How to Use Google Hangouts
One of the most exciting new developments in social media communication this year has been Google+’s new interactive communication feature, Google Hangouts.
Hangouts itself is not new – but Google has added the ability for everyone in the hangout to video conference and chat in multiple ways and freshened up its user interface for maximum ease of use.
Step 4. Google Hangouts on Air
Hangouts on Hair is a new live-streaming function, meant to allow you to broadcast. You can see why this offers tremendous potential – and also an alarming opportunity for spammy or “garbage” streams – but right now, it is still functioning on the glitchy side, and older computers will have trouble with the stream. Problems have been reported such as:
- Crashing shockwave, if you have other tabs open (close them!)
- Sound, but no visual
- “Garbling” of visuals
- Visuals, but no sound
- Time delays
If your computer is a fairly new one, however, with a good video card, do experiment with Hangouts on Air.
And if you are an Android user, you can do away with all the computer woes by accessing your Hangout on Air via your mobile.
When it comes to this new feature, one hopes it can only get better!
If you are experiencing Pre-Hangout anxiety before your first Hangout on Air, do read through the Help section on Hangouts on Air questions. It will help put your mind at rest.
One final huge advantage of Hangouts on Air: It is automatically recorded.
You will be able to edit it afterwards in your Home Page; and once you’ve done so, it will automatically update your post and URL.
Step 5. Using Hangouts to Connect
No matter what type of Hangout you create, the biggest advantage this wonderful function will give to your business is the ability to let people see the “real you” in action.
“It’s like being face to face and just talking,” said one connection, discussing a recent Hangout on Facebook. “I feel like I really know people now.”
People will become comfortable with you. They’ll like you (or dislike you) just as they would in a real, live group setting.
And disliking is not such a bad thing – it weeds out those who aren’t a good fit.
You can use Hangouts:
- To share
- To teach
- To demonstrate in real time (invaluable if your niche audience are all kinesthetic learners, who need to be or see “hands on”)
- To present – a professionally put-together, informal “workshop” can impress even niche influencers with your professionalism and expertise
- To attract JV partners – see the previous point! (“Wow. She’s great! I bet we could put together…”)
Step 6. Hangouts Dos and Don’ts
While it’s true Hangouts is very much in flux right now, and there is a sort of “anything goes” attitude among many participants, do make sure you take it seriously and present as professional – and well prepared – Hangout as possible.
In fact, just as you would with a YouTube video, create a script for yourself. Plan in advance:
- What you are going to share
- At what point you are going to share it
- Which windows and apps should be open and ready on your desktop
- What’s going to follow what
While it’s good to enjoy spontaneity, a little direction can enhance the value of your Hangout tremendously, while cutting out on tangents. People will come away feeling they’ve really got their money’s worth out of your (free) Hangout – and they will have thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Further to that…
- Do let people know about your Hangout ahead of time, so they will be ready and happy to join you – particularly after your first smash success Hangout
- Don’t over-use Google Effects. There are only so many times that seeing executives in grey suits wearing Pirate hats is funny. (Ditto – and ditch – the moustaches!)
- Do continue to promote your Hangout in advance – Post about it after your initial invitation, and send reminders: Whether or not that’s an informal SMS text message or Private Message via Facebook or an all-out, promoted blog post. Give people warning – and an irresistible reason to join you!
Using Google Hangouts Conclusion
Finally, remember that knowing what to expect from a first Hangout experience goes for your participants too. If you think they may not be familiar with Hangouts, don’t risk having them become no-shows out of a little nervousness, when actually they would be ideal candidates for what you have to share.
Don’t just invite them: Outline what they can expect; both in terms of content and the mechanics of how the Hangout is going to be run.
And then sit back and look forward to many more successful Hangouts!