The increasingly omnipotent Google has introduced a number of new features over the last year or so to its Google+ platform. Here’s one you may have heard of but not necessarily investigated too deeply: Hangouts on Air, allowing users to broadcast live video from their Google+ account via YouTube. Live video streams on YouTube have been garnering large audiences for quite some time and are increasingly used as a part of an online marketing campaign. Google has now harnessed this to bring the function to users on its rapidly-growing social network platform.
The YouTube live feature has been in beta for the past year or so. Initially it was only released in specific categories to users with more than 1,000 subscribers. It was then rolled out to users with over 100 subscribers and now any user with an account in good standing can use the feature.
This live function served to further cement YouTube as a hive of online video activity and it established YouTube as a viable TV alternative. The live streaming function has allowed advertisers to target YouTube users more specifically. In the long run it remains to be seen how effective YouTube as a TV service will be.
The new video streaming feature may allow for smaller business’s to advertise effectively to a localised audience.
Hangouts on Air
Hangouts on Air is slightly different however, as it allows two-way video streams and the ability to record and edit the broadcast. It also pushes users towards Google+, a social media site that has yet to fully realise its potential. With that said, it’s thought by many digital professionals that 2014 will be G+’s year and it’s already showing itself to be increasing important to SEO, as the image from Moz shows below.
So if you want to use Hangouts on Air let’s look at what you need to know.
Accounts You Need
Google Hangouts on Air requires a YouTube account and a Google + account.
Setting up a YouTube account is straightforward, especially now, as it’s integrated fully with Google. Simply follow the instructions on this link to get started.
With a YouTube account you can have a presence on the video site, or indeed your very own channel, as well as comment and of course it’s the first step in using the Hangouts on Air feature.
Don’t forget to verify your account. That’s it, the final step. Now head to Google+.
Make sure that your Google+ account is linked to your YouTube one – any new YouTube account is linked by default. If, however, you have an older account you can connect it to a Google+ profile here, or to a Google+ Page here.
So Google+ and YouTube are your basic tools and now that you have them set up, linked and running you are almost ready to get cracking. However, before you get out the camcorder, there are a few things to bear in mind first.
According to Google, you won’t be able to use the Hangouts on Air feature if your YouTube account has any outstanding problems. The ones to watch out for are:
- Your YouTube channel has any copyright problems.
Google operates a three strikes policy. If you have three instances of copyright circumvention your YouTube account will be suspended. This is a long process to rectify and can take up to six months, so make sure that what you are uploading is yours and/or you have the relevant permissions to share it.
- Your YouTube channel has global blocks on videos. This is similar to the one above. If Google has muted, blocked, or suspended any of your videos it means that it has determined that you have breached copyright.
- Your country does not allow it. If you are from China, Thailand, or Vietnam the Hangout on Air feature will not work.
If your account is in good shape, and you are in a country that doesn’t restrict access then there is little stopping you from getting started.
Before you start broadcasting double check that your computer can handle it. Google has a list of necessary hardware to help you ensure that your live stream will run smoothly.
- Make sure you have the latest version of your browser and also check your bandwidth and CPU, available memory, disk space and so on. Most modern computers will of course run the Hangouts on Air feature easily
- Download the latest version of the Hangouts plug in
- Update your webcam drivers if necessary
- Connect your headphones/microphone
Ensure that all of the above are in working order and you should have no problems with your broadcast. All of the prerequisite requirements have been met.
Lights, Camera, Action – Scheduling Your Broadcast
Just like you can with a TV ad, you can bookmark a time slot for your broadcast. This means that you can inform your audience and make sure that they are free and available to tune in. By scheduling your broadcast, you can send your audience to the event before it has started and you can even set up a customised trailer, so that your audience is aware of what they are about to watch.
You can easily set up a Hangout on Air without an events page here.
Or you can set one up with an events page:
- Visit Hangouts on Air
- Click Start a Hangout on Air
- Type in the name of your broadcast and provide a description
- Pick a time
- If you choose now the Hangout will start immediately after the events page has been created
- If you pick later select a date when you want the Hangout to begin
- Pick your audience – If you select ‘public’, it will be viewable by more people. However you can just add people from your circles. Remember though that anyone will be able to view it on YouTube so if it’s for a project that you prefer select clients or prospects to view, then you’re better off with a closed webinar.
You can upload a video that users will see when they are waiting for the broadcast to start. This can be a small teaser trailer and is a perfect opportunity to shine, so get creative. If you don’t upload a video, users will see a countdown leading to the start of your broadcast.
If you enable the Q and A app, users can ask questions before the broadcast begins. This feature can only be turned on prior to the live stream commencing.
Broadcasting your Hangout
Go to your event and click start, invite your friends and viewers, then finally click start broadcast to go live.
Once your broadcast has started you can add more apps and features.
You’re Live, On Air
You’ve made it online and you’re broadcasting your show – make sure it’s a good one and gets the brand message across. Remember if it doesn’t go quite to plan, you can always edit it later to show off your best side. Once the broadcast is over it will be available on your YouTube page and your Google+ account.
If you are unsure about what you can and cannot broadcast double check Google’s copyright policy here.
Hangouts on Air are another one of those additions to G+ that the search giants have managed to slip quietly into the numerous features that they’re adding to their social network. It’s an ideal opportunity to speak directly to your audience in a way that they can engage with, so what are you waiting for, get filming and good look if you’re entering the world of live video for the first time.