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https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0003/3473/16-blog-thumb.pngIn the run-up to our Integrated Marketing Week event in New York on June 10th, we’ve been holding a series of Video Expert panels over on our Google+ page.

As with any barely tested, slightly-wobbly video technology, we’ve had a couple of hiccups along the way.

Fortunately we’ve learned from our mistakes, and now you can too. Here’s how to use the new look Google+ to hold a great On Air hangout...

1: The preparation

First of all, let’s cover some video basics: 

Select your topic

The great thing about Hangouts is that they offer you a variety of content options, all of which can be repurposed across multiple platforms.

Let’s say that I want to do a ‘How to’ feature for the blog.

With a hangout I can broadcast it on G+, stream it on YouTube, take questions via Twitter, and share the video on YouTube and Facebook, all at once.

The only thing left is choosing my topic. Recently, we’ve been covering all aspects of marketing integration, it’s a hot topic and having fresh video content will hopefully give us a search bump and encourage social sharing too

Get great people to help

We’ve been lucky enough to have some great panellists on board recently, and it’s really important to think about your speakers.

Obviously they should know the subject back-to-front, but think about this as an engagement opportunity as well. Inviting bloggers to appear on a hangout is a nice way to reach out to new people who you might want to work with, and taking part is free and reasonably straight forward.  

Similarly, while you can run a hangout single-handed, you’ll get a much better response if you have someone on hand to keep an eye on your social channels, tweet key questions and soundbites throughout, and take questions from your audience.

Remember, these can be coming from Google+, Twitter, Your blog comments section, and YouTube. It’s too distracting to run all this on your own and engage with your hangout attendees, so get help

Find your best side

Nature has seen fit to bless me with the kind of natural good looks normally found in the ‘reject pumpkins’ bin at the supermarket, and while I’m sure everyone reading this is possessed with natural grace and beauty, it can’t hurt to make sure you’re in a well-lit space without too much background noise – try to avoid holding a hangout in the middle of an Iron Maiden concert/gunfight if possible.

Similarly, a touch of foundation never hurt anyone, especially people like me with incredibly shiny foreheads. Time to whip out that manscara guys...

Script and rehearse properly

How much are you going to cover? How long is this thing going to take? 

Nobody wants to tune in to watch five minutes of mumbling and some long blank looks. You’re presenting to the board, so make sure you know what you’re talking about, and be prepared to answer questions.

Don’t be tempted to bluff it. 

2: The practical stuff

Set up an event on G+

Head to your Google+ page and switch to your company page:


Click the ‘events’ icon from the Home menu in the sidebar and hit ‘create event'. 


Make sure you have a banner ready to use in the 'theme' bar. If you haven’t got budget for this don’t panic, it’s easy to knock up a straightforward banner in Paintshop, or online using something like Picktochart.

Here’s one I created in five minutes for our previous Channel Integration Hangout:


(Incidentally, Google+ has a handy photo resizing function these days which can help here)

Fill in details about the event (obviously), time, date and details of your host and panel.

Remember to tag them properly, and add a hashtag and a link to your supporting website if you have one: 


1: Guests are tagged

2: Hashtag included

3: Link to supporting website

4:Hit the ‘advanced’ option and you’ll see an option allowing you to set the event as a Google Hangout. 

Don’t do this! 

If you do, the page will send an invitation to join the hangout to everyone who confirmed they would attend. Obviously, you want them watching, NOT attending.

5: Underneath you’ll also see a ‘set as on-air hangout’ option. At time of writing this isn’t functioning in the UK (where I am), but presumably this will be available shortly, so check this. 

Tell people about it

Time to go into content marketing overdrive. Why should people come? Does Facebook know this is happening? Does Twitter? Have you thought about publishing a Q&A with your panel members in advance? And don’t forget to sum up your key takeaway points afterwards either.

You can email people who have confirmed attendance on your G+ page at any point to remind them to attend, so ideally set up a ‘we’re starting in one hour’ messaging and push it by email, and across social:


Spread that hashtag around, and encourage people to submit questions in advance. 

The ‘How To’ stuff

Finally, we’ve reached the day of the hangout. As Google has recently overhauled this, let’s run through the process step by step. 

  • Log into Gmail and open your Google+ account. 
  • Hit the Pages icon and switch to your page
  • Make sure all your panellists have added your page to their G+ circles in advance. 
  • Hit the ‘on-air hangouts’ icon:


  • Hit ‘Start a Hangout'


  • Invite your panel members to the hangout:


Once everyone is ‘in the room’, you’ll need to run one or two further steps, depending on where you want to stream your hangout. 

If you want it to appear on your YouTube channel, then open YouTube in separate tab.

  • Click the embed button at the top of the Google Hangout:


  • Copy the YouTube URL:


  • In YouTube, chose the ‘edit trailer’ option:


  • Add the URL. 

YouTube will begin streaming when you begin broadcasting your hangout. 

If you wanted to host the hangout on your site, or even within a blog post, you can also copy the HTML embed code and add it to your landing page.

If you’re streaming it through a blog post, add the code to the post and publish it before you begin. Again, the session should start streaming automatically. 

Now, return to your hangout and hit the ‘Start Broadcasting’ option, G+ will count you down, and you’re on the air.

Viewers can now watch and interact with your hangout on the channel of their choice: 


Here's how the hangout will appear on your page:


(Incidentally, Ben didn't have his camera switched on when we ran this test, hence his perfectly framed profile pic appearing above, handsome devil that he is)

Make the most of your content

YouTube will automatically record your hangout as it streams, and display it as the trailer on your YouTube page unless you specify otherwise, so after the hangout (and once you’ve thanked all the viewers of course!) head straight to YouTube and optimise the video with the correct title, information, links and tags. 


You can now reuse the video wherever and whenever you like. 

Finally, a note on usage. Google Hangouts are designed to be public, but they won’t collect a lot of information about the viewers for you (other than the G+ accounts of confirmed attendees). This means that if you want to generate direct leads, you may be better served using a closed webinar format than a hangout. These work best as PR to increase awareness. It’s a great, cheap way of providing great content. 

Oh and one more thing. You can check out our previous Integrated Marketing Week Hangouts over on our YouTube page right now, or sign up for our next Video Marketing Expert Series: Managing Integration, on our Google+ page - you know it makes sense.

And that's it - go hang out!

Matt Owen

Published 20 May, 2013 by Matt Owen

Matt Owen was formerly Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or hook up on LinkedIn.

203 more posts from this author

Comments (2)

Stefan Tornquist

Stefan Tornquist, Vice President, Research (US) at EconsultancyStaff

Great write up Matt!

I've had the pleasure of hosting some of Econsultancy's hangouts and just have a couple of things to add...

1. Hangouts offer a format that people seem to enjoy despite my best efforts. They're casual and naturally resistant to salesification from the presenters.

2. They're not a replacement for webinars. There are a lot of reasons for this, including the basic structure - hangouts are a conversation...webinars are a presentation. You also miss out on some of the benefits of formality - registrations, follow up emails, etc.

3. Chances are good you'll find yourself broadcasting from in front of a white wall- if so avoid white/very lights shirts or risk the floating head effect. Also good to avoid large patterns.

4. I've been told that moving back and forth with arms waving like a nut doesn't translate well. I have no idea why this has come up.

5. It's clear from your post, but worth reiterating...prepare early and test. The "relaxed" format will get mighty tense when you're 60 second from airtime and half your speakers aren't connected.

over 3 years ago

Ryan Skinner

Ryan Skinner, AD at Velocity

A note to @Stefan's comment "miss out on some of the benefits of formality - registrations, follow up emails, etc." -

We've run a couple Hangouts where we ran registrations through EventBrite (copied the idea from Branded3 - thanks!) and that worked like a charm. Send reminders. Follow-up emails. Got event feedback. Great stuff. And we now have 300+ people who specifically asked to get an email every time we'll hold a new Hangout.

over 3 years ago

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