Unless you have been living under a (virtual) rock you must have noticed the growing popularity of Google Hangout On Air lately. Like most people I am pretty pleased by the fact that Google is encouraging anyone to broadcast live on Youtube, for free.
And as a matter of fact, in the past two weeks I have myself experimented with my first two hangouts on air. In this post we will explore what are hangouts, why you should run your own Hangouts On Air (HOA for short), how to run those and we will conclude with 10 powerful tips for next Hangouts.
So what are Hangouts on Air?
Hangout On Air is a new cross-over feature between Google Plus and Youtube that allows anyone to broadcast a video feed (camera, screencast or simple audio) live on Youtube. HOA can host an unlimited number of attendees (viewers) and up to ten participants (you can think of participants as co-presenters).
Live hangouts can also be enhanced by what Google calls Hangouts Apps, which are add-ons with extra features (similar to Firefox extensions)
Here are some of the possible extra features that can be added with Hangout apps:
– mindmap in real time with others
– play video games with other participants
– add facebook comments to your hangouts
Note: If you are planning to run a hangout check out Hangout Apps for a list of the latest (and wackiest) HOA add-ons.
Ok I got it… But why should I run a Google Hangout On Air?
Simply put, Hangouts On Air are one of the best ways to connect with your audience, whether you are a business consultant selling to small businesses or a panic-attack expert selling infoproducts online.
Besides the connection to your audience, HOA is a also a good selling medium, using the traditional webinar formula (95% content, 5% pitch).
Finally if you are camera shy but would love to get yourself out there, it’s a brilliant way to force yourself to beat your shyness.
In case you are still wondering why you should run your own HOA here are some sample uses of Hangouts:
– marketers using HOA to run a webinar to a list of prospects and selling at the end of it
– bands and singers using Hangout On Air to stream live music and build a global audience
– using HOA to stream a keynote
– churches using HOA to record podcasts and then publish those on iTunes
That sounds reasonably cool… Now how can I broadcast live on Youtube?
Ok so fhe first thing you need is a Google + account: this will allow you to sign in to Google+ and then stream to Youtube. If you don’t have one yet sign up here (note that participants – not viewers- should also have a G+ account to join your event).
Second thing you need is a date, time and schedule for your event; it goes without saying that your audience should be able to attend. You can use the built-in events feature in G+ to schedule your event or do it the old-school way (send emails/call attendees).
Once you have an account and a schedule, here is the step-by-step to run your own event:
1. Go to https://plus.google.com/hangouts and click on “Start Hangout”
2. On the next page invite your participants (leave blank if you are presenting on your own), name your hangout and make sure to tick the “Enable Hangouts On Air” checkbox. Then click “Hang out”
3. Share the Youtube link with attendees (or embed on your blog), choose which apps you will use and start your broadcast
And that’s it!
There are myriad of other options there, but rather than bore you with a list of feature set I recommend you start a “test hangout” now and find out which features you will need for yourself.
In my case the only feature I care about so far is sharing my webcam and sharing my screen. I haven’t used most of the other features so far.
Now to conclude this post is are 10 Power Hangouts on Air Tips:
1# Expect EVERYTHING to go wrong the day you go live for the first time: your mic might stop working, your attendees may complain that they see none of your presentation but a black screen instead, etc. In other words, random things will happen, deal with it.
2# Test, test and test before you go live! See #1 above: you can never be too prepared. Run test hangouts with at least one of your friends or partners before you broadcast yourself live on Youtube.
3# Time your presentation in advance: you should always know how long your Hangout On Air is going to last, as you may need to communicate this information to your audience.
#4 Build an attendee list: I may be an email marketing maniac, but I like to build relevant email lists. For my first two hangouts I ran an email and website campaign and asked people to register: this allowed me to segment my list and only contact people who signed up for the webinar prior to the event. It serves as a good reminder too as I am not sure how well does the Google+ Event function performs when it comes to reminding people to attend.
#5 Be flexible: Hangouts On Air is not GoToWebinar but has that sweet “100% free” price-tag: there are many limitations to HOA but unless you can afford other pricier webinar options you will need to work with those while Google brushes things out. Hence the important of #2.
#6 Use your own commenting platform. Right now HOA do not allow you to effectively monitor comments on your live Youtube feed. It also does not allow you to take questions from the public. It’s kind of a massive limitation if you want to run a webinar style presentation. This said with a little DIY you can embed your live hangout on your blog, and add your own comment system to it. I have personally used ChatRoll as a way to embed comments and Q&A on my blog during a hangout.
#7 Make the most of your recorded Hangouts. You can either recycle your content for the future, add your recorded Hangouts to a private members area or decide not to share the recorded session (if your intent is to have people turn up at the live event only). Whatever you do as soon as your hangout is over, head over to the Youtube>Video Manager page to edit your Hangout title, description, tags for SEO or discovery purposes if you choose to keep it public.
#8 Try it for yourself! Hangouts On Air are a a great way to market your skill, sell more products but more importantly connect with your customers and get to dialogue with them. It’s 100% free and you don’t need to market it to all your customers at once (you can start with a sample of 10 attendees only for instance) so it’s pretty much risk-free for your business. And finally, they are pretty fun to run too!
Here is to your future Hangouts,
P.S. Are you planning to run a hangout in the near future? Do you have any questions about Hangouts on Air I can help out with?
Leave your comments and questions below.