How to Use Google+ Hangouts to Improve your Content Marketing Efforts
For all those content marketers, content strategists, content managers, and content writers, who are slavishly committed to hatching seminal marketing content that turns heads, I salute you. I am happy to report that I’m on your team. Be forewarned; this written piece on Google+ Hangout might conjure up some very creative ideas in your heads. And when I say heads, I mean all those smart brains of yours that have worked sedulously to optimize content as a way to introduce and emphasize your company’s brand in the front of a vast online audience. Simply put, it ain’t always that easy.
The Challenge For the Content Creator
We’re constantly trying to get ahead of the content curve, and I admit that on a daily basis I strive to generate unique, innovative content. I think about all the diverse marketing tactics to improve my company’s marketing and branding efforts, and more importantly, build original, attention-grabbing content strategy proposals that will pull in the viewer or reader, and teach them something worthwhile. Content management isn’t about direct business-to-consumer (B2C) advertising. We see enough direct B2C advertising on a daily basis: website banners, sponsored links, commercials, radio spots, television ads, mailers, and even billboards on our daily commutes. Traditional business-to-consumer marketing is, without a doubt, not as effective as it once was. According to InternetWorldStats.com, more than 2.5 billion people use the Internet. Online consumers are hungry for information that relates to their day-to-day lives, and provides them with the information they need to make an educated decision about purchasing a product or service. It’s also about earning their respect. You want to forge a positive association with your brand and consumers.
Why Am I Writing This Post?
The company I work for sells IP video surveillance cameras and security products that appeal to a specific market segment of security professionals, homeowners, and business owners and executives who want to protect their property and instill a safe environment. I’ve asked myself, what content can I write or develop besides writing white papers and website copy? There had to be another way to grab the consumer’s attention. It doesn’t matter what your employer/company sells or provides as a service – you can present content in a meaningful and articulate way that bolsters their online status and catapults the brand.
Google+ Hangouts: Even Conan O’Brien Approves
This is where Google+ Hangouts came into the picture. The company I work for already has Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages, so we needed to figure out how to best leverage their features. Google+ Hangouts was a new feature to us, so we definitely wanted to see what it could do, and if it could rejuvenate our marketing efforts. Google+ Hangouts, for those who don’t know, is like the Skype’s video conferencing service without the lengthy downloading process, and it should be noted that it isn’t always user-friendly, specifically with regard to people like my 67-year-old father who still to this day can’t figure it out. Putting together a Google+ Hangout takes a couple of seconds to download the plug-in, and voila, you’re ready to run a practice video, broadcast live, and record at the same time – with up to 10 people might I add in one video. Next, you just add the emails of those you want to invite in on the video conversation, and in about two shakes of a lamb’s tail, they’ve received the invitation and join the Hangout. We decided to host a Workplace Violence Prevention and Safety webinar on a Google+ Hangouts because we were eager to express our video surveillance aptitude, and it succeeded. Here’s more on what you can do with it:
Other Uses for Google+ Hangouts
Webinars are excellent teaching tools, and are much easier to watch and listen when they’re presented in a visually-striking way that isn’t conveyed through a PowerPoint presentation (this particular webinar approach makes me want to take a nap… at my desk). Want to teach your customers something that will help them in the long-run, such as how to install a gadget or what jeans best match your individual style? Then, you’re in luck. The possibilities are practically endless. You can create a funny video or skit that promotes your products or services in a subliminal manner that doesn’t scream “BUY THIS!” Additional ideas: You can interview industry experts on video; you can speak proudly about any partnerships or community outreach projects your company is involved in; announce contests and upcoming sales; and even use it as a way for key employees to introduce themselves and their company role to online users who browse the site. The recorded video can be easily stored and viewed under the “About Us” tab on the site, if you decide to try out the latter method.
Creating a Google+ Hangout
To start, make sure your company has a Google+ page, which again is effortless to create, as it caters to end-users (like myself) and businesses, alike. Our company was then given the option to create a hangout, which also gives users the ability to “rehearse” the video before the big day, i.e. the day your webinar or promotional video goes live. Once it goes live, it automatically records the video, which is sent to your YouTube page. Thank goodness there’s a recorded version, because editing your video can take out any glaring errors or awkward moments like inordinate periods of silence.
Our Approach to Google+ Hangouts
We knew we had unparalleled knowledge in security and surveillance solutions, so we then chose an interesting webinar topic that would incorporate our expertise, but also reach a broader audience. To execute our chosen webinar topic, we worked with a PR firm (or if your company doesn’t need or want one, reach out to all your contacts), and then we proceeded to recruit three preeminent authorities on workplace safety (two veteran HR professionals) and violence prevention (a forensic psychologist) to participate in the webinar, along with the president of our company who added in his own expertise on security camera placement and technology for workplaces. Once we had our panelists locked down, we tested out Google+ Hangouts a few times, and did two run-throughs with the other panelists to ensure that we were all ready for the impending live broadcast. To get a feel for how a webinar is done via Google+ Hangouts, check out VideoSurveillance.com’s Workplace Violence Prevention: Prevention Training & Tips Webinar.
Promote, Promote, Promote
Don’t forget to promote the heck out of your Google+ Hangout event. Send out at most 1-3 email blasts to your customers a week or two prior; “Facebrag” the upcoming webinar; mention it in a Google+ post; contact relevant blogs related to the topic at hand; and write an article or blog about it on your website. Our goal was to garner interest from a multitude of individuals from different market pools who would think to themselves, “Hey I own a business, and I bet I could learn a thing or two from watching this,” or from the consumer’s prospective, “I’m an employee and I’ve had some sticky situations arise in my workplace that I would like help and advice on.” We covered all topics, in order to broaden our base of viewers. Just remember that any webinar or promotional video you record through Google+ Hangouts has the power to influence numerous market groups.
A Few Tips That May Come in Handy (Trust Me)
For webinars, try to be as professional and prepared as possible, and by that I mean no eating lasagna at your desk with your laptop while speaking into the webcam for everyone to see. Don’t sit in front of cluttered, tacky backgrounds like cat trees or your microwave. Plain, or white backgrounds work best. In other scenarios such as contests or how-to-videos, you can be less formal. It’s speaking with other professionals that may affect how your audience sees you. No one wants to see a biochemist – for instance – answering his cell phone during a webinar. That’s just…wrong.
Well, I think I’ve said enough and I’ll end it with the following: We’re on a constant hunt for new content strategies that will further strengthen your employer’s online reputation. It’s up to us to make that happen. My sincere hope is that this Google+ Hangouts content technique will be utilized by several of you out there reading this. And hey, it’s quite fun to make a video, if I do say so myself.
Author Bio: Ellen Arndt has proven herself to be an assiduous and exuberant content and communications manager for VideoSurveillance.com, a leading provider of online security products. Her specialties include building content plans; executing new content; cultivating relationships with industry experts; and developing unique programs that create positive indelible marks on consumers.