Google+ Hangouts is a disruptive technology.
As David Amerland says in his new book, Google+ Hangouts for Business: How to use Google+ Hangouts to Improve Brand Impact, Build Business and Communicate in Real-Time, only Google could have done it.
We are hardwired to connect with those we trust, and and this hardwiring has led to a constant push for greater interaction and connection on the web (p. 10)
Amerland’s latest book is really two books in one. It’s both a how-to manual on setting up and implementing Hangouts, and a strategy guide for using them effectively to build your brand and your business.
OK, it’s three books in one: it’s also a fascinating examination of social media psychology in a face-to-face modality.
What Are Google+ Hangouts?
Amerland explains that Google+ Hangouts are videoconferencing with a low barrier to entry in terms of cost and implementation, yet with ever-growing capabilities. Hangouts now come in three different forms:
- Text chat (formerly “Google Chat” or “Gchat”)
- Video chat (private Hangouts)
- Hangouts On Air (public, live streaming Hangouts
The book concentrates on the latter two, and especially the public Hangouts On Air (HOAs), where business can gain the most visibility and traction. With HOAs, anyone can conduct their own live show, interviewing expert guests, demonstrating a product, conducting a panel discussion, etc.
The shows can be viewed live in a Google+ event page, on YouTube, or via an embed of the YouTube version on a website. One of the key bonuses of broadcasting via HOAs is that immediately after the HOA is completed, it becomes a permanent video on the owner’s YouTube channel. These videos can be optimized to take advantage of YouTube’s powerful influence on search, giving them a life and value long after the live broadcast.
Google+ Hangouts Make Anyone a New Media Channel
Amerland discusses the disruptive impact of being able to broadcast live video shows with very little cost, either in setup or production. As Internet bandwidth increased, easy-to-use video platforms emerged, with YouTube as far-and-above the chief of all. In one generation we have moved from television as the only means of video broadcasting, to live online video. Because of TV’s high barriers to entry (production costs and complexities, the high cost of buying time on available channels), only larger brands could afford to play, especially at the national or global levels.
In the past few years we have seen the emergence of online video making stars of people and brands who could never afford television. The first step in that direction came with low cost video tape (and later digital) cameras, along with desktop computer software that allowed anyone to do professional editing. Then came YouTube, which provided a media outlet for these videos that was free, easy to use, and tied directly to the world’s largest search engine (Google), making promotion a snap.
Those who follow David Amerland on Google+ know that in addition to being a knowledgeable technologist and marketer, David more than hold his own in discussions of the sociological implications of technology. Among the topics discussed in Google+ Hangouts for Business are:
- How Hangouts fulfil the failed promise of past efforts such as public access TV.
- How Hangouts leverage the power of the personal. (Real estate agents have always understood this, putting their faces in all their ads and promotions).
- Integration of Hangouts into real world interaction (Topshops, Bincer at SXSW).
- The importance of the human connection through things like eye contact, facial expressions, and body language.
- The power of building empathy and trust through authenticity, and establishing an identity.
Philosophical, Prophetic…and Also Practical
But Amerland’s book isn’t all pie in the sky, as fascinating as his discussions of the why and wherefore of Hangouts is. The book also serves as the most complete and accurate manual to creating, implementing, running, promoting, and troubleshooting Hangouts in existence today.
That last gerund (“troubleshooting”) is critical, because as anyone who has used the video form of Hangouts knows, the technology is still somewhat in its beta days. Things can, and do, go wrong. Sometimes things just don’t work the way you expect. Hangouts have vastly improved since their introduction, but there are still some loose nuts and bolts jangling around in the engine compartment.
Amerland provides a complete walk through of setup and basic implementation steps for video Hangouts, including recommended technical capacities and equipment for participants. He also just as thoroughly covers non-technical but equally important aspects such as proper handling of guests and audience, using Hangouts to build brand equity, and ways to repurpose and promote Hangout content.
Hidden bonus: book is really a short course in online marketing.
Hangouts make real-time marketing possible for nearly everyone. Part of this is not only the event itself, but knowing how to market the event in advance and afterward. Amerland covers some of the possible uses of HOAs include: marketing, education, entertainment, branding, webinars, announcements, product reviews, service provision.
Google+ Hangouts for Business is a very accessible book. At just over 100 pages it can be read in an evening. But you will want to keep it close-at-hand as a useful manual. Amerland’s writing, as always, is clear. He has a gift for making the highly-technical understandable to the average person. He and his publisher decided to publish this book in eBook format only so that it can be easily updated as the technology changes (which it often does!).
Video Discussion of Google+ Hangouts for Business with the Author
Below is a Hangout On Air discussion we held recently with author David Amerland about this book:
David Amerland is an author, keynote speaker, and consultant to major corporations on digital marketing strategy. Learn more about him here. David also appears the first Tuesday of every month as special co-host on Stone Temple Consulting’s Digital Marketing Answers live Hangout On Air show.