Google+ Hangouts: The Future of Live Broadcasting [Event Summary] #SMWNYC #SMWGoogle

by Kate Brodock on 19 February 2014

Posted in: Conferences & Events

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We’re here at Social Media Week 2014 in NYC!

Panel Description: 

You may have used Google+ Hangouts to connect with friends online, but did you know that you can broadcast Hangouts to a live global audience, record them to YouTube to broadcast later, and even develop apps to run within Hangouts? Google has been working to make Hangouts a 21st-century broadcast platform that anyone can use to live stream conversations to the world. And some of the most innovative organizations on the web are redefining the future of live broadcasting on Hangouts.


From Steve Grove, Director of Community Partnerships for Google+

Google+ has focused on added, enhanced features and video quality (HD) in the past few iterations.  Additionally, there’s been a focus on driving audience.  People haven’t developed the habit of of heading to the web for appointment-driven content before, hence their Showtime feature, which schedules a Hangout for the future, complete with reminders etc.  They also added a Q&A feature, which allows an unlimited number of audience members to engage in the conversation beyond the 10 people allowed inside the Hangout.  As most people know, Google+ Hangouts are also archived on YouTube, so people can access it post-event.

They want to do things that are beyond TV - Hangout effects, a shopping feature if you like some of the things you see on a Hangout, and drop-ins from celebrities etc.

What they want for the future? Try to get creative with partnerships, connecting people who wouldn’t normally be connected.  Lastly, they’re really excited about mobile Hangouts….live Google+ Hangouts that anyone can record events and share them and interact with the world.

From Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Host and Producer of HuffPo

Conversations are now happening around the news. HuffPo wants to redefine what it means to be an expert. They’re trying to take people who are already in situations that are being covered into the limelight. Rather than talk to “experts,” talk to the people on the ground.  By bringing these people into conversations, it allows viewers to see situations from the ground - which provides a certain amount of “expertise” - and access this situational awareness to the coverage.

From Katie Morse, Social Media Marketing Manager from Billboard

They’ve used Hangouts to connect fans directly to celebrities, and take them right to the red carpet.  It also allows for celebrities who are less “socially connected” to be available in this way to their fans.  They kept production down by using a webcam etc.  They’ve also had high-production events…which highlights the options available for quality within the Hangout feature.

They consistently ask themselves what value they’re bringing to their audience and how they can consistently break new ground on the platform. It’s about engagement and value and being at the forefront of technology use.

From Scott Mebus, Executive Director at Hearst and Robin Wallace, Social & Video Strategy at Hearst

Many of the brands they manage are hesitant and closed, and they wanted a way to open the doors a little bit and become more responsive, listen, and react more quickly.  They were able to really develop a relationship with their audience - VIP fan groups (an audience that came back every week), etc.  They even opened up their pitch meeting to a client up to a live audience.

They’ve used regular events to create a reliable, enthusiastic fanbase that they knew would be active every week.  They’re a lifestyle brand, which means they need to consistently ask why does this need to be live (they don’t deal with breaking news)?  Does it enhance the relationships with their brands? Does it make our audience feel closer to the brand?  Is the information timely?

How to succeed? Be responsive. Be accessible. Be cost-effective. Be optimistic. Under this, they’ve been able to try some things they would have never been able to otherwise.  Google Hangouts gives a lot of insight into your fans for cheap, and you can apply that to other areas of your communications.

Lastly, BE BOLD! As long as you’re authentic, they’ll love it and go along with you.

From Adam Roth, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Council of Fashion Designers of America

 They needed a way to make a highly competitive and noisy space, with limited exposure opportunities (think small floor space) and get creative with getting in front of their target audience.

They made ample use of the “Shop” feature on Google+ Hangouts, which allows you to include purchasing options within your Hangout.  They also brought in influential designers in for Hangouts.  They found a measurable increase in not only viewing, but also purchasing for each designer.

This allowed designers a platform to connect with their audience, ongoing, valuable and popular content for the audience, and ultimately strengthened their mission to highlight NYC-base designers.  This levels the playing field and you have a connection to people you wouldn’t normally connect with.


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