In case you missed it yesterday, Google+ launched their first official pages. Pages are extremely similar to profiles, but are for businesses and have some key differences from personal profiles:
- Pages cant add people to circles until the page is added first or mentioned. Learn more.
- Pages can be made for a variety of different entities whereas profiles can only be made for people.
- The default privacy setting for elements on your page profile is public.
- Pages have the +1 button.
- Pages cant +1 other pages, nor can they +1 stuff on the Web.Pages cant play games.
- Pages dont have the option to share to Extended circles.
- Pages dont receive notifications via email, text, or in the Google bar.
- Pages cant hangout on a mobile device.
- Local pages have special fields that help people find the business physical location.
I was fortunate to be part of a great team that had been working for many months behind the scenes to prepare the +Dell page for launch day. One of the things weve been planning related to the page launch is more hangouts.
Several Dell employees, and our iconic leader Michael Dell, have already been holding Google+ hangouts for a while now, but we thought a few timed to the new page launch would be a good way to showcase what makes G+ different from our pages and accounts on other social networks. We werent the only ones thinking that.
Its time to put on makeup. Its time to dress up right
Another thing that would probably be hard for you to miss lately is the fact that those timeless Muppets have a new movie coming out. They were also quick to leverage G+ pages to help promote that movie and soon after launch announced that they would be doing a hangout.
So, with three nine-year-old girls excitedly watching over my shoulder (this is soooo exciting! oh, I need to fix my hair! I LOVE the Muppets!), I eagerly logged into Google+ at the appointed hour. I knew there were limits to how many people can get into a hangout, so I warned them we might not get in, but got rather excited myself when it looked like we might.
I soon realized that what we were viewing, however, was not an actual hangout, but rather a video stream of a hangout just between the Muppets and their real-life co-stars not a hangout with the general public as I and the more than 16,000 other people who at that time had circled the Muppets page expected.
It didnt take long for others to begin to realize this, too, and a flurry of negative comments began:
Some visitors, obviously new to G+, thought the video feed was cool because it was supposedly live, but those familiar with G+ knew it wasnt a real hangout there was no join the hangout button on the Muppet page.
So, we walked away and enjoyed our dinner. If it was just video, we could watch at our convenience.
But, about 30 minutes later I returned out of curiosity and found that they had switched to a real hangout. Of course, it immediately filled with the maximum of 10 people. I still kept hitting the try again button just in case I got lucky, but apparently only one person ever left the hangout, so only a total of 11 people actually got to hang with the Muppets. At least two, possibly three, of them apparently work at Google — a fact that was quickly noticed and drew comments.
Tips for a more celebrational, Muppetational hangout
So, what are the lessons learned here for other brands and businesses that want leverage hangouts?
Dont promise more than you can to deliver. If it had been clearly stated to be a viewing of the cast hanging out with each other, the confusion of visitors wondering how to join, and their subsequent disappointment when they realized they couldnt, would have been avoided.
Dont expect everyone to know how a hangout works. Google+ is still relatively new, and even those who created accounts before now have probably not leveraged all the functionality. When the real hangout did start, many commented on the frustration of having to download a plugin. Let everyone know theyll need to prep download plugin, check microphone, etc.
Explain how streaming can help others join the fun. Until the limits are raised on how many people can join a hangout, video streaming is a beneficial way to allow more people to see whats happening. Position this as an alternative, though, rather than using it as the primary means of communicating. Engaging with others is the primary goal not pushing out content.
Dont fill all your available spaces with your own people. Maybe the Googlers in the Muppet hangout had the same opportunity the general public had to join. Or, maybe they were providing assistance because the Muppet team wasnt well-versed on how to conduct the hangout. Either way, it left a bad impression and is a warning that with such a small limit on how many can join a hangout, you dont want to fill it up with your own employees and create an image that youre only talking to yourself.
The main thing is lots of up-front communication to your audience. The more they know about what will be happening and how best to participate, the smoother everything will go. And, be sure you’re interacting directly with people to avoid the impression one fan expressed by describing the Muppet hangout as “a media/pr blitz with little consideration for the fans.”
Im sure there are others out there with more experience than I have with hangouts, though, so any and all other tips you have for a celebrational hangout are welcome! | Lessons Learned from a Muppet Hangout