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Use Google+ Hangouts On Air to Boost Your Business

Shuttle Launch-Google+ Hangout On AirAre you running yourself ragged on social media and other digital media outlets trying to gain exposure for your company? While not a total solution, Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) can provide benefits that other options cannot for free. You not only get to create branded content, but the live streaming video and recorded video provide you with many options to reach a greater audience, increase your following, drive search engine results and attract new clients.

What is a Google+ Hangout On Air?

A Google+ Hangout On Air is a free HD video conference tool.The video stream can be viewed live on Google+, YouTube and any website or kept private during creation. If live streaming, you can select whether the audience can actively participate and who can view. A recording is automatically made by YouTube and saved on your channel to be viewed publicly and shared. Many individuals and companies host HOAs on a regular basis and create topical series. Basically, your company can have its own broadcast show. Isn’t that great?

What benefits can Hangouts On Air provide your company?

  • Position your company as a thought leader
  • Multiple content repurposing opportunities
  • Google SERP and SEO advantages – keyword optimized and SERP prioritized
  • Demonstrate your industry advantage
  • Establish trust and credibility
  • Increase brand recognition
  • Build a following through live conversations and recordings
  • Communicate your brand’s culture and personality
  • Develop and strengthen relationships with expert guest speakers
  • Humanize your brand

What content can you present in a HOA?

The shorter answer would be what can’t be presented, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Announcements
  • Answer FAQs
  • Behind-the-scenes looks
  • Company culture insights
  • Customer testimonials
  • Employee stories
  • Events
  • Executive interviews / speeches
  • Expert interviews
  • How-to video
  • Product demonstrations
  • Webinars

Be creative, and listen to your audience’s questions and comments. Always think about what you want to accomplish and what angle you wish to take in the discussion. Ronnie Bincer suggests you first participate in a few Hangouts to get a feel for them, build relationships with guests and other viewers and find out what your target audience wants to know.

How to set up a Google+ Hangout On Air

  1. Have a Google account and Google+ company page.
  2. Create a YouTube channel if you don’t have and verify it.
  3. Connect the YouTube channel to the Google+ page.
  4. Create a specific circle if you want to ensure certain people know about the hangout and any guest speakers.
  5. Sign into the company Google+ account.
  6. Select “Hangouts” from the left dropdown menu.
  7. Under the “Hangouts On Air”tab, select “Start A Hangout On Air.”
  8. Start a Google Hangout On AirEnter the name of the event. Be sure to include keyword(s) to help people find it, and place them toward the beginning of the event name. Create something specific and intriguing to your audience.
  9. Create a Google Hangout On AirProvide a description that states exactly what people should expect and include keywords and tag any guests. Select “Later” and enter the date, time, duration and time zone.
  10. Add any additional people, including guest speakers, or make it private if you only want to show the recorded version.

HOA creation tips

If you create a HOA at least five days in advance, your event may be included on Google’s list of upcoming hangouts. Apparently, inclusion is not reliably automatic, but if your HOA is included, then you get extra promotion by being on the master list.

Be sure to include your primary keywords in the event title and description. You want to make it as easy for people to find either the live or recorded video.

Also, if you have any guest speakers, tag them. Tagging will encourage them to share the event with their audiences so you will be able to capitalize on their reach. You can have nine guests join you with an unlimited broadcast audience.

Once you have created your hangout, you can add a video or image as a custom trailer. To add a custom video, click “Add a Trailer” and add a YouTube video. To add a custom image, click “Add a Trailer” and add the image. Voila! You have added extra visual interest and information to your upcoming Hangout On Air. Otherwise, people will see a countdown clock, which is boring.

Promoting your upcoming HOA

Use whatever means you have to promote your upcoming Hangout On Air. Obviously, promote it on your social media outlets. When people respond to the event invite, it will show up in their news feed for their followers to see. Encourage guest speakers and employees to share on their social networks.

Internal and external newsletters are great ways to promote it. Depending on the frequency and lead time, you can include it multiple times with the video link along with doing an event specific email. You can also send out reminder emails as a countdown to the event.

The HOA can be promoted in a couple ways on your company website. You can have it as a special section on your home page. You can also write a blog post around the general subject with the video link included. That blog post can then be promoted on its own.

People will automatically be able to watch the live HOA on Google+ and YouTube. If you embed the video link on your website, they can also watch it there. Many people are not an active part of the Google+ community so letting them know they have viewing options will encourage more live viewing.

Another idea is to encourage people to submit questions in advance and then answer them on air. This option allows you to customize the content and bring the audience into the HOA.

Tips for during the HOA

Google Hangouts On Air can be raw videos or highly produced ones. Your experience and resources will determine which. Glitches are to be expected in live productions, but they can be minimized.

Chrome is the preferred browser. HOAs will work in other browsers, but Google obviously has everything optimized for its ecosystem. Before you start the HOA, you and your guest speakers will need to install the latest Hangout plugin.

A few minutes before the HOA begins, you and your guests should check audio and video to make sure everything is ready to go. This way everyone can go over what to expect and check their setups. Everyone should use headphones with microphones so the conversation can be heard better. Nothing like missing a question or a key point. Clear away any distracting background objects and sounds. Also, make sure each person knows how to use the HOA apps. If possible, have someone handle the technical side of the HOA while it’s live.

Good lighting is important for a quality video. A large soft light on one side, a smaller one on the other side and a back light make up the basic three-point lighting. A back light is important to separate the subject from the background.

Use a wired Internet connection to better maintain connectivity. Dead air is not good.

Last, YouTube also “listens” to what is said in the video as part of its algorithm. Therefore, include your keywords and variations thereof in a natural way during the video. Introductory and summary statements are good places to do it.

Extra features – apps

Google+ Hangouts on Air come with some great apps to enhance the broadcast.

  • Cameraman app – You can control whether to show or hide one or more participants on air. 
  • Q & A app – Taking questions in advance helps customize the content. Also, you can mark the questions as you answer them. People viewing the recorded video can then jump to specific questions in the video.
  • Control Room app – You can mute or unmute a participant’s video or audio, control a person’s audio level, give HOA control to someone else and and eject a person from the HOA.
  • Showcase app – You can share products, articles, website links and Google Play Store links with your audience. They can view them without interrupting the HOA broadcast.
  • Applause app – This app allows viewers to give a thumbs up or thumbs down during the broadcast. A real-time graph will show you the results.

Sharing and repurposing the recorded video

Once the HOA is completed, it will automatically be posted on your YouTube channel. You can edit it, and the edited version is what you will want to share. The URL stays the same throughout. At this point, it becomes indistinguishable from any other YouTube video. Add tags that include keywords, company name, etc. to further increase SEO juice. Consistent keyword tag usage will help your videos show up as suggested videos on the right hand side in YouTube.

Like before the event, use social media and email to share and promote the archived video. Many people cannot arrange their schedules to attend the live event. I usually have to view recordings because of schedule conflicts. You will also be able to reach people who did not hear about the live event. You may even wish to publish video segments if appropriate.

YouTube produces a transcription of the video discussion. However, I advise you create your own because YouTube’s automated transcription has its limits. This transcription can be included with the video and distributed elsewhere as well. Adding the transcription to the video helps with the video’s SEO. You can publish portions of it or turn it into a blog post and email. You can even tweet major points with the video link.

Embed the video on your website if you didn’t do it before. This way anyone who visits has the opportunity to view it and discover your video series.

Your Hangouts on Air don’t have to be finely polished productions, though that would be nice. In fact, in a recent B. L. Ochman HOA, Sona Patel of The New York Times stated they had better audience responses to the less highly produced videos. The audience seemed to like the more spontaneous ones. Quality content presented in a way that people can relate to will accomplish much. The more you do, the more you will get to fine tune the process and content. Think about how you can leverage your videos to get more distinguished expert guests, etc. You will have a learning curve, but don’t let that discourage you. The benefits you will reap will be well worth it.

Winning Google+ Hangout Strategies

Give people what they want and they will (Google+) hangout with you!
One constant in any marketing strategy, whether it be in the format of print, email, website, or social media is providing targeted content to a targeted audience … AKA – Giving people what they want. If you (a brand, business, marketer) provide it, they (your customers, brand ambassadors, industry influencers) will soak it in, like it, and hopefully share it.

How does this apply to the shiny widgets on Google+?
Google+ provides an opportunity for brands to connect with their audience in a unique, interactive way via “Hangouts” and “Hangouts On Air”. As a marketer, this opens up a whole new platform for connecting brands with their audiences, but also provides an opportunity for companies to show their personality and go “behind the scenes” for those interested in a deeper connection to a brand than just an ad or email offer.

Google Plus
Here are a few examples of innovative ways brands can incorporate Google+ hangouts into their content marketing strategies:

  • Google+ hangouts with celebrity endorsers and bloggers/ brand ambassadors
  • Google+ hangouts with engineers, R&D, manufacturers of products
  • Google+ hangouts with CEOs, Board Members, Industry Association Leaders

What are the trends for marketers and brands with Google+ Hangouts?
According to Ad Age: “The potential audience reach of “Hangouts On Air” — where the Hangout can be viewed by anyone who has the brand in their Circles, even if they’re not among the nine selected to actively participate — is attractive to brands, but programming one requires coordinating with Google to set it up on the back end, and Google has only done a handful so far, including a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in October and a session with “The Muppets” on their brand page to promote their upcoming film last week. Christian Oestlien, Google’s head of social advertising products, said the ultimate goal is to make Hangouts on Air a feature that brands can program independently.” – [Source: http://adage.com/article/digital/brands-start-test-hangouts-google-pages/231053/]

Interested in playing with Google+’s Hangouts On Air?
Here’s a getting started guide from Mashable: http://mashable.com/2012/07/20/google-plus-hangout-on-air/