Help Desk Hangouts: Connect with customers using Hangouts On Air

Friday, May 11, 2012 | 2:09 PM

Editor’s note: Each week on the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.

In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, the lovely Amanda Rosenberg showed us how to use a Hangout On Air - the ability to broadcast a Hangout to the world - and heard some tips and tricks from two power users, pio dal cin and Dan McDermott. Missed it? You can watch the full hour-long Hangout on the Google Business YouTube channel (check out the video description for a minute-by-minute breakdown):



Here are a few of the questions you asked us to answer during the Hangout:

What kind of technical setup should I have for something like this?
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy equipment, but many users have found having a dedicated microphone and webcam, plus an ethernet connection, make for a much smoother experience. Dan and Pio make some specific hardware recommendations during the Hangout.

What should I talk about in my Hangout?
Get creative! Make an announcement to your customers, or demo a new product. Invite a panel of experts in your field on to discuss topics, and take questions from users via your Google+ page. Own a bakery? Show viewers how to make a certain recipe. Book store? Host a live author reading. There’s really no end to the possibilities. We see users come up with new uses every day — kick around your ideas with other Google+ users to hone in on something you’d like to try.

Who can join the Hangout, and who can watch it? Can I broadcast to a select group?
When you hit broadcast, Hangouts On Air are public for the world to watch live. A member of that “public,” however, can not join the Hangout; they can only watch it. To get people in the Hangout, you as the Hangout owner need to invite them.

Where does the recording of the Hangout live?
The recording will be uploaded to your YouTube account (if you’re hosting the Hangout from a Google+ page, the video will live in the account of whoever’s admin’ing the page at the time of the Hangout). After the Hangout, visit your YouTube Video Manager to see your video and make edits if you need to. Note: This video will upload to your account as a Public video; you can change the video at any time to “private” or “unlisted” via the Video Manager.

Why do I need to verify my YouTube account?
In order to record YouTube videos longer than 15 minutes, you’ll need to verify your account.

Anything else I should keep in mind?
Posting a recording of a particularly long Hangout? List a minute-by-minute breakdown (timestamps like 1:36, 5:47) in the video’s description so that users can jump to different parts of the video (like this). Also, practice makes perfect: None of us gets it 100% right the first time, but in no time at all, you’ll soon be a Hangouts pro.

Who has access to Hangouts On Air?
We’re rolling this functionality out gradually over the next several weeks. Keep your eyes peeled!

To learn more about how to get started with Hangouts On Air, check out this detailed technical guide, and if you still have questions, drop in to the Google+ discussion forum. And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout at 11 a.m. PT Wednesday May 16 when we dive deeper into the world of Chromebooks (read up on our first Chromebooks Hangout).

Posted by Toby Stein, Google+ Community Manager