How to Use Google+ Hangouts On Air for your Small Business

In this post you’ll learn how to use Google+ Hangouts On Air (HOA) for your Small Business.  To demonstrate this free resource offered by Google, I conducted a Hangout On Air with Steffi Black of Steffi Black Coaching and Liza Magcale of eLiaise and Virtual Office Canada for the discussion.

Please watch the video below to learn more about how using Google+ Hangouts On Air is a fast way to create video content for your business marketing.  Or read on for step-by-step instructions for launching your own Hangout On Air.

Update 4/9/14:
A few improvements have been made in the Hangouts and Events areas of Google+. In this area of my blog post, I give you instructions on how to launch and broadcast your own Hangout On Air.

Here are the written instructions on setting up your Google+ Hangouts On Air.

Set up and Connect Your Google+ Profile with Your YouTube account

  1. You will need a Google+ profile to access Google+ Hangouts on Air.  If you have a Google account, you already have a G+ profile.  If you don’t already have a Google account, you’ll need to set one up.  Click here if you need to set up a Google account.
  2. To access your Google+ profile, log in and choose the “+YourName” link on the tool bar to open your Google+ profile.  Edit your profile to add your profile and cover photo and other contact information.  This link will help you set up your Google+ profile.
  3. To enable Hangouts On Air, you will first need to link your Google+ and YouTube accounts.  From your G+ profile, hover over the Home button and navigate down to Hangouts On Air. Click the blue button called Start a Hangout On Air.  If you have not participated in a Hangout before, you will be prompted to install the Google video chat tool. When the Hangouts screen opens enter a title for your Hangout.  Just put in “test” or something similar. Keep the next field blank (the field that asks who you would like to invite to the Hangout).  Check the small box underneath that says you agree that your Hangout On Air will be publicly broadcasted.  A message will display stating that you will need to link your Google+ to your YouTube account.  It will ask for your cell phone number so that a 6-digit code can be texted to you.  Follow the directions.  When the 6-digit code is texted to you, enter it where noted. You will get a confirmation message stating that the link was successful.

While this process is a bit tedious, once you have set up the link between YouTube and G+, you won’t have to repeat it.  The other neat thing is once this link is set up between G+ and YouTube, your YouTube account is enabled to record videos longer than 15 minutes!

Contrary to my previous post about how to launch a Hangout On Air, Google has improved the Hangout On Air experience for Hangout hosts who want to promote their broadcasts ahead of time.  Now when you set up a Hangout On Air, an event landing page is created.  This event page includes the ability to enable a Q&A panel (so viewers can comment and post questions before, during and after your show!), as well as links to help you promote the event.  (A link for the event page, a YouTube link, and a video embed code – if you want to be able to broadcast your Hangout On Air on another website, like your business website).   Yippee!  Now, back to our instructions…

Plan your Hangouts On Air

Whether you’re simply using Hangouts On Air to record a quick video to use on your website/blog or hosting a weekly webcast to share your expertise, you’ll want do some planning before jumping into HOAs.  Again, your HOAs are publicly broadcast on YouTube and your Google+ profile page, so do a bit of planning to present yourself professionally.  I would suggest some type of script or outline to help keep your message and conversation succinct.  I co-host a weekly webcast with a colleague, and we have a script-writing/planning session every week so that our broadcast discussions aren’t going off on too many tangents.

Once you have created a script or an outline for your video, then decide when you’ll broadcast.  If you’re recording a quick video for yourself (or for the blog/website), a specific date and time is not necessary.  If you are planning a webcast that will be an one-time or ongoing event, having a set day and time will make it easier for you to promote the event.

To launch a Hangout On Air to record a video you’ll use later (i.e. a ‘Welcome to my website’, or a video blog post, etc.) follow these steps

  1. Go to your G+ profile, hover over the Home button and navigate to the Hangouts On Air icon.
  2. Click the blue Start a Hangout On Air button. (Don’t worry, even if you are setting up an HOA for the future, you want to click this button).
  3. At the Set up Your Hangout On Air window, enter the title of your Hangout.
  4.  In the next field enter the names or email addresses of the people you would like to be on the Hangout On Air with you.  In this specific example, since you are creating a video of just you talking, keep this field blank.
  5. Be sure the Now button is clicked (grey).
  6. Leave the Audience field blank.
  7. Click Share.
  8. The Hangout On Air event page will display.  It will look like thisThis is a Google+ Hangout On Air event landing page and it will make it easier to host and promote your Hangouts On Air!
  9. Click the Start button in the video player.  
  10. Skip the Invite people screen.
  11. The Hangout On Air broadcast screen will display.  You will need to wait a few moments while the screen prepares for broadcast.  A red button at the bottom of the screen will display the progress.  Don’t worry, you are still in this “green room” area until you click Start Broadcast, so take a few moments now to make sure your notes are ready and your equipment is working properly.
  12. Test your audio and video.  If you see yourself on screen, your video is fine.  If the audio sensor has green lights when you talk, your audio is fine.  If you’re having issues, move the mouse to open the top tool bar and click the cog (Setting) icon.  This will give you options to test audio and set which equipment should be used.
  13. When you feel prepared to record, click the Start Broadcast button at the bottom of the screen.  Wait a few moments until you see a notification message stating your video is live. Record your video.
  14. When you are done recording, click End Broadcast.   A notification window will open to inform you that your video is now processing at YouTube, and will give you a link to your Video Manager in your YouTube account to monitor the progress.
  15. After your video is done processing at YouTube, you will have access to several Share links – like an embed code (to place the video on your website or blog) or your social media accounts.

How to Set up a Hangout On Air that will be aired in the future

  1.  Go to your G+ profile, hover over the Home button and navigate to the Hangouts On Air icon.
  2. Click the blue Start a Hangout On Air button. (Don’t worry, even if you are setting up an HOA for the future, you want to click this button).
  3. At the Set up Your Hangout On Air window, enter the title of your Hangout. (This will eventually be the title of your video on YouTube so be specific and use your keywords).
  4.  In the next field enter the names or email addresses of the people you would like to be on the Hangout On Air with you.  You can invite people that by G+ profile or via email address. You can invite up to 9 other people with you on the HOA.
  5. Click the Later button.  Add the date and time of your Hangout On Air.
  6. Choose the Audience for your HOA.  Your Public circle will be chosen by default, but you are able to add other Circles of people as well.
  7. Click Share.  The Hangout On Air event page will display.  It will look like this: This is a Google+ Hangout On Air event landing page and it will make it easier to host and promote your Hangouts On Air!
  8. If you would like to enable the Q&A panel, click the white button.
  9. Congratulations, you have just scheduled a Hangout On Air.

Promote Your Event

  1. From your HOA Event page (as pictured above), go to the Details section and click the Links link.  This will display 3 links for you to use to promote your event.
  2. Event page link: Use this link when you post to G+ and other social sites to encourage followers to visit to RSVP and ask any questions ahead of the HOA.  When folks post to the Q&A area, you are notified in your G+ account and via email. This is a great way to start and build a conversation before your show airs.
  3. YouTube link: Use this link when posting to Facebook and other social sites.
  4. Video embed: Paste this HTML to a page on your website if you’d like livestream the show from there.

Launching Your Hangout On Air the Day of the Event

  1. (I usually login about 30 minutes ahead of broadcast in case I need to troubleshoot anything)
  2. Navigate to the HOA Event page (as pictured above).
  3. Click the blue Start button.
  4. Enter the profiles or email addresses of the folks that will be co-hosts/guest on your show in the Invite people screen.
  5. The Hangout On Air broadcast screen will display.  You will need to wait a few moments while the screen prepares for broadcast.  A red button at the bottom of the screen will display the progress.  Don’t worry, you are in this “green room” area until you click Start Broadcast, so take a few moments now to make sure your notes are ready and your equipment is working properly.
  6. Test your audio and video.   Test your guest/co-hosts audio video. If you see yourself on screen, your video is fine.  If the audio sensor has green lights when you talk, your audio is fine.  If you’re having issues, move the mouse to open the top tool bar and click the cog (Setting) icon.  This will give you options to test audio and set which equipment should be used.  My rule of thumb is to ask guests/co-hosts to use earbuds or a headset and to mute themselves when they aren’t talking.  This helps to eliminate any background noise.
  7. When you are ready to broadcast, click the Start Broadcast button at the bottom of the screen.  Wait a few moments until you see a notification message stating your video is live. Begin your show!
  8. At the end of your show, click End Broadcast.  
  9. The video will stop recording, and you will be back in “green room” mode.  This is a great time to have a post-show discussion with your guests.
  10. When your post-show discussion is complete, click the red phone icon in the top tool bar to end the Hangout On Air.
  11. A notification window will open to inform you that your video is now processing at YouTube, and will give you a link to your Video Manager in your YouTube account to monitor the progress.
  12. After your video is done processing at YouTube, you will have access to several Share links – like an embed code (to place the video on your website or blog) or your social media accounts.

 

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