10 Pointers for Google Hangout Success

google hangout

As Ketchum’s Stephen Waddington wrote about on the Ketchum blog, things have been moving apace over at Google+. I’m a big Google+ fan. I think there are some really interesting features and a lot of ways in which it is becoming increasingly relevant for brands. One of the most popular features of Google+, and an area where clients are enjoying a lot of success recently, is Google Hangouts.

Hangouts On Air are a great way to communicate to your audience in a direct, visual way but also without the formality of an online webinar or traditional event. Based on our recent experience, I thought it would be useful to pull out ten tips that will help you put together a Hangout that really stands out and delivers engaging content for your audience.

  1. Picking your topic – It might sound obvious, but are you picking a topic that will resonate with your audience? Is it interesting or useful? Will it add value? Is it current or newsworthy? Can you offer something that isn’t already available elsewhere?
  2. Selecting your participants – Your panel can make or break the success of your Hangout. Clearly you want to invite people who are knowledgeable about the subject. But they need to be engaging in front of the camera too. It’s amazing how many journalists or bloggers who are influential online fail to come across on camera. You should also think about the community of the panel member you invite. Do they have their own following that you can tap into, allowing you to extend the reach of your Hangout?
  3. Setup – Spend time (and budget) setting up audiovisual equipment. Invest in a good headset, a webcam and maybe also some lighting. Finally, dare I say it, a little touch of foundation could help those with a pale complexion… Don’t forget to think about where you sit. Can you put some subtle branding in the background? A blank wall isn’t necessary but make sure your backdrop is in keeping with the image and tone you are looking to convey.
  4. Optimize your event listing – Your Google+ event listing is the place where interested parties can register for your Hangout in advance. Make sure you optimize your listing by including all the relevant details and by properly tagging your panelists. You should also invest in a custom banner – Google+ gives you the opportunity to upload a banner for your event page so make use of this simple and free additional branding.
  5. Rehearse – Have an agenda and set timings. While the idea of jumping on a Hangout and having a chat might sound easy and appealing, it probably won’t maximize the enjoyment for your audience. Put together a script and make sure everyone knows approximate timings. You’ll want to keep things flexible while also making sure the Hangout moves along at a decent pace and doesn’t last for hours!
  6. Meet in advance – Make sure you get all the panelists to turn up and log on well in advance. This way you can make sure everyone is there and you can sort out any last minute technical glitches before it all kicks off. It’s also a good moment to summarize the schedule.
  7. Maximize periphery social activity – In the run up to your Hangout, during and after the event itself, it’s worth having someone on hand to publicize your Hangout activity on your social channels. You’ll want to promote your event on Twitter and Facebook as well as Google+ (obviously) and you can then share the resulting YouTube video on these channels after.
  8. Tease your Hangout – What can you do in the run up to the Hangout to increase sign-ups and attendance? Encourage your panelist to blog and tweet about their involvement. Write blog posts on the subject and invite questions for the panel from your audience.
  9. Embed via YouTube – Using Hangout On Air, it’s easy to allow attendees to watch the live stream of your Hangout on YouTube. You can even use this option to embed the Hangout on your website or blog in real-time.
  10. Think about what is next… – Whenever you run a Hangout, have an eye on the next one. Can you promote your next Hangout at the end of the session? Let your attendees know where they can go for more information. You could even offer a redemption item as a call to action at the end (you don’t get contact details from Google as part of the Hangout process).

Image credit: www.bizbash.com

With a wealth of experience working in digital marketing and PR, Danny Whatmough is an Associate Director working in the digital team at Ketchum and is a thought leader in the wider PR industry. He is chairman of the PRCA’s Digital Group and is currently heading a PRCA working group looking at the ‘future of the PR agency.’ He is also an influential industry commentator through his own blog (dannywhatmough.com) and as a guest blogger on Econsultancy, The Wall, Huffington Post and Social Media Today. Danny is often quoted in the industry press as well as being a regular speaker at industry conferences and events. He is on Twitter at @dannywhatmough