How To: Manage Hangouts On Air with Google+

I've been diving into Google+ a little bit more lately, and this is stemming from some of the experimenting I did yesterday, when I posted how to record a Google+ Hangout with higher quality audio for podcasting or other interview-type things (great language, I know).

That led to a discussion last night with Lisa Nielson, who was trying to schedule a Hangout On Air for a discussion happening the following night. So, I did some research, and we messed around with Google Hangouts for a few minutes and found a solution. I decided to post everything I found on managing that Hangout here. So, I submit to you: how to manage Google Hangouts On Air so people can actually find the broadcast when it begins. I'm going to outline three possible solutions, and you can take your pick.

Please note that while I tested these sitting at my desk, they have not been tested in the wild, and you should do some testing before your event to make sure you've got everything ready to go.

The Dedicated Page The easiest way to help people find your broadcast is to create a page on your blog where you embed the video stream. When you are prepping the broadcast, there is an embed code in the window. You can grab this code and update the link on your blog before you actually click "Start broadcast." It will display a "Broadcast starting soon" placeholder until you actually begin the hangout. It's a lightweight option, and you'll need to remember to update the link, but it'll be easy for your audience to find each time you run a show.

Click for larger image.

You can grab the embed code at the top before you click "Start Broadcast." Click for a larger image.

YouTube Live URL YouTube and Google are peas in a pod, with a lot bleeding over into the other. Hangouts are the same. When you run an On Air Hangout, YouTube will automatically record and archive the video in your channel so people can go back and check it out if they miss the live broadcast. But, there are a couple things you need to do first in order to get that to work. Rather than reposting it, here is a Google+ thread with all of the setup that needs to happen in order to get Hangouts On Air to work properly. It isn't as much as it sounds like, but it's a good idea to check to make sure you're not stung at the end.

Okay, back to how YouTube makes this easy. Once your account is verified and your channel linked to your Google+ profile, you can grab a super-awesome new URL that will always be the live stream in the future. I learned this from ReelSEO's channel, and you can take a look at the video if you want to see the whole process. In short, share the following URL with your audience for any On Air broadcast:

http://www.youtube.com/user/USERNAME/live

Obviously, replace the USERNAME with your username. So, mine would be http://www.youtube.com/bennettscience/live for any On Air broadcast. When you're not live, viewers will be redirected to your YouTube channel.

Why should you do this rather than embedding a link on your blog? One word: Backchannel. YouTube's interface includes a comment box to one side where your audience can discuss the broadcast. Engagement is always a good thing.

On the YouTube channel, your viewers can discuss what's happening right on the stream page.

On the YouTube channel, your viewers can discuss what's happening right on the stream page.

The Event The third, and most circuitous (but most robust) way to plan a Hangout in advance is to use a Google Event. This is the method I'm least familiar with, and honestly the workflow is a pain right now (even Google admits it), but it is powerful if you can get a system worked out. I think this would work well in conjunction with either the YouTube URL or the blog post embed.

So, if its confusing, why use Events? A couple reasons. Events link to your Calendar, so management becomes very easy. They're also listed on your Google+ page. So, if you have subscribers connected there, they'll see it in their stream. They can also RSVP right through the Google+ stream, so you can begin engaging before the show. It will also send a calendar reminder to people who have RSVP'd, so you'll have a higher attendance rate (in theory.) All of that is great, but it's the actual implementation of the show that could use some improvement.

I pulled the tips from this Google community thread, and I suggest taking a look at it. In short, here's what you would do:

  1. Make a new regular event. You have to make it regular in order for it to work properly. If you create an "On Air" event, it just means it shows up in your public stream. You can still make the regular event public, you just need to share it with that group in the creation page. This is how you'll get RSVP's for the broadcast. In the description, you can also add a reminder to check back for the URL once you're live.
  2. Before the scheduled event, create a new Hangout On Air like you normally would, and share it with those participating. This is where using the YouTube link would really be helpful, as you only need to invite those people in the hangout with you, not those watching.
  3. Copy and paste the Hangout URL into the Event details (see screenshots). This can be either the Hangout itself if you want people to join, or it can be the YouTube live user link from above to direct people to the broadcast.
  4. In your Google+ Events, click on carrot in the top-right corner of the Details card.

    In your Google+ Events, click on carrot in the top-right corner of the Details card.

    Click on Advanced, and then Show More Options. You can then add a URL to your in the website URL field. If you try to add the link in the YouTube URL field, it'll return an error. Thanks to Elayne Whitfield for pointing this problem out in the comments. So, I like Events, but the workflow to actually begin the Hangout from the Event isn't there. Again, the Events workflow is documented well in the community thread, so take a look there for more discussion.

15 thoughts on “How To: Manage Hangouts On Air with Google+

  1. agony86 says:

    how many people can google hangout have on an event?

    • Brian Bennett says:

      On a normal hangout, you can have 10 active people (including yourself) at one time. The On Air audience is not limited because they are simply watching.

    • You can have 10 participate live with you in the discussion. The number watching on YouTube and Google+ is unlimited (as far as I know).

  2. paintingd4 says:

    I’ve read some other forums and blogs about Hangout and Hangout On Air, and some said that it’s only limited to 10 Participants, and 15 if paid..If ever i pay on the paid version of it, what other benefits can i get aside from the additional participants?

  3. Sherrie Lee says:

    Thanks for a great post on Hangouts on Air. I’ve seen it once in action by a fellow teacher giving a lecture and I’m very interested to use it for my teaching. Looking forward to better integration between Events and Hangouts on Air.

    • I’ve actually moved away from using Events as they gave me some unexpected and unpredictable problems. Now, I use a calendar event and invite the people I’m planning on speaking with, and then make it On Air from there. Saves me some trouble. I might go back and visit Events again now that it’s been a couple months since I last tried.

  4. Elayne Whitfield says:

    When I put the Youtube link it, it tells me to enter a valid Youtube URL

    • Do you mean the direct link to the “live” page? Would you mind posting the link you tried? I just tested it, and it worked fine for me.

      • Elayne Whitfield says:

        Yes, the link works. But when I put that link into the Google Event Youtube link field, I get the error.

        *Elayne Whitfield-Parr*

        Infusionsoft Certified Sales & Marketing Expert
        *705-730-0436 or 866-249-5439*

        Click here to book a call or meeting with me

        • Ok, I got it figured out. It took me a while to get the problem reproduced. Since posting, they’ve disallowed posting YouTube profiles in the “YouTube URL” section. You can post it in the “Website URL” field, no problem.

          The YouTube field worked when I pasted a video link in there, so I’m not sure why they’re differentiating between the two. I’ve updated the post to reflect that change. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

          • Elayne Whitfield says:

            What I ended up doing is creating the Event in Youtube first and then put that video event link into the Google Event. I just hope that it works. LOL. Thanks for getting back to me.

            *Elayne Whitfield-Parr*

            Infusionsoft Certified Sales & Marketing Expert
            *705-730-0436 or 866-249-5439*

            Click here to book a call or meeting with me

  5. […] A truly educational tutorial on how to put together a truly intricate Google hangout.  Read more here:  link […]

  6. Lara Berg Brightsidelife says:

    Really helpful! Thanks so much, Brian! :)

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