This is a guest contribution by Sarah Hill, the Chief Digital Storyteller for Veterans United Network.
Blogging no longer has to be a text based conversation. Google+ has allowed bloggers to become broadcasters, adding a visual component to each blog post, and all you need to become a “Blogcaster” is a webcam, an internet connection, and Google+.
Understanding the Basics of Google+
Narrow-minded individuals have been quick to dismiss Google+, seeing another Facebook; however, the true functionality of Google+ goes beyond keeping up with friends. This platform offers a unique feature that allows you to live-stream face-to-face video chats to the masses through a feature known as Hangouts.
Google’s Hangout feature is unfolding into a product that is changing how people collaborate and learn, providing real users with the tools and information to accomplish real-world tasks, and the ability to display it for all to see via YouTube.
This free broadcast tower is deepening relationships between bloggers, businesses and personal users through face-to-face interaction, setting the social network apart from all others and creating a fresh way to experience the web.
Starting a Hangout can be done in a few seconds, just by clicking the “Start a Hangout” button; however, before diving in head first, it is best to prepare.
When you start a Hangout for the first time, you will be prompted to install a quick plugin. All you need to do is download Google’s voice and video chat plugin, ensure you have a webcam with a microphone and a decent internet connection. Ethernet is preferred but I’ve done lots of Hangouts over Wifi and even 4G as well.
In addition, it is best to check your lighting and background beforehand to make sure people can clearly see your face.
Once you’re confident in the set up and have ran some practice Hangouts, it’s time to promote a live event.
Announce the hangout
First, create a Google+ public event announcement a few days to a couple weeks before your Hangout. You want to give users time and create awareness of the Hangout.
Set to stream the hangout
Also, when creating the Google+ Hangout, be sure to open a “Hangout on Air” as those Hangouts stream live on YouTube and are then automatically recorded to your YouTube channel after you hit “end broadcast”.
Promote your hangout
Next, build awareness by posting in related Google+ communities, as well as other social channels. Don’t stay only on Google+, but cross-pollinate your live event to all your social platforms. Also, consider using a specific hashtag for your event.
Over Memorial Day, Veterans United partnered with Google+, the 9/11 Memorial and Virtual Photo Walks for a live Hangout. We used #honortheheroes to promote it to the public. Search that hashtag for examples of how we promoted that event.
Becoming a Blogcaster
Hangouts fuel the possibility of bloggers to become blogcasters, allowing up to ten users to video chat at a time, with the ability to broadcast to the entire world through “Hangouts on Air.”
So what would you talk about when you host a Hangout?
What are you passionate about? Original ideas, quality content and social sharing are the goal, and if you are posting interesting, thought provoking content on a frequent basis, you have the ability to gain followers and grow your authority – and this is no different through Hangouts.
Common Hangout topics include education, interviews, product demonstration and, more recently, customer service. However, when blogging, consider taking your hottest blog post and invite other authorities in the space to join in on the Hangout panel, providing multiple angles on the topic. This lengthens the life of your blog beyond just the initial post.
Preparation is a must. Put together a list of questions that you can ask members in the Hangout, know who is speaking, on what topic and how long. Also, be sure to keep the conversation flowing by having transition topics so that you don’t permit awkward downtime.
And, no matter what method is used when producing a Hangout, remember to monitor social channels, blog comments from people who couldn’t attend the Hangout. You should also point users toward a social feed that they can post questions, essentially making them a part of the Hangout as well.
As with blogging, when you engage with your users on a frequent basis, user interaction and discussion becomes much easier. With Hangouts, that interaction is deeper as it’s now face to face via webcam.
Claim Your Work
The larger your presence is on Google+, the more likely it is that Google will see you as an expert or authority in your personal niche. And, to ensure that you’re capturing all the authority given from your Hangouts – especially when you post the URL to another site – be sure to claim the content through Google+.
“Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman at Google, recently said that future rankings will be determined by verified author profiles,” said Matt Polsky, an organic search strategist. “If you haven’t realized it yet, authors are already verifying their content on Google+, which is more than enough of a reason to get started.”
As Matt said above, bloggers are already verifying their broadcasts and content, providing users with not only a picture snippet in search results, but with additional authority for your specialized niche – especially when you branch out and write for other authority publications.
To verify your content, you can add the rel=author tag to your Google+ link in your byline when you create and post content.
With some forethought, time, and effort, you can grow your online presence and authority so people can discover your content. Broadcasting isn’t just for TV stations anymore. If you have a blog, you too can become a Google+ blogcaster.
Have you already used a Hangout? What was your experience?
About the Author: Sarah Hill is the Chief Digital Storyteller for Veterans United Network – a leading hub of news and advice on veteran and military issues. Connect with Sarah on Google+ to start a Hangout, or chat with her on Twitter.
I truly agree with the article’s title. This post I shall say covered every crucial point!
I’m just starting to really get into Google+ and this sounds like a really cool idea. You’re right, it’s nothing like Facebook at all (even I was skeptical at first). The possibilities with hangouts are pretty much endless and your post just gave me some great ideas for taking community building to another level.
Sarah, thanks for this nice post. A lot of us are yet to fully harness the potentials of Google+. But as more and more great contents like this are created, it becomes easier to know how to fully utilise Google+ to our blogging advantage.
I must confess I haven’t done a hangout on Google+ before. But having read your post on this, it is obvious I need to experiment with it so see how I can leverage on it to take my blog to the next level.
This certainly makes Google+ seem more appealing. I didn’t really see the point in doing it either than for an SEO benefit, but it looks like they are finally creating more engaging and unique features that other social networking sites don’t offer. I am definitely down to try Google Hangouts.
Cool idea to use hangouts from the bloggers perspective. I am going to give this a shot on my blog. Any thoughts on how to get readers to sign up for the session easily?
Yes create a Google+ event announcement and allow people to RSVP that way. When your Hangout is coming up if they’re RSVPed, it will automatically be added to their Google Calendar. Good luck! ;- )
Sarah, you were speaking to ME throughout this entire article. I have been strongly considering starting up a weekly Google Hangout, only I wasn’t sure where to start. These steps are laid out perfectly for a blogger like me. Thank you, I could kiss you!
Glad it was helpful for you. It ‘s a free broadcast tower even the social networks have yet to realize its potential. ;- )
Google Plus hangouts also establish something important – connections with your audience. Nothing helps you connect with a person more than talking with them face to face – and Google Plus Hangouts is as close as it comes on the internet.
yes! Human Media baby. ;- )
Being a broadcaster through Google Hangouts allows you to create a unique content for your blog. It helps you create your own brand persona that is vital to connect with your audience.
Good point Sarah! Thanks for this guide.
I think getting actively involved into discussion through blogs is the great work but what innovative way to get into contacts is Google Hangouts which allows you for the live discussion with chat feature i think one can solve the online queries and the community is always there to solve the queries.
Truly Google+ is like facebook or shall I say a social media, but I just recently learned after reading your article that It is an application that would help promote any ventures you have in mind. I did not know this until now. Thanks for sharing this information. I’ll be using this Google+
I use Google Hangout, It’s amazing new features added advantages on it,
it’s amazing to spend time with friend and broadcast over the Youtube. :)
Thanks Sarah for such a nice Post.
I have just started giving a private cooking class online for a University and am using Google Hangouts to reach my students. I have had a few issues because of my students lack of internet speed, however with the ability to call them on a phone for free during the class I have been e-mailing them the powerpoint and then if their internet isn’t stable, just giving them a call.
They put me on speaker and we go through the material together.
An issue I am having is that I would like to record my class so I can listen to myself and critique my class, however to record via Google hangout you have to stream live. I don’t really want to stream live since people are paying for my class. Maybe someone has a suggestion on how I can fix this. I appreciate any suggestions.
I plan on spending a lot more time on Google+ and using hangouts for private classes as well as offering my online course with more universities in the near future.
Cheers! Love the post.
I’ve worked with Google + for several months in an attempt to increase traffic and rankings but so far have seen very little (none) benefit. Perhaps I’m missing something…
This sounds really marvelous. As a painter could we hold critique sessions? Could you see someone’s art or would that be pushing the technology. I gotta get myself on Google+.
Thank Sarah, there are so many advantages to using Google+ Hangouts I love the simplicity of them and just how easy they are to set up. I also love how you can record them and have them uploaded automatically to Youtube.
Sarah Hill is one of the best examples of an awesome Hangout-er!
I’ve been coaching many people on how to do Hangouts and Hangouts on Air (HOA) for quite a while now. A couple of areas they all get tripped on are not getting ready Before the broadcast (testing/details)… and not doing a good job with the recorded video After the show.
Basic Video SEO efforts for the recorded video can really make a difference afterwards, and running a few tests and (looking at the results) before going live can help you be more professional.
The most common issue people really struggle with is using G+ Events to host the HOA… it is possible (and really works well) but there is no “HOA Event” button. That really trips people up… The G+ Event & HOA are 2 different things. Bring them together just before showtime via the special link in the Event called “YouTube URL”. Works great for me and my clients! Great Tool.. Magical Communication Happens with it!
Thanks for that, Sarah – useful. I think Hangouts are a great way to go. And I think that Google are deffo getting their ducks in a row. Facebook watch out!
Hangouts on Air is a wonderful way to give value, value, and more value. People see your personality and knowledge. You can then take the broadcast and embed it on your blog and social media. The broadcast is central. don’t forget the other distribution methods to reach more people.
I had no idea of Google Hangouts’s potential before! Definitely a useful mean for a community!
Great article on Hangouts and bloggers becoming broadcasters. Far too many people have as you say “brushed off Google plus as just another social network” which is a real shame as the power of Google Plus is far greater than chatting with people.
The features and opportunities that open up when a business embraces Google Plus are really big and serious business owners and bloggers really do need to look deeper and under the surface to realise what they have in front of them is a powerful productivity suite for their business not a social network island
This post definitely makes me want to check out the features that Hangouts has to offer! Thanks!
This was a great overview of Google+, I’ve just been posting, but trying to find out how to be more active and also gain more authority in Google SEO and domain authority. Explaining hangouts and how to effectively utilize them is great, now I need to jus get started going these. Thanks again for this great information, I just maybe a broadcaster sooner than you know it.
Hi Sarah, thanks for the post. I hadn’t thought about using Hangouts for blogcasting so this got some ideas going for me. Do you have any examples of some good blogcasts folks have done via Hangouts?