dimension to the video.
- Don’t jump straight into the deep end, I should follow my own advice here, but seriously have a friend or colleague try hangouts with you first so you can get the hang of things.
- Don’t forget to set up your Google+ profile completely, so people can learn more about who you are and see the links to your websites.
- Remember that if you’re using a computer your conversation could be heard by everyone around you so don’t forget headphones!
- If you join a hangout with a number of people already present you will enter unmuted… don’t forget to unmute yourself so people can hear you! Otherwise everyone will see your mouth talking and nothing coming out… which I have to admit is amusing for a short while.
- You can add some creative apps and plug-ins to hangouts to make the experience even better. Some of the more popular ones include…
- Screenshare – With Screenshare you can continue to work and whoever you’re sharing with can get a sneak peek to see exactly what you’re looking at – This can be fantastic for long distance training.
- Symphonical – A project management add-on, Symphonical allows you to assign tasks to hangout members and create offline project boards.
- Cacoo – This add-on gives you the capability to create collaborative diagrams with other present hangout members.
- The ‘Customize New Requests’ button in the drop down menu of Hangouts allows you to alter your preferences as to who gets in touch with you and how. If you make sure most groups are set to ‘hang out with you’ as opposed to ‘send request’, you’ll get a lot less notifications.
- Once you’re in a video hangout, take advantage of the various bits and pieces that make it unique. The menu to the left of the screen has the following options;
- Chat – Bring up the chat bar to the right so you can continue to communicate via text as well as video at the same time.
- Screenshare – This is where you can show whoever else is present what you’re working on.
- Capture – Take a snapshot of the video chat.
- YouTube – Create a ‘mini YouTube channel’ and watch videos with those present.
- Google effects – This little extra can add hours of fun… put a tiara on or a beard and watch it stick to you.
- View more apps… – This is where things start to get really interesting. You can download a number of different apps for free, such as Remote Desktop, which allows you to fix someone’s broken computer over hangouts, or even games to play with you friends.
Ready to get started with Google Hangouts?
Would you like a step by step checklist to help you, simply leave a comment on how you use or how you plan to use Google Hangouts and I’ll send you a copy… So just grab a few friends and start hanging out together. But don’t forget to brush your hair and get dressed first as impressions do count especially on Google Hangouts when anyone could be watching.