Do you want a more interactive experience with your audience?
Hangouts are changing the way brands connect with audiences to share advice, interview influencers and more.
In this article you'll find 10 ways you can entice your audience to join you in real time on your next Hangout on Air.
Why a Live Audience Matters
One of the most intriguing aspects of Google Hangouts on Air is how your live audience accesses your show. Each Hangout on Air is broadcast, recorded and uploaded to YouTube. You can even share your Hangout in real time on your website.
That kind of social media integration makes Google hangouts on air the future of broadcasting. The potential for viral expansion is enormous, especially if you have a live audience talking about your content on various platforms.
But what if you're having trouble getting real-time viewers to your live Hangout event?
Use the following 10 methods to attract more attendees to your next Google Hangout on Air and every Hangout you produce thereafter.
#1: Use Consistent Branding
The power of consistent branding across platforms is unquestionable. Use a branded banner image (or theme) when you share your Google Hangout because it helps draw in viewers because they recognize you.
Chef Dennis Littley does this well with his Good Day Google+ Hangout series. His branded theme makes his updates immediately recognizable in the news stream and draws fans' attention to his weekly show.
Tip: The Hangout on Air banner size is 1200 pixels x 300 pixels and you can make one for free using PicMonkey.
#2: Create Eye-catching Headlines
Google Hangout on Air headlines are extremely important. Potential viewers are not going to give you their time if your Hangout sounds lame.
Think what you may about the merits of the topic below, but the headline of this Hangout is going to grab attention. Any blogger interested in making more money is probably going to stop and give this Hangout a second look.
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Tip: If you're struggling to create great headlines, read How to Create Headlines That Go Viral With Social Media.
#3: Keep Track of Your Audience
Just like an email list, creating and updating a notification circle is a necessity for long-term Google Hangout on Air success.
Share your event in the public stream and any relevant Google+ communities. Ask people to comment and let you know if they'd like you to notify them about future episodes. When people respond that they want to be notified, add them to your notification circle.
Tip: After every Hangout you host, expand the Watched section so you can see who attended. Whether it's 5 or 500, add each name to your notification circle.
If someone has attended once, there's a pretty good chance they'll want to attend again. Your notification circle is the trick to compound growth.
#4: Go for Friends of Friends
OK, so you're sharing in the public stream and relevant communities. If you want even further reach, ask attendees and those in your notification circle to help you promote your Hangout everywhere they can. That word of mouth is powerful.
Make it easy for everyone to share your Hangout on Twitter by creating a ClickToTweet link for each new Hangout. ClickToTweet lets you come up with a tweet so your friends don't have to. They click the link and they're done.
I suggest including the ClickToTweet link in your Hangout on Air details, any email blasts you send out and all of your Hangout event page shares. And don't forget to include your branded hashtag! (See #7 below.)
Tip: Ask your audience for more than Google+ shares and +1s. Twitter, Facebook and other platform shares can help you reach different audiences.
#5: Add Audience Reminders
It's one thing to get people to click Yes under “Are you going to watch?” It's a whole other monster getting those people to actually show up to the live event.
An informal poll of Hangout hosts I know suggested that 10-25% of people who responded yes actually showed up to the event.
I had similar results until I did one simple thing: I added a reminder image to my Hangout event page. Since then I've seen a 40-50% increase in live participation of registered attendees.
When you add a reminder image to your event page, it pushes that image into your public stream and notifies everyone who said yes or maybe to attending the event.
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Tip: Use Canva to create a picture that reminds your audience to drop what they're doing and come soak in the valuable knowledge you'll be sharing.
#6: Make the Most of Your Teaser Video
As a Google Hangout on Air host, you have the option to create a simple 20- to 30-second video describing your Hangout. This quick peek gives your potential audience a glance at the value they'll get from your Hangout.
Your teaser is a great opportunity to introduce your upcoming Hangout guest(s) and share some of the topics or questions you'll cover. Done well, your trailer can have a dramatic impact on attendance.
In the box with the Play button, you have the option to add a video or an image as a trailer for your Hangout. As you can see below, Wade Harman uses a branded image.
Tip: Check out Hype My Hangout to create 10-second videos and quickly upload them to YouTube to add as Hangout trailer videos.
#7: Collect the Conversation With Hashtags
Unlike on Facebook, hashtags matter on Google+. Use a relevant, branded hashtag to help you (and your attendees) easily collect and track conversations about your show.
When choosing a hashtag, make sure it's relevant to your brand and message. Do some research and find out if anyone else is using that same hashtag. Too much hashtag overlap can confuse audience members who find themselves in unrelated conversations.
In his Get on Track, Stay on Track Hangout, Jason Wiser uses the hashtag #ontracktips as part of every show.
Tip: Your hashtag becomes part of your show’s branding. Use it on Google+, Twitter and Instagram so your attendees can participate in the conversation, no matter which platform they're using.
#8: Make It Easy for Mobile Users
Depending on your mobile device, watching a Google Hangout on Air can be a little clunky.
If you want to make it easier on your mobile viewers (and you do), give them a way to watch your Hangout on Air on YouTube. Since Hangouts on Air livestream to YouTube, it's as easy as sharing a link.
Be sure to share the YouTube link in the event details section for your Hangout and in the event comment stream as the Hangout draws near.
Tip: To find your YouTube link, click the Link icon at the top right of the Details section and then copy the YouTube link.
#9: Give Your Audience Options
Podcasting is incredibly effective for launching products and delivering a deeper, richer message to your audience, but one thing it can't give you is live engagement.
Google Hangouts on Air changes that. In fall 2013, YouTube upgraded the sound quality capture from Hangouts on Air. The result is that you can easily create a Hangout and a podcast from the same show.
Here's an example of one of my hangouts with Martin Shervington. After the Hangout, I downloaded the captured video from YouTube, then stripped the audio so I could package a podcast episode. I ended up with two ways my audience could enjoy the interview.
I've found that making Hangouts as interactive as possible is a strong draw for audience members to show up live.
Tip: You can use Audacity to take the audio from your Hangout on air to create a podcast.
#10: Hang Out in the Comments
There are few things that drive Google Hangout attendance more than your active participation in the Comments section of the event page.
Take time during the show or spend 10-15 minutes after the show to engage with your audience in the comments. That simple effort is the most important aspect of turning a one-way broadcast into an interactive experience.
Tip: With built-in tools like Comment Tracker, integrating audience questions and comments into your Hangout on Air is easy and intuitive.
Google Hangouts on Air take audience-building to the extreme by providing a two-way experience between you and your audience.
It all starts with attracting live viewers and then getting them to return again and again.
Make it easy for them to find you by branding your Hangouts via your cover image, event reminder, trailer and hashtag.
Once viewers find you, make it worth their while to return by offering options like watching your Hangout via Google+, YouTube or your website. If viewers are mobile, be sure to give them the link to your YouTube channel.
Creating a circle of interested and previous attendees and contacting them before each Hangout keeps you top of mind too. Don't be shy about asking them to help you spread the word.
What do you think? Have you used Google Hangouts on Air? How have you attracted more people to your events? How do you engage with your Google Hangout audience? Leave your experience and questions in the comments.
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