17th May 2012
For those of you not familiar with the term google hangouts, they are, quite simply, a relatively new tool introduced by google, which allows up to ten people to use webcams and audio and have a skype-like live conversation where they can all see and hear each other. A very jolly and useful way to conduct a business meeting with attendees in different locations perhaps, but relatively limited use to the event organiser?
Until now that is. Last week, google introduced a new element to google hangouts which will potentially take them to a whole new level – the opportunity to run 'hangouts on air'. This means that, whilst they're still restricted to ten 'live' participants who actively take part in the discussion, this discussion can be streamed live through youtube to a global and unlimited audience.
Suddenly, the possibilities for event organisers seem endless: From using google hangouts to add a virtual element to a live event (where you get a panel of speakers from around the world to participate in the Q&A), to using them as 'virtual round tables', to replacing 'more traditional webinar formats' (who would have thought we'd be calling webinars 'traditional' just yet!) to simply conducting training or e-learning sessions through them.
This is clearly very early days, and is currently only being used by early adopters, but it is surely only a matter of time before it becomes more mainstream. But will brands shy away from the inevitably 'home-made' look and feel created by a group of people signing in with video and audio from multiple locations? Does live streaming on youtube make it seem 'cheap' or does it create an incredible opportunity to reach a massive audience? Does the fact that it will be available on youtube on demand mean that the 'live' element has a reduced sign-up because the momentum of 'now' is reduced? Or does this not matter because of the potential to tap into that global audience? Might event planners use google hangouts instead of webinar platforms as a way to conduct virtual conferences?
Here at Events Guru, we think the introduction of google hangouts on air represents a massive opportunity for the events, meetings and live marketing industries. We'd really like to hear from you if you are an event organiser who is already using or considering using google hangouts to disseminate your event content. We'd love to share your experiences and stories with our audience. Feel free to add your comments below.
In the meantime, if you are thinking about how you can use google plus hangouts for your event, then check out these resources for more info and advice:
Jenise Fryatt's blog provides a clear and insightful introduction to google hangouts and a number of ways in which they can be used in the events industry.
Johnathan Chung has compiled a really useful list of tips, guides, and how-tos, including some really useful videos.
There is also a very handy how to get started guide here;