I recently attended a Google event aimed at informing agencies about some of the features available on Google+, for us digital folk. While I was familiar with much of the information, Google did open my mind to some possibilities in what has to be one of Google+’s coolest features: Google +Hangouts and live ‘Hangouts on Air’. For the uninitiated, a Google + Hangout can be compared to a Gmail video chat on steroids. In fact, since Monday the 1st of August, Google have begun upgrading Gmail video chat to the Google + Hangouts platform.
Hanging Out With The Stars
One of the most intergalactic uses (literally) to date has been the gathering of astronomers and stargazers. They’ve managed to attach webcams to telescopes and share real-time celestial sightings and events. One of the groups pioneering this is the Virtual Star Party.
A nice feature of ‘Hangouts on Air’ is that if you miss a once in a life time hangout like, oh, say the rare occurrence of Venus passing between the Sun and the Earth, you can watch a recording of the hangout on YouTube.
‘Hangouts on Air’ are automatically recorded and uploaded to the users YouTube channel.
Hanging Out With Your Stars
Musicians have also begun using ‘Hangouts on Air’, and are sharing their live performances with fans (the trick is to get the sound quality right, though).
For example, the band, Suite 709, recently hosted their first live Google + Hangout performance. With some assistance from Google, the band did this all from a home studio, and between tracks, their fans got the chance to ask questions and interact with them. This makes it possible for bands to give fans a unique, personal experience, and creates yet another platform to help independent musicians go global. Awesome!
I really think there are some great opportunities and executions just waiting to be implemented with ‘Hangouts on Air’, in the marketing space. But one of the issues for agencies operating in Africa is the lack of information from Google about the active user base on Google + in African countries. It’s important to determine whether it’s viable and who, exactly, is using the platform.
For users, however, there are loads of cool experiences – both entertaining and educational - already happening.
Feel free to share any ‘Hangouts on Air’ that made you feel warm inside, or any innovative ideas you might have for using this great Google+ feature.