Social media has opened the floodgates of interaction between organizations and their publics, though much of that conversation currently takes place with a keyboard. Consider that more than 4 billion hours of YouTube videos are viewed each month and weekly 100 million people take some sort of social action on YouTube, whether it’s liking, Tweeting, commenting or more. Video is a powerful marketing tool that allows a brand to step beyond the keyboard and attain a more familiar presence within its social community. Some organizations are taking it a step further and interacting in real-time with their audiences. How?
Enter Google+ Hangouts.
The hangout feature was included in the initial launch of Google+. It lets people from around the world get together to video chat as a group about different topics of interest. Since its inception, the service has added a few new features that are marketing-friendly, such as the ability to broadcast live from Google+ – as well as the organization’s website – and the ability to record the session and post it to YouTube for future viewing.
Take a look at the innovative ways some organizations took advantage of Google+ hangouts over the past week:
- Manchester City Football Club hosted its first hangout this week. Fans had the opportunity to chat with Patrick Vieira, Manchester City’s football development executive, before the team faced Arsenal on the field.
- The Economist hung out with readers to discuss the rise of China, a topic it has explored in recent issues of its publication.
- The White House hosted a hangout to discuss the Obama Administration’s efforts to combat human trafficking in the United States and abroad.
- The New York Public Library hosted American novelist Stephen Chbosky to discuss his book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
- KQED Science hosted a hangout with leading astronomers to discuss black holes.
- Pure Michigan, Michigan’s travel and tourism organization, hosted a 30-minute hangout with experts in Michigan’s craft beer industry.
How can your organization leverage Google+ Hangouts?
First, think about your audience. Whether it’s a cause, product or service, what makes them rally around you? Are there frequently asked questions you can address or helpful tips that would interest your publics? Look for an interesting topic that is relevant to your business and your audience.
Second, the spokesperson or spokespeople should be prepared with the same media training that would apply to a television interview. This should include the company’s key messages, what the audience should take away from the hangout and how to handle any potential dicey situations.
Third, promote your hangout on your website and on your other social media platforms. Many organizations choose to take questions via a designated hashtag on Twitter, especially when broadcasting a live hangout.
Hangouts provide one more tool for organizations to build a community with their publics. Have you ever held or participated in a hangout? How was your experience?
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