With so many live broadcast platforms available online, it’s difficult to know which ones are the best. Trying them all can be time consuming and expensive. Provided here is a Review of Business Hangouts including the features available before, during and following a broadcast.
Quite likely you have some idea of what your specific needs are, having just conducted a Needs Analysis that specifies what you need. (See here for an article on conducting your Needs Analysis)
Your Needs Analysis has three sections:
- Needs before the broadcast
- Needs during the broadcast
- Needs following the broadcast.
No doubt there are a few general needs that are important to you as well:
- Ease of set up for the presenter
- Easy accessibility for the novice participant.
In this review, I will provide details from each of these perspectives so that you can quickly decide whether this platform is the right for your business.
A Google Hangouts allow up to 10 people to communicate face to face online.
Business Hangouts uses the basic structure of Google Hangout and Hangouts ON Air but provides additional features intended to enhance the business experience. (Note: Business Hangouts no longer uses Google Hangouts On Air as their platform. They are now using WebRTC – June 18, 2018 update) Business Hangouts are automatically recorded and uploaded to YouTube.
You can hear me introduce and describe Business Hangouts in this portion of one of my weekly shows:
Features for Before the Broadcast
- A registration system that allows viewers to register prior to the session.
- Marketing to four social media platforms right from the planner page.
- E-mail invitations from the planner page
- An event planner with an automatic confirmation message to viewers that offers an addition to Google Calendar.
- Universal sign in. Your customers can sign in from their preferred social media platform. (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and e-mail)
- Participants in the green room (film strip) can be given reserved seats before the session.
- Link to Pay Pal for paid sessions
- An option to Host the session on your own website, so that viewers come to one place to join.
- Branding is customizable to reflect your own company visuals.
- Public/private control
- Moderators may be assigned to assist with comments and questions.
- Option to use a fixed URL for permanent virtual meetings
Features for During the Broadcast
- Can be viewed from desktop, laptop, tablet or phone.
- A Unified Chat that is visible and accessible to viewers during and after the broadcast. The chat screen is located right beside the main screen to avoid the need to scroll down to engage.
- Unified Chat gets recorded with the broadcast so that viewers accessing the broadcast after the event can add comments or questions. The Host receives e-mail notification of new comments.
- Full-screen capability that allows for showing videos, slide shows and screen shares.
- Viewers can be brought into the green room as a participant on the spot (provided they have registered from their Google account.)
- Dashboard controls are all on one page
Features for Following the Broadcast
- Access to the recording for viewers who were unavailable at the time of broadcast;
- Unified Chat gets recorded with the broadcast so that viewers accessing the broadcast after the event can add comments or questions. The Host receives e-mail notification of new comments
- A contact list of all viewers and participants that can be uploaded to your favourite e-mail responders such as Mail Chimp or AWeber.
- Automatically follow up e-mails
- Comprehensive analytics
As a business coach who needs a face to face experience with clients and who conducts regular success circle meetings for solopreneurs, I was seeking a platform that offers a variety of options. My own experience in locating a platform for my business began with an introduction to Google Hangouts and Hangouts On Air. Marketing to the Google Plus community was handled through the use of the Event Page. Marketing to other social media platforms was difficult.
Google made a number of changes because they became aware that the general public was resistant to needing to create a Profile in order to use all their products and they were moving toward the mobile world. These changes made marketing even more difficult. It became clear that I needed a way to access viewers from all the other social media platforms as well. I wanted to be able to bring viewers to my website to participate. And my future plans include the development of online courses that would generate income, so it was important to have the financial aspect included.
I tested the process for a while to see how my viewers and participants responded before I signed up for the Premium version.
Who Else Would Find Business Hangouts beneficial?
- Companies that do regular staff or customer meetings. Business Hangouts is closely connected to the G Suite program for companies who want all their employees connected.
- Consultants and Coaches who present paid online workshops and training;
- Consultants and Coaches who do group masterminds;
- Non-profits that want to keep their donors up to date;
- Bloggers who are moving into the video world;
- Networking groups whose participants are time/distance constrained;
- Professional groups who want to keep their members connected and current;
- Professionals who do one-on-one sessions that need to be private and recorded
- Event organizers putting a conference together.
Supports Available to Users
Business Hangouts provides a series of instructional videos showing how to plan and set up sessions that are clear and easy to follow. As well, they host a free weekly Question and Answer session for those who are confused or want to learn more. In addition, they host a Google Community where people get questions answered by text.
Business Hangout offers a variety of price points designed to meet everyone’s needs:
- Free version – allows for up to 10 attendees (Update July 1, 2016 – Free version no longer available)
- Lite Version – $23/month for up to 25 attendees (Price Updates June 18, 2018)
- Pro Version – $63/ month for up to 100 attendees
- Business Version – $119/month for up to 250 attendees
- Custom Package for more than 250 attendees
There is a 14 day free trial for Lite, Pro and Business. Each version offers more planning and branding options than the one above it. Users are free to switch version when their needs change.
Pros and Cons
Pro #1 – Customizable branding that needs only one setup;
Pro#2 – Engagement by audio, visual and text all in one view;
Pro#3 – Allows for variety in Marketing and access;
Pro#4 – Business threshold that sets up online payment.
Con#1 – It takes a bit of experimentation to get the hang of session set up and hosting;
Con#2 – Viewers and participants that were accustomed to Google Hangouts On Air need instruction for joining because they are unused to the registration process.
How to Access Business Hangouts
Visit the Business Hangout site HERE and have a look around. Give the Trial Version a try so that you get a feel for the process before signing up for a Premium Version suitable for your needs. Update July 1, 2016: The free version is no longer available except as a Trial.