Reasons to use Google+ Hangouts
So what are some good reasons to use Google+ Hangouts? Here are just a few.
- Grow your Google+ audience. Google+ allows you to share hangouts with the public or with only particular people in your Google+ circles. Encourage people to follow you on Google+ by setting up hangouts only for connections.
- Really connect with your fans. It’s one thing to interact with your fans through status updates and comments, but by inviting your fans to join you live on video, you are opening the door to even more meaningful engagement.
- Create video content for your website. Google+ now allows you to not only broadcast hangouts live, but also record them to post on your YouTube channel. This makes it an easy way to create great video content for your video marketing campaign.
Now that you know a few reasons why you would want to use Google+ Hangouts, let's take a look at some actual hangout ideas that could apply to your business.
- Start a regular industry discussion show. Get your audience in the habit of checking out a regular weekly or monthly show where you discuss the latest news in your industry. You can invite nine random participants to ask questions or invite other industry leaders to participate in the discussion.
- Host a regular Q&A session. Instead of creating a pre-planned discussion, you could always open the floor up to nine participants who ask you questions about your industry, products, or services.
- Record simple webinars. Sure, you won’t be able to invite thousands to your broadcast, collect their email addresses, and follow up via email like other popular webinar services let you do. But you can record a simple webinar on Google+ Hangouts whenever you want for free, rather than pay for a regular monthly service.
- Interactive how-to videos. Start a hangout with an educational tutorial or how-to session and then invite participants to ask questions. Think of it like a live classroom or webinar where the students can be on-screen to participate.
How to start a Google+ Hangout
Unlike most video endeavors, starting a Google+ Hangout is easy!
First off, you need to have a webcam. Some desktops and laptops have them built in, but if yours doesn’t, it’s usually pretty easy to find a quality webcam from retailers like Amazon. Since YouTube allows HD videos, you might want to consider getting a webcam that records HD quality.
Next, you will want to consider where you are recording your hangout. Try testing out your webcam to make sure that the lighting in your office and the sound is good. If you don’t have any programs to record video into, you can always sign into your YouTube account and go to the Upload Video section. There you will find an option to record a video with your webcam - you can always try recording a few minutes and play it back to make sure everything is the way you want it. Also be sure to note anything that can be seen in the background, including wall art, other rooms, offices, etc.
Google+ Hangouts are simply video chatrooms that allow you and nine other participants to interact via webcam. While you can share video on other social networks, major social competitors like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn do not allow you to record video on their platform and interact with others live.
Starting a hangout
When you’re ready to start your hangout, go to the Google+ Hangouts section and click on the Start a Hangout button in the top right to begin.
Alternatively, those with a larger screen resolution will see the option to start a hangout on the righthand sidebar of the Google+ screen.
Setting up your hangout
On the next screen, you will be able to set up your hangout, including choosing online participants who will be notified about the event.
When you click on the settings wheel icon near the top right of the Start a Hangout screen, check your hardware settings to ensure that you are using the best webcam and microphone for your video. You can also specify your connection speed.
Before you start your hangout, be sure to check Enable Hangouts on Air. This will mean that the hangout is recorded - you can edit the recording and then upload it to YouTube for future playback.
Once you start your hangout, you might want to take advantage of the following available features. You can access these at the top of your hangout window.
- Chat - Just because only nine people can participate via webcam doesn’t mean you can’t interact with the rest. Click on the Chat button to open up a group chat window to interact with other viewers on your live stream.
- Invite - If you think of some other people you want to invite to your hangout, you can do so using the Invite button.
- Screenshare - Change the view of your hangout from your webcam to your screen. You can choose to share your entire desktop or a particular window/program you have open.
- Google Effects - Want to make your hangout more fun? Google Effects lets you add fun hairstyles, eyewear, facial hair, or props to your face on the video. Depending on your industry, it may or may not be suitable for professional recordings.
- YouTube - Want to watch a YouTube video during your hangout? Click on the YouTube button to search for and play YouTube videos for your participants and viewers. Google Docs - If you want to share a Google document from your Google Docs library or create a new one for notes or sketches, click on the Google Docs button.
The last button on your hangout toolbar allows you to add additional applications to your hangout. Google Docs, YouTube, and Google Effects are just a few of their current applications. You can also add applications to your hangouts for games, drawing, and SlideShare.
Try Google+ Hangouts Today
As you can see, Google+ Hangouts can be a powerful way to really connect with your audience. If you’re not quite ready to create a hangout of your own, you can always go to the hangouts page and join a public hangout that is already in progress. If you participate in a few hangouts in your industry, it should help you get ready to host an awesome one for your own audience!
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