Perfectionist's Guide to Marketing Your Hangout on Air

This is an advanced guide, and assumes you're comfortable with Hangouts on Air. If you want a general guide to HoA, follow this link

Tips and Tricks for Hangouts on Air

You're running a Hangout on Air because you want to broadcast to a live audience. Ideally, you want the largest possible audience you can get. During our coverage of the Curiosity Landing, we had approximately 30,000 people watching our hangout. More = better. :-)

Properly marketing your Hangout requires an extreme attention to detail, to get the widest possible boost when you're live. You'll have to do a zillion different things, but follow these steps and you should get a much larger audience.

So here's my handy guide to help you out, and get the widest audience you can.

But first...

Choose the MOST Important Event You Can

What you're hanging out about will define the total audience you can reach. If you're hanging out about something interesting and dynamic - like the launch of a new iPhone or the landing of a rover on Mars, you'll be able to get a much larger audience than an impromptu hangout without a topic. This acts like a multiplier.

Choose your events carefully, and respect your audience's "hangout fatigue".

The Event is Your Anchor

As soon as you know when you're going to be broadcasting your Hangout on Air, you need to create a Google+ Event.

The event acts like an anchor to your Hangout. Fans can put the Event into their Google calendar, so they'll get an alert when you're about to start broadcasting. You can also embed the live video back into the Event page so people can watch it from this page too.

You'll want to create a Hangout on Air by going to:

Event Options -> Advanced -> Make this an event on air

Take the time and care to make the most interesting Event page you possibly can. 

A good event page should contain the following:

- a custom theme graphic that gives you a recognizable brand. People should be able to spot your event from a big list

- embed the video for previous events into the current Event so people can get an example of what it's about. You access that from Event Options -> Advanced -> Show Additional Fields

- a nagging reminder that people should click "Yes" to attend the Event. That will put it into their calendar.

Invite the public, and invite the attendees of the event itself.

Now, Market the Event which Markets the Hangout

Since the Event page acts like an anchor to the future Hangout, you have a permanent location you can use to market the Hangout. Point people at the Event page, and that'll encourage them to sign up and get it into their calendar.

Things you can do ahead of time.

Once you've got that Event in place, you can start promoting your future Hangout. Here's a laundry list of ideas, places you can promote your future Hangout:

- write a press release
- write an article on your blog, convince your blogging friends to promote it
- post a writeup on Google+
- mention the Hangout on Twitter, multiple times leading up to the Event
- create a promo video on YouTube and encourage people to embed the video
- use the Hype My Hangout service
- mention it in any podcasts you're associated with
- create a parallel Event on Facebook and then link to the official Google+ Event (specifically invite people who you think would love to attend).

… and lots of things I haven't even thought of. You'll come up with lots of ideas, but the point is to direct them at the Event.

Invite people to your Event

Google+ allows you to invite an unlimited number of people to an event, and this will probably be your secret weapon; the difference between a mediocre event and a blockbuster.

You'll want to invite your friends and super fans of the show.

But, here's your secret weapon

Ideally you've created a Brand Page specifically for your show. All of the people who have this show in their circles are obviously fans of the show and should be invited.

For example, here's a link to the Virtual Star Party brand page:

At the time of this writing, 3400 people have the VSP page in their circle. This means that I can invite 3400 people to future editions of the Virtual Star Party broadcasts. As you can probably imagine, this is a massive multiplier to the attendance of the event.

I create a special circle called "VSP fans" and circle everyone back who circles the Brand Page.

You're limited to a total of 5000 people who you can circle from a Brand Page.

Navigate to the Event, and then invite everyone in your circle.

If you have multiple Brand pages related to your Hangout, you can invite from each one of those Brand Pages. Powerful but dangerous, use caution.

Once you're about to start your hangout

Assuming you've been marketing like crazy, there's a key checklist of activities you need to do to once you create the Hangout, but before you start broadcasting.

- Start up your Hangout on Air and invite your participants
- Grab the YouTube embed code from the menu bar and embed this back into the Event. Nobody will be able to see the participants until you actually click "Start Broadcasting".
- Embed the YouTube video into every location you want. From your blog, Facebook, etc.
- Run Hangout Comment Tracker in a standalone tab and put in the links to the Event, YouTube page and a Twitter hashtag you want to use. -
- Get all the participants to run Hangout Lower Third to identify themselves


Start the broadcast

Once you start your broadcast, you'll get access to the Google+ link containing the live video. You can either promote this page, or continue promoting the Event page, since the live video will be embedded into both.

- Start the broadcast. Put up a starting screen for the first 5 minutes to give you a few minutes to get organized - you've got a LOT of work to do still
- Add the Google+ Hangout page to the Hangout Comment Tracker
- Now you'll have a link to the actual Google+ page containing the Hangout. Get all the participants to reshare the Hangout from their pages.
- Promote the live Hangout on Facebook, Twitter, etc. "We've started our broadcast, join us live."
- Within the first minute, encourage all your viewers to reshare the Hangout page to get the biggest possible exposure. If you're lucky, you'll go to the What's Hot page and get even more publicity

During your show

During your show, you should do regular station identification. Encourage viewers to circle the participants, and especially your brand page on Google+. This will let you invite them in the future.

If you have a few spare moments, you can remind people on Twitter, etc that you're currently broadcasting a cool live event.

After your show

Once you've completed your live show, you'll still want to get as many people to watch the final video on YouTube. This will help build interest for the next episode.

- create your next Event as quickly as possible, to start the whole process again
- embed a link in the comments of the previous Event to the next Event. Everyone who commented on the previous event will get a notification and ideally put the next event in their calendar
- promote the final YouTube event in all your regular places, to the biggest viewership after the fact.
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