Imagine this: You’re hosting a well-attended discussion about your latest book. One audience member asks about the inspiration for your main character, while another wonders if you’re planning a sequel. Now, imagine that the first questioner is in San Francisco, and the other, London, England. You’re talking to both—and seeing them—now. Welcome to Google Hangouts.
What is Google Hangouts?
Google Hangouts is an instant messaging and video chat platform that can revolutionize how you interact with your readers and fans. You can access Hangouts using your computer or with Android and Apple devices (tablets, cell phones, etc.). While you can use Google Hangouts to make conference phone calls, the real benefit is its video feature.
With your phone’s camera or computer’s webcam, Google Hangouts lets you have a private group video conversation with up to ten people; or with Hangouts On Air, you can broadcast publicly.
How Can Google Hangouts Benefit Writers?
As a support system: Designed to be extremely user-friendly, Google Hangouts is a great way to interact with a virtual critique or writing group. You’re no longer limited by location: Members can be spread across the country…or even the world.
As a promotional tool: Google Hangouts On Air makes it easy for you to interact in real time with your audience and host public virtual events:
- Book releases
- Public readings
- Guest interviews
- Discussion panels
- Virtual book tours
You can schedule live broadcasts to appear on Google+ and YouTube, as well as announce the events on your author website. During your broadcast, viewers can type comments or questions on Google+ or on your YouTube events page. Hangouts On Air will automatically record your live stream and save it to your YouTube channel.
By offering both live broadcasting and the ability to save and post events, Google Hangouts On Air lets writers expand their reach and quickly build their fan base and audience.
Who Can Use Google Hangouts?
Google Hangouts is free if you have a Google+ account. You also need a Gmail account and a YouTube account. NOTE: You should have your Google+ and YouTube account linked to the same Gmail account.
You can also use Hangouts without having a Google+ account as long as you have a Google Apps customer account, but there is a charge for this service.
Are There Any Safety Measures In Place?
During your Hangout session, you can “ignore” or “block permanently” any Internet trolls. You can limit your audience to viewers over the age of eighteen if you’re concerned about appropriate content. If you encounter harassment or hate speech, you can report abuse. And you should always exit a conversation if you feel uncomfortable.
Additionally, your personal information is encrypted to keep it secure.
Writers: Ready For Your Close-up?
A few tips to consider before you host your first live Hangout event:
- Practice a few times with friends and family first!
- Test all your equipment and work out all the kinks.
- Make sure your face can be seen clearly; have good lighting and good sound quality.
Want To Check Out Google Hangouts For Writers And Readers?
Here are just a few of the author-centric Google Hangouts that have featured video broadcasts:
QUESTION: Would you be comfortable video chatting with your readers and fans?
Photo by Trey Ratcliff