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Insiders Guide to Podcasts, Google+ Hangouts, and Beyond

Podcasting offers the opportunity to bring in additional traffic to your site, showcase your ability to master speaking engagements and can also be beneficial when developing relationships with influential individuals. However, despite the historic success that a podcast can bring a brand, it also yields the limitation of being a strictly audio format.

Remedying this is as simple as Google+ Hangouts. Hangouts are putting a new “face” on podcasting, offering a platform with all the traditional features of a podcast – sharing commentary, interviews and ideas with the public – but adding the benefits of a simpler interface, multi-user support and the ability to broadcast live via Hangouts on Air. And, while these features are reason enough, the best is the real-time face to face contact that is part of a new layer of social media called “Human Media.”

Human Media is essentially social media via a webcam. So instead of chatting with avatars or listening to disembodied voices on a podcast, there’s now another option. Despite the success that a podcast can bring your brand, it has the limitation of being a strictly audio format. Enter Google+ Hangouts.

How Hangouts Work (And Can Work for Brands)

Hangouts are the future of socializing, collaborating and sharing online. Unlike podcasts, Hangouts offer video capabilities with multi-user support. For instance, users can invite up to ten guests (15 for premium users) to join in the video chat, in which each participant can contribute to the conversation with his or her content. The group can collaborate directly via Google Drive while still in chat mode, screen share or watch YouTube videos.

Hangouts can also be set to air live to the Google+ public. A Hangout on Air also streams live on YouTube and is automatically archived on your YouTube channel immediately after the broadcast for editing, embedding or re-sharing later.

Brands that are currently succeeding using podcasts may gain even wider audiences by using Hangouts.
Why? Because Hangouts are connected to a social network that’s connected to Google search, the user has the ability to crowd source an audience. Simply search for your conversation topic within Google+ and you can find users or G+ communities that are also passionate about what you’re passionate about. Hangouts are easy and free to start. Users only need to have Google+ or Gmail accounts.

Many brands from the New York Times, Glamour, Cadbury and Veterans United are using Human Media to connect face to face with their followings. Veterans United uses Human Media to connect aging veterans with their memorials, while the New York Times has also embraced Hangouts – bringing Jason Stallman, the paper’s Deputy Sports Editor, in a Hangout with the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers live during the 2012 Olympics. Two basketball fans joined them in the live video chat, while other fans submitted questions to the group, which were answered live and later posted on YouTube for anyone who missed it.

Another example is when National Geographic celebrated its 125th anniversary. NatGeo hosted a Hangout that included seven guests from each continent, and followed a professional format. In addition to their respective discussion segments, guests also curated audience questions. The producers at NatGeo then edited down the Hangout footage to a lean 15 minutes before posting it to the brand’s YouTube page. This dialogue wasn’t just a social media interaction. It was much more human.

Hangouts are no longer a fun experiment—it is a full-blown Human Media tool that, when used properly, could expand a brand’s audience and deepen the connection with its following. As more brands become privy to the benefits of using Hangouts, brands may want to experiment with them as a platform to do everything from human resources, research & development to production, marketing and customer relations. The UI (User Interface) on social media is now a lot more human.

Using Google Glass to ‘Hangout’

Hangouts combined with Glass, Google’s new hands free wearable computer, have the ability to make Human Media interactions more mobile and easier to access as you don’t have to hold a smart phone or be in front of your computer to participate.  As part of the Glass Explorers program, I’m testing the device and am particularly impressed with the experience of Glass Hangouts. Essentially, it’s a hands free multi way video call.  But instead of holding your phone, you’re able to walk through a crowd and the people on the call magically travel with you. You turn your head, the people in the Hangout are still in your field of vision.

Developers are working on Glassware (Glass apps) to make Hangouts on the device even more user- friendly. Right now, you’re not able to adjust the volume in a Hangout. I’m sure in the future that feature will be added to the product perhaps in time for the public release of Glass. It will be interesting to see in the future how brands combine Hangouts with Glass to bring customers directly into their field of vision.

The Human Component

Pat Flynn, podcast star and owner of The Smart Passive Income Blog, attributes entrepreneur Chris Ducker with having the clairvoyance, or rather business sense, to see the future, “Business isn’t B2B anymore, or B2C. It’s P2P—person to person.” Brands must learn to leverage their audiences’ power to connect with their social networks; sharing brand experiences, spreading brand messages and growing brand audiences.

Hangouts were designed to be informal, a virtual front porch where anyone can drop by and add their two cents. This informality in design adds the casual nature of human discussion; a relaxed atmosphere that can inspire a creative state of ordered chaos. Hangouts take us one step beyond the current user interface because it applies the human element in a more intimate way, giving users exactly what they want in real time—a simulated human connection.

Why Brands Should ‘Hangout’

Because Google+ and Hangouts are integrated with Google search, each time you post or use the group video chat room; it creates equity that has the potential to boost your rankings in search. If you want to be found on the Internet, you want to post and use Hangouts on Google+.

Chatting with someone’s avatar has served us well but now there’s a new Human Media magic carpet that has the potential to transport your brand around the block or around the world in a matter of seconds.

Viralheat helps to manage and monitor Google+ for business. Learn how Viralheat can serve your social media needs by requesting a demo of our Google+ capabilities.

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