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The Rise Of Google Hangouts As A Way To Connect With Fans

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It's amazing what new technology does.  One of the coolest features of the Google+ social network is the "Google Hangout" feature, which makes for a very easy video conference setup that can handle up to 10 users.  While online video conferencing isn't that new, what is a little different about the way Google Hangout works, is that it's much more informal.  It really matches the "hangout' moniker.  Other services, like Skype, require a direct "call" that someone picks up on.  But with Hangout, you just start it up, and figure out how open you want to make it/who you want to include, and it just shows up on their Google+ pages, and they can stop by whenever, so long as it's open.

But what's interesting is watching how content creators are starting to use this as a way to Connect with Fans.  I'd seen a few people do some open hangouts -- and I even did a couple myself, and got to meet some great/interesting Techdirt fans.

But actress Felicia Day took things to another level with her Google Hangout Housecalls.

She asked people to post their hangouts to her, and she spent an afternoon dropping in on various hangouts and saying hello.

And, not surprisingly, other stars are picking up on the idea.  Perry Farrell from Jane's Addiction is doing the same thing, though he calls it "crashing" other people's hangouts.

I really like this idea as an easy and quick way to connect with fans from around the globe, without having to actually travel to all of those places.  I do have a few questions though:

  1. Do others agree this is a cool idea?
  2. Are their potential risks/downsides?  (i.e., what if someone isn't chosen, do they feel slighted?)
  3. Are there any ideas to improve on this and go even further?


initiated Oct 20, 2011 in Connecting with Fans by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160

2 Responses

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I'm really glad you posted this. I had kind of given up on google plus.

1) Yes, it's a cool idea and I'm going to give it a go over the next few days.

2) Not really. It depends on how you organise it I suppose. I'll provide more feedback once I've used it a few times.

3) Same as above. I need to test it first but here are the things I've been thinking about since I read your post.

a) Tutorials.

Some of fans were asking about guitar tabs. Instead of making boring tabs, I decided to do video tutorials instead. I think those fans who are interested in learning how to play the songs would love to be able to hangout for an hour and learn one of the songs. So that's one of the things I want to test.

b) Rehearsals

We rehearse in our drummer's apartment half of the time, and in a rehearsal studio the rest of the time. The rehearsal studio is expensive but it allows us to play in conditions similar to that of a real gig.The drummer's apartment is cheap but we can't play too loud, but it's great for working on new songs.

I think that allowing people to come along and watch the rehearsal, and see us working on new songs could be really cool. I know I would be interested in watching some of favorite bands do that.

c) Initimate gigs.

Our graphic designer/illustrator (who plays live with us) had moved to a different city, but since he doesn't play an instrument, we can rehearse via the internet. What I'm hoping is that there is a way to stream the video output of his computer rather that the webcam. If that doesn't work, we can always try using a second site, so people just open up a second web browser.

I'll let you know how it all goes!


response added Oct 20, 2011 by Andy Richards (1,100 points)   4 8 14
@uniformmotion Very cool.  Can't wait to hear how it goes with you and what you learn.
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We did a hangout on google+ the other day. I wrote about it on our blog but I'll copy the contents here.

We set it up in the following way.


Renaud (our illustrator) shared his screen (where he was sketching on photoshop) in one window.

Olivier (drums, keyboards) and I (guitar, vocals) shared our webcam and audio. We used two static microphones and a mixing desk in order to improve the sound quality and just used the built-in webcam on Olivier’s Mac. 


We muted the sound output when we played to avoid feedback. Most people figured out fairly quickly that they could mute their own microphones but we could still see everyone on the screen. Silent clapping is kind of cute!

We made the hangout public so anyone could join in but you can do it by invite only. 

Each participant can choose which screen they want to display as the main screen so you can switch between the drawings and the musicians, and the other viewers.

People can use the chat window to interact with us while we play. 

At the end of the gig, we stayed and chatted with everyone for a while to ask them what they thought of the platform and the mini-concert concept. 

Someone made a video of one of the songs which will give you an idea of what the experience is like from a viewer’s perspective. The sound and video quality aren’t great. We’ll try and do a screen capture and record the audio straight out of the mixing desk next time!

response added Nov 4, 2011 by Andy Richards (1,100 points)   4 8 14
@uniformmotion awesome.  thanks for sharing this.  it'll be fascinating to see how this evolves (and how the tool evolves as well).  I need to start doing more Google Hangouts myself

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