Google+ is becoming more and more relevant to bloggers every day. According to GlobalWebIndex, it is outpacing Twitter and is now the second most popular social network (after Facebook, of course).
But Google+ is much more than a platform on which to share blog posts and interesting status updates. Within Google+ is a powerful feature called Hangouts On Air. The best part about this feature is that it is absolutely free to use. It’s also super easy to set up.
Hangouts On Air allows you to broadcast live on the internet. As you record from your computer, the broadcast is live streamed on Google+ and on YouTube. Once the recording is over, the video is automatically saved onto your YouTube channel for future viewing.
Before I get into how to setup a Hangout On Air, let me explain why a blogger would want to use the feature. I have personally us Hangouts On Air to broadcast live office hours for a blogging class I taught on Skillshare. I have also participated in a roundtable discussion with UNICEF USA to help raise awareness around issues affecting women and girls in developing countries.
While the office hours were a required component to teach my blogging class, they also allowed me to answer students’ questions in a more personal way and to get valuable feedback for future classes. Students sent me questions prior to the Hangout. They also tweeted me live questions and commented on the live stream in YouTube as I talked to them from my home office.
The roundtable discussion gave me the opportunity to reach a larger audience while I talked about a topic that was relevant to my blog. In this case, there were six of us participating in the Hangout in different locations with one person acting as the moderator. People were able to ask questions via the comments and chat section of the Hangout on Google+.
In both cases, I interacted with people all around the globe. Do you see where I’m going here? Bloggers can use Google+ Hangouts On Air to connect with their readers, provide education, expand their reach and promote themselves in a way that is both personal and real.Have you ever wanted your own talk show? You can create one using Google+ Hangouts On Air.
How about hosting your own webinar or roundtable discussion? You can do it with the click of a button – OK, maybe a few buttons – with Google+ Hangouts On Air. All you need is a Google+ and a YouTube account. And, yes, the courage to live stream the event. (Take it from me, once you get started, it becomes much more comfortable!) Here are the steps (taken directly from the Google+ Hangouts On Air common questions page): https://support.google.com/
1. Visit plus.google.com/hangouts.
2. Click Start a Hangout On Air.
3. Give your broadcast a name and invite the people you want to join. (Note: If you do not have other participants in your Hangout, leave this blank. You can have up to 10 people on the broadcast with you.)
4. Click Start Hangout On Air.
5. Once everyone’s joined and you’re ready to go live, click Start broadcast at the top of the screen.
6. Once you click Start broadcast, you’re officially “On Air” and the public will be able to watch your live broadcast. When you are done with your broadcast, you simply end the Hangout. While you are broadcasting, you can also share your screen, which is a nice feature if you are doing an educational Hangout. The video is then automatically uploaded to your YouTube channel. It’s typically available 20 minutes after you complete your broadcast. That’s it! What will you broadcast via a Hangout On Air?
Jennifer Barbour is a professional writer and new media marketing consultant. She writes the Another Jennifer blog where she aims to entertain, to inspire and to make you think, though not necessarily all at once. She also writes for Mom Bloggers for Social Good and is the Philanthropy Editor at pplkind.com. Her passions are writing, philanthropy, her awesome family and bacon. And, yes, she’s on Google+, along with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.