Do you use Google+ hangouts for your marketing?

Are you wondering how hangouts can help your business?

To learn how to get started with Google+ hangouts, I interview Brandee Sweesy for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Brandee Sweesy, who is a Google+ hangouts marketing expert. For the last 20 years she has been helping entrepreneurs grow a following with video.

Brandee shares how you can use hangouts to promote your content.

You’ll learn the different techniques to help brand your hangouts and the best ways to promote attendance.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

Listen Now

You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Google+ Hangouts Marketing

What is a Google+ hangout?

Brandee states that first of all, it’s free. Google describes it as a unification of their video, chats and messenger service all in one place. It was a replacement for Google talk and Google chat.

Hangouts can either be private or you can stream live to your YouTube channel with Hangouts on Air.

brandee sweesy

Brandee Sweesy's YouTube channel.

Brandee explains that if you’re a consultant or coach, you can use hangouts like you would Skype. The quality of the video is amazing.

If you want to record your private hangout sessions, then you will have to use Camtasia or ScreenFlow. These hangouts are great to use for team meetings, consulting, coaching or when you privately advise people.

With a hangout on air, you can host yourself and up to nine other people. You can all be on the video at the same time, where you can chat and give a presentation. This can be done with private hangouts and hangouts on air.

You’ll discover why you need to keep control of the sound-activated screen and what you need to do.

hangouts film strip

You can control who is in the larger screen.

Hangouts on air stream live to your YouTube channel. It’s linked to your Google+ page. If you have a Google+ profile or a Google+ business page, you link it to your YouTube channel.

You need to have your YouTube channel verified for uploads of more than 15 minutes and most hangouts run longer than that.

The great advantage when you stream live to your YouTube channel is that at the end of the broadcast, you have unlimited YouTube content. You’ll find out what you need to add once you have finished the live stream to be able to optimize your video marketing.

When you stream live, it also runs on your Google+ profile page at the same time. Once you start a hangout on air, you can take the embed codes and share them on a Facebook tab, website or blog post. You can then direct people to watch it there.

brandee sweesy we are live

Share the embed code on Facebook to announce that you are live on air.

There’s also a Hangouts on Air page that lists all of the hangouts that are currently on air.

Listen to the show to learn about how you should name your hangouts to grab people’s attention.

How does a hangout differ from a webinar?

Brandee first saw hangouts as a possible replacement for webinars. A lot of the webinar platforms are expensive and if you only do a few, it can be hard to justify the cost. Many webinar platforms base their price on the number of viewers. But with a hangout on air, you have unlimited viewership.

Brandee explains how she has done webinars by herself with a slide presentation embedded on a website that has unlimited viewers.

With hangouts on air, you don’t need to buy expensive plugins for your website. People can enter their email address and then flip over to a Watch Live page.

brandee sweesy watch live page

You can have people opt in on your website and then flip through to your Watch Live page.

You’ll discover the best option to help build engagement and keep viewers from getting distracted. The advantage with hangouts is you have the opportunity to share an image with your audience, plus have that face-to-face connection, all in one place.

You can share content with both private hangouts and hangouts on air. All you have to do is press the Screen Share button. Brandee’s trick is to never share your desktop screen. Always make sure you close everything down first, except for what you want to share.

If you use Keynote, you need to convert your slides into PowerPoint, then load them into your Google Drive and select Present in New Window. You’ll also learn how you can build your slides in Google Drive and Brandee’s secret trick.

Listen to the show to find out how to control the main video and swap among guests.

Why marketers should consider doing a hangout

Brandee says the number-one reason is because it’s YouTube. Videos always rank higher in searches and hangouts on air jump very quickly to the first page of Google.

With normal video, you have to go through and edit it before it is released; whereas with hangouts on air, you have the live streaming to YouTube. This gives you unlimited YouTube content. If you are strategic with the optimization afterwards, you will skyrocket to the first page on your subject.

Remember that people buy from people they know, like and trust. It’s a huge opportunity to allow people to get to know you face to face. You’ll hear what people can gain from these live experiences.

Brandee has had clients who have made $12,000 with one hangout on air alone. You can also create web shows, which help build your list and engagement with your audience. People love it when you mention them live on air. When you have a weekly show at a certain time and are consistent with the people you interview, it’s a great benefit to your business.

You’ll discover how the analytics work for live streaming and what made Brandee’s viewers double in 24 hours.

If you want to share exclusive content, the best option is to go back into the video once the broadcast has ended and mark it as unlisted. This allows you to share your exclusive content with only the people who registered to watch it. Once you mark it as unlisted, it’s pulled out of your YouTube channel. You’ll also learn another way to share exclusive content.

Brandee shares what equipment she uses for her videos and why there is zero labor involved.

Listen to the show to find out about what you need to learn first before you start to record and what Brandee tests before she starts a broadcast.

What kind of apps can enhance hangouts?

One of Brandee’s favorite apps is the Hangout Toolbox. It allows you to have a lower third, where you can put your name and your website address.

hangouts toolbox in use

You can brand your video in the lower third with your name and website address.

Even if it’s a hangout with others, you still need to have your name, website address and a call to action there.

You can also use your logo in the same area. The Hangouts Toolbox has custom overlays, so you can make sure you have a well-branded lower third. It’s great for consistency and branding. It helps with when you are on other shows too.

Listen to the show to find out what size the lower third needs to be.

What you need to know if you are getting started with hangouts 

Brandee states that you first need to know the answer to “What is your why?” Once you understand this, the next stage is your strategy, which includes where you want people to watch your hangouts.

If you’re a video person, you’ll want to send viewers to your YouTube channel. For a marketing person who wants to build a list, then the best place to send them to is your website and ask for an opt-in. It all depends on where your biggest audience is.

As with all marketing, it’s about consistency. If your goal is to build relationships and engage your audience, then you might want to do a weekly show. If you want to sell a product, it won’t be as often but you will become known for this through your hangouts. It’s another marketing tool.

You’ll hear about two guys who co-host Social Media Maniacs and how within a couple of weeks they went from zero subscribers to thousands.

Although hangouts can be any length, the ideal time is around 30-45 minutes. It only works for longer periods if it’s high-energy and moves forward.

Brandee talks about viewer engagement and what you need to take into account when you ask questions.

brandee sweesy post comments

Get viewer engagement with an attention-grabbing promotion.

People love it when you include them in a hangout. Make sure you prompt for questions. The Hangout Toolbox and Comment Tracker will let you pull comments in from your YouTube channel, your Google+ profile and your Twitter account. You can then pop these on the screen.

Listen to the show to find out the best way to include comments if the hangout is on your blog.

How to promote a hangout

First you need to decide what your goal is and where you want to send people. It’s the number-one consistency in your marketing. Brandee firmly believes that you should go where your audience is. Never try to drag them to another place. You need to make it as easy as possible for your end users.

You’ll discover what promotional pieces work best and what you need to include to help drive people to one location.

If people happen upon you on the Hangout on Air page or on your YouTube channel, then these are bonus people.

When you promote your live event, you need to start 4 days in advance. Brandee uses a plugin for her website, so when you land, you need to fill in your email. Then instead of a double opt-in, it takes you through to the Watch Live page.

Brandee shares how she gathers questions for the show and what techniques she uses to remind people of the live hangout.

go live hangout

You need to keep promoting right up until the last minute before you go live.

About 30 minutes before you start your hangout on air, Brandee advises to start setting up and making sure the lighting and camera angle are in a good position.

Then 15 minutes before you start, you need to invite your guest to come and join you in the “green room.”

You only start to stream live once you click Start Broadcast. You’ll hear how Brandee does one last promotion 5 minutes before the hangout starts.

Once the broadcast has finished, the video is available within a couple of minutes in your YouTube Video Manager. You now have the opportunity to add the description, keywords or even edit the video.

Brandee shares how to make a trailer for your longer broadcasts and where to add annotations.

Listen to the show to hear what Brandee trims off her video.

Discovery of the Week

If you find yourself staring at your screen too long, then a cool tool to check out is f.lux. You can install it on your computer and iPhone/iPad.

It coordinates the time of day with the brightness of your screen. As you approach the nighttime, it takes the blue out of the screen and replaces it with red. It’s a great option, as it doesn’t make the screen so bright if you want to check something when it’s dark out.


Your screen adapts to the time of day.

Social Media Examiner’s New LinkedIn Group

We have recently founded a brand-new LinkedIn group called the Social Media Marketing Networking Club. It’s a place where you can go to help other people, network with your peers and get your questions answered. You can also post job openings.

social media marketing linkedin group

The Social Media Marketing Networking Club is a great place to connect with other marketers.

What makes it different from other LinkedIn groups is that it’s fully moderated by three people.

  1. You won’t see a lot of spam in there.
  2. It’s a very small group. There are just over 2000 members in it right now.
  3. These are marketers who really want to help others and enjoy networking.
  4. There is no self-promotion.

Go and check out our new LinkedIn group.

Call in and leave your social media–related questions for us and we may include them in a future show.

Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how this works for you.

Other Show Mentions

Social Media Success Summit 2013

Social Media Success Summit 2013 is a special online conference designed to help you master social media marketing (brought to you by Social Media Examiner).

Social Media Success Summit 2013.

Forty-five of the world’s leading social media pros will show you how. Instructors include Jay Baer (author, Youtility), Chris Brogan (co-author, Impact Equation), Mari Smith (co-author, Facebook Marketing), Michael Stelzner (founder, Social Media Examiner), Mark Schaefer (author, Return on Influence), Jesse Stay (author, Google+ for Dummies), Amy Porterfield (co-author, Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies) and experts from General Electric, Sony, E! Online, Kelly Services and Discovery Channel–just to mention a few. Fully online. Click here to learn more.

The conference is spread over the month of October and is designed in 45-minute sessions, so you get intense, high-quality content. We cover every social network and also include video marketing, podcasting and blogging.

If you are thinking of improving your blogging, some of the sessions include:

  • How to Make Your Blog Stand Out in a Noisy World—Marcus Sheridan
  • How to Create Blog Posts People Love to Share—Jeff Bullas
  • How to Optimize Your Blog for Search—Rich Brooks

It’s a great opportunity if you are thinking of getting into blogging or you want to master social media. It’s completely live online and you get the recordings and the transcripts. Be sure to check it out.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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  • DonnaGilliland

    Mike, this is an excellent article! I use Google+ Hangouts On Air within my business.

    I recently wrote an article on Google+ for a magazine and this is one of the tools that I stressed – Google+ Hangouts.On Air.

    Your article will no doubt help raise awareness of this fabulous tool that is totally free!

    Good job!

  • nedguy

    Good article. Two thoughts…

    1) Something to look forward to. Google are beta testing a new ‘Ask a Question’ app that will make it easy for viewers to ask questions live, for everyone to see them in the Hangout, and vote the better questions to the top of the pile.

    2) I think there’s an, as yet, unrecognised need for expert panellists (it is amazing how many people don’t feel comfortable about talking live in front of a camera) and a golden opportunity for influencers to market themselves by becoming recognised as regular panellists in niche industry sectors.

  • Ned – Wonderful thoughts and suggestions

  • Thanks Donna – We did our first one yesterday and it was a blast

  • Thank you Mike for this brilliant article. I got clear cut idea about the importance of Google+ hangout from this post. Another most important fact is that I found some valuable tools (camtasia, screenflow and Justgetflux ) which will beneficial in marketing.

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  • Mike and Brandee – I’m FIRED UP. This is awesome. I just recently started using Hangouts on Air for my mastermind community webinars, and it’s AMAZING what it has done for our communication and for getting to know one another on a more personal level (since we can see each other). Thanks for the great tips – love it!

  • Thanks John, glad you liked it and that Hangouts are working well for you

  • Appreciate the feedback 🙂

  • Hagar Kelly

    Brandee made it concise, factual and entertaining! Great job and knowledge there!

  • Thanks Hagar!

  • Awesome post Michael. Some 35 and older may remember when a simple two party, one on one video conference involved ISDN Lines (broadband at the time), AV/IT departments, expensive hardware and a lot of luck.

    With Google Hangouts, 10 way-video, video context sensitive (switch active camera based on audio) conferences are not available to the semi technically savvy, using nearly ubiquitous (true) broadband including mobile, delivered through cheap consumer devices.

    Hangouts On air make your video available to the masses. Recording for creating and cataloging as digital assets. Amazing.

    When you look at Google Hangouts in this light, you can’t help but smile and say “you have come a long way baby. What’s next, flying cars?”

  • Thanks Rick! Back to The Future… 🙂

  • We have been using Google Hangout for our webinar series at Green Sisterhood. However, I find I can’t share a screen on Chrome. I can on Mozilla. Go figure. (I have a PC.) Sometimes Google Hangout has sketchy video quality.

    Also if you have google apps for business, I think you can have 15 people on a hangout.

  • Umane Paul


    Great! Beginners would love to be regularly updated with this type of information/training until they are able to find their bearing right. More geese to your elbow!


  • I didn’t know about the Camtasia thing. Tried to do a private screen share tutorial last week and bombed. Now at least I know why. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  • Mike, Could you roll back the podcast to the part where she gave her very special ninja trick for turning Keynote into a Google Air presentation? She got as far as saying “save it as Quicktime” and then the final part about what to do AFTER you save it as Quicktime was not covered. Right now, I’m half-a-ninja. Thanks.

  • Brandee, Good job getting featured here in the Social Media Examiner. Hope things go well for you with your Hangouts Business!

    Hangouts are a wonderful way to communicate! That thing I was working on is now ready… hope to see you ‘on the inside’.

  • Just guessing, but if you use the Hangout Tool called Screen Share (built into all Hangouts for free) you can select a separate window to ‘share’… be sure that what you are sharing is in a movable window (i.e. the Quicktime movie player), and it will work out better for you when you use the Hangout Screen Share option… hope you are now fully Ninja-fied 😉

  • Moniza

    Outstanding Mike. Great communication tools.

  • Thank you, @videoleadsonline:disqus. I’ll try that and fill up the google air main page with a few more “testing” windows. Appreciate you taking the time to respond.

  • Test and Test HOA are quite popular topics on search! 😉
    Good luck with your journey.

  • The Jetsons cartoon had flying cars and inside them they had ‘video calls’ – I’ve used the “Morning Mask” video staring Jane Jetson to drive home the visual aspect of Hangouts and how they were predicted oh so long ago. BTW, Google also has the self-driving vehicle, it just seems to be earth-bound at this point.

  • The Questions App is quite nice to use, but IMO it has one big challenge to overcome… portability.

    It needs to work no matter where you are watching the video conversation (which means it needs to be part of the HOA Video Embed)… once it does that, then many of the issues we have been having with it will be resolved. (one other won’t – that still bugs me – how to easily address the loads of Q’s not addressed live)

  • Glad to see you took the big step into the HOA world… what took you so long? 😉 Hope to see more of you guys using Hangouts, “that magical communications tool”!

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  • Thank you John! Glad to hear you are jumping on Hangouts!

  • Thank you Hagar! 🙂

  • Hi Pat! Sorry for the delay – For Keynote – convert your slides to Quicktime. Then you screen share the Quicktime of your slides. Much cleaner for the end user and it saves the transitions and you can manually advance the slides with the arrows on your keyboard. That is my preferred way of screen sharing! 🙂

  • Hey @videoleadsonline:disqus – woooo HOOOO!! Congrats!! AND thank you! 🙂 I am sure I will be headed over there!

    Thank you as always for your support! 🙂 Back at you! 🙂

  • Brandee, I like your Quicktime trick for making Keynote play nice with Hangout’s screen share… wanna write that up into a nice Google+ post and share it with me?, I’ll then pass it along to all the Mac Hangout folks on Google+… and you can have more adoring fans on that platform too!

  • You got it! I actually have a vid about it too! Which would you prefer! And hee! Hee!! 🙂

  • Send me both in Private messages on G+ and we’ll strategize as to the best way to share ’em for you.

  • Pat Coakley here you go! At Ronnie’s suggestion for the G+ group – made this quick 2 minute video of how I do it!

  • Hey Anna – Odd that it doesn’t work in Chrome.

  • thanks Umane

  • Thanks Moniza

  • I know. It just might be my computer.

  • Sarah Jocson

    For those startups and small businesses, it may be even more critical that every marketing resource expended produce a return, fast?

  • Great Article Michael. To be honest i did not use Google Plus Hangouts before, after reading effort you have put in this article i wish i will do my first hangout and let you know my experience with it. I know the camtasia tool before but screenflow and Justgetflux are new for me Thanks for sharing.

  • Awesome use of Jetsons Ronnie 🙂 Google self-driving car will be game changing on so many levels and my gut tells me Google likely has dedicated resources charting the product roadmap to enable flight cars with autopilot, maybe dubbed Project Astro!

  • Here is that video re. the Jetsons and Hangouts: Jane Jetson – Morning Mask video

  • Sarah

    Great info here, thanks Brandee and Mike!

    Question … if you’ve maxed out the number of people in your hangout (on video), is there a way to have another 100 people in the chat watching, participating and learning the info (that aren’t on the video portion)?

  • Amazing article!! Really an insightful post. Thanks for sharing the
    ideas on Google hangouts that many marketers are really looking for..
    Your post has really helped me in my business. Thank you once again.

  • Yes there are ways Sarah, but you need to use ‘other tools’ – I use the Google+ Events tool as a place to do that (as well as others). You’ll want to use a particular tool set/combo depending on where your ‘viewers’ are most comfy. There are more and more tools coming out every day to turn this thing into more of a ‘traditional webinar’ tool as well, complete with Registration/Followup emailing systems… Exciting times indeed!

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  • Great how-to info for getting the hang of Google +. Love the idea of Hangouts on Air being an inclusive alternative to webinars.

    Just one question re: Hangouts – are these one-to-one chats with another person via video that exists for the time of the actual chat, or are can anyone else watch these chats after they’ve finished? How private are they?


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  • Great article. One question. Everything I can find about copyright and content ownership on Hangouts is warning me not to use material that belongs to others. My concern is, do I retain copyright to my own material I create and share on Hangouts?

  • Hey Tony – I would consult a legal expert as I have no idea.

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  • smorisch

    I’m excited to read through this article and listen to the podcast. Having used Google+ On Air just to see what it’s like, I found that it’s a great experience! I do have one thing to mention… When you are interviewing, Make Sure you are HardWired in to your internet connection. The experience I had was awesome except that I was wireless with a Comcast “High Speed” connection that isn’t so much. While the edits are coming out so so due to transmission speed and static from a wireless connection the content did get recorded to my YouTube and I was able to download it and edit in Adobe Premium. It’s been a fabulous learning experience and I’m excited for the next opportunity. Thanks for posting these articles guys.. You all rock!!

  • smorisch

    Google+ On Air has options for Private broadcast that records to your YouTube Account. You can then download the video after it’s finished and use excepts for marketing. The video will remain private until you choose to make it Public, if you choose to. I’ve been editing and only publicizing the edits, which you can do in YouTube, I just like Adobe Premium to edit.

  • Nice and interesting post .Thanks for this.