There is nothing more effective for building your audience than face-to-face communication.
Social media posts can’t compare with the ability to see your audience blink, follow their hand gestures, or witness their eye movements and facial expressions — all key components of what’s been called human media.
Human media is an emerging layer of social media, and it uses real-time video chat technology to help you build a closer relationship with your audience.
Text-based interactions can leave users feeling like they’re just following an individual. Face-to-face interaction through group video chat gives users a feeling of truly getting to know you.
Let’s explore some of the ways you can use human media to build your audience …
Using Google+ and “human media” to build an audience online
There are any number of group video chat servies, but in my opinion none compares to the features offered by Google+ Hangouts . Hangouts give you the ability to provide your audience with hours and hours of unique instructional content.
Grab your audience and start teaching. Give your viewers an inside look at what you do, how you do it, and the process involved.
Hangouts give an unparalleled opportunity to boost your online authority by showing off what you know. Take the opportunity to increase group engagement by featuring guest speakers or specialists and broadcasting high-quality informational sessions to your audience.
If your virtual classroom fills up (nine friends plus the host), take advantage of Hangouts on Air. Through integration with YouTube, Hangouts on Air can be mass-broadcast live from YouTube or any platform that copies the embed code.
How to build authority online
With Google+ and Hangouts — in addition to text-based content containing that all-important rel=”author” tag — your social profile will combine to make up the subjects in which you are truly authoritative.
Matt Polsky, an organic search strategist, called the possibility of Author Rank: “your own personal tag cloud” that combines major keywords and meta-data from the content you have linked to Google+ and YouTube.
Finding ways to boost your authority can be as simple as taking advantage of the Google+ Communities feature by crowdsourcing and finding similar individuals to connect with.
Once connections are fostered, start a Hangout and invite other experts to attend and share their knowledge. Starting Hangouts with authoritative individuals is a great way to open doors that lead to writing opportunities, or simply beef up your YouTube offerings.
You can also check out other great ways to build your Google+ authority in this article from Copyblogger’s Demian Farnworth.
How to get closer to your audience
You can increase the frequency of face-to-face communication with your audience by hosting an “open” Hangout. An open Hangout is an open door to your office … even if your audience is scattered around the globe.
Every weekday at 4pm CST, I host a “Virtual Front Porch” Hangout on the Veterans United profile to meet people, chat with friends, and talk about topics ranging from the day’s news to the latest digital trends.
For personal branding and content creators, this can be a gateway to great interviews or subjects for your next piece — and remember, you don’t have to worry about taking notes if you have it streamed directly to your YouTube account.
Find new customers, clients, and freelance opportunities
The technology behind group video chat isn’t unique to Google+ — what is unique is the fact that Google+ offers users a “webcam yellow pages.” With Hangouts, Google+ provides a global phone book, categorized by Communities and user interests.
Google+ Communities offer you the ability to find people who are interested in your product or service. And the best part is, anyone can start a Hangout within a community, building face-to-face relationships and reducing the perceived space between you and your audience.
At first, content publishers may find it hard to shift to a more video-based strategy. But I think you’ll find the increased authority, audience interaction, and networking opportunities will make learning about Hangouts well worth your time.
About the Author: Sarah Hill is the Chief Digital Storyteller for Veterans United Network -- the nation's leading dedicated provider of VA Loans. Connect with Sarah on Google+ to start a Hangout, or chat with her on Twitter.