How to Build an Audience with Google+ Hangouts

Image of Google Hangouts Player

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

Building authority with Google+ is more than just creating a social presence, it’s the beginning step to more personalized search results through authorship markup.

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.

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Comments

  1. Very good, very informative post, Ms Hill. I will certainly look into Hangouts…

    I have been using Spreecast. Very easy, very smooth and free. Not that I have a problem getting too large for a hangout at this point, but spreecast doesn’t have that limitation. And all broadcasts can be archived and re run. I have more view every day on the recorded session than the live version.

    Thank you for another option.

    • Tom, I’ve checked out Spreecast and it is a viable video chat platform for sure… two things that it is missing are the power of YouTube to broadcast live and the fact that it is not right in the middle of the fastest growing social network on the planet (Google Plus). Those reasons alone make checking out Hangouts something to consider.

  2. YES! Love this. I really think that human media is the future of business. We all want to know that there is a real person behind the brand. Business owners and audiences alike all want to be truly seen and understood. Human media is, in my opinion, the best vehicle for fostering true connections.

  3. Google Hangout is becoming more popular. :)

    Holding hangouts is a great way for authors/writers to reach out to their readers. It’s also good for entrepreneurs who want to forgo the same old, same old, teleseminar and or webinar. Somehow a Google Hangout seems more personal. I look forward to hanging out more on Google Hangout. ;)

  4. Would love to meet all of you in a Hangout. Sure beats chatting with each other’s avatars. ;- )

  5. @Sarah… I agree.

  6. is Google+ hangout compatible with iOS FaceTime?

  7. I’m a member of a Facebook group who really wanted to connect live and we used Google+ hangout just a couple of days ago. I didn’t even know what it was until I was invited to hang out. Big difference between following threads and reading through comments and hanging out live. Loved it! Thanks for elaborating on the little bit I know.

  8. Great post Sarah. Google Hangouts is great, we’ve found a bunch of excellent uses for it too!

    “Human Media” is a great point ;)

  9. Hangouts by far is a great strategy for SEO and optimization purposes. In my niche its a great avenue to engage people to see what it is that I do. On my blog I am converting mainly from regular blog posts to Google Hangout and video blog posts and this is apart of my strategy. Its great to see that Google Plus Hangouts are truly becoming the mega giant that it is.

  10. Great post! What are your thoughts on the frequency? Weekly sounds like a fairly big commitment to start with, but would monthly be too sporadic? Thanks again for the tips.

    • I would suggest joining some hangouts first to meet people. Once you get the hang of how to mute your mic, etc then you can move on to hosting them yourself. When you join a hangout, that’s where you find people to circle and those are people you can invite to your own Hangouts when you host them. Monthly is not too sporadic… it all depends on the timeliness of what you want to show. I know people who only HOST a hangout once every couple months but they JOIN hangouts whenever their time allows. It’s like a global coffee shop. There are no rules with Human Media and Hangouts…we are writing them as we speak. ;-) So as far as frequency… whatever works for your timeline.

  11. Awesome-Makes you think of all the different ways you could use this tool to make money. I know someone that is using it to train cleaning employees world wide on how to properly strip floors and then teaches how to use a buffing machine. He charges $50 per person and makes like $400 (twice a day) =$800 daily.

  12. The organized global phone book sounds very promising; wasn’t aware of this. Thanks for the heads up!

  13. When will you organize a hang out so we can hear you life?

  14. I have been thinking about using google+ hangout for a while. I think its a great tool and resource that you have offered. Looks like a another great opportunity connect with your community.

    Thanks for sharing this one!

    Eric

  15. Great post with good info. I’m still more of a Facebook and LinkedIn user. I have a Google+ accounts and I’m in a couple of groups, but one, alone does not have time to do it all. I need others to work the social media for me, but I’m not financially equipped to pay others at this time. I’ll just keep plugging.

  16. I could see using the Google+ video chats in an organized, webinar / discussion for a business but individually just reaching out to people seems intrusive and could be more costly than the return.

  17. Is there a way to schedule hangouts ahead of time? Your article inspired me to look–it’s all pretty straight forrward, but I can’t find a way to do anything but start RIGHT NOW.

    • Sure you can create a G+ event announcement ahead of time announcing your Hangout. This event announcement also allows people to RSVP to the Hangout and those who respond yes can have it automatically added to their calendars. Then, on the date of your Hangout… just start the Hangout at the date/time you specified in the event announcement. If you get lost, just search “how to schedule a hangout on air ” within Google+ . Good luck! ;- )

  18. Sarah Hill is AWESOME… such a ‘down to earth’ celebrity. She has done so much to help promote the hangout tool it is amazing… and once you meet her in a hangout, you really do get to know her better than you thought you would. That is part of the power of hangouts, they help you connect so quickly, it is ‘magical’.

    • Blushing. ;- ) thank you. There is something to be said for business and eye contact. Studies show people do business with people they know so the ability of video chat to enhance relationships will be something to watch in the future.

  19. I love hosting Hangouts, not for new connections only but to keep in touch with existing connections, friends, audiences. It’s a totally awesome method to teach & give information ‘face-to-face’.

  20. Hi Sarah, I’d have to agree with you especially with your point around the global phone book – I presume even the most sound G+ users might not be aware of this handy feature for discovering targeted leads. If there is one element which is lacking on Hangouts, it’s the screen sharing capability, or have I missed something?

    • Hi Kapil. Yes you can screen share in a Hangout. Just remember the smaller you make your window…the larger it will appear when you screen share. The button to screen share is located on the left side of the Hangout. If you hover over it, it says ‘screen share’. The button looks like a computer monitor. Good luck! ;- )

  21. Well that’s pretty much sold Google Hangouts to me! Great post Sarah. I love the idea behind Human Media, as well as the way hosting Hangouts can help with community and authority building, as well as author rank. As a result, it’ll massively help search marketing campaigns in a way that I had never really thought about before. Thought provoking stuff, thanks!

  22. Good post on building audience. I’ve been connecting with people through Skype and teaching them on setting up their blogs, but after reading this article it’s clear that the Google+ hangouts gives much better advantage on SEO by gaining more author rank..

    Just heading to read “Claim Google Authorship for Your WordPress Website in 3 Easy Steps” to get some more deep insights how exactly could we use it for our contact marketing authority building advantage.

    Thanks for the share Sarah. Now i’m curious about to know what Veterans United Network has to offer ;)

  23. I am loving Google Hangouts and I just started a series where I interview local (Las Vegas) business owners and am calling it “Sin City Spotlight”. I had my first one on Friday and have another on Monday. I have 15 other business owners interested in it as well.

    I also like to “mastermind” with other marketers using Hangouts. One guy is in the UK, another in North Carolina and I’m in Vegas. I love technology!

  24. This is first time i came about this topic. Never thought we can pull some genuine readers from Google hangouts. Really an awesome share. Enjoyed reading it

    Thanks

  25. This has gotten me interested in giving Hangouts a try. I guess I’ve just brushed it off as superfluous given my ease with Skype, but I never put much effort into taking a closer look. Thanks!

  26. What I find most remarkable is how this has the name “human media”.

    Human media is people engaging one another. Incredibly, this happened even BEFORE the Internet. Amazing!

    People speaking and connection face to face! Wow!

    All things have a tendency to return to their original state. As metal turns to rust and into the earth, so does communication move through technology, only to return to people actually having connected conversations.

    I teach this stuff to C Level Execs at Fortune 500’s and the like all over the world.

    Hangouts is a great tool, and I intend to get better at it. I was a fan of Skype right up until Microjunk bought it, and ruined is pristine operation, turnings it into a dime store chat system.

    I am 100% about Hangouts now.

    Thank you!

    Lord R Michael Davies
    Founding Member
    Lords of Marketing