You put a lot of work into your programs, right? Well, that’s what we’re assuming anyway. 😉
With all that it takes to generate great programming, we think everyone should be able to see what you’re up to. In fact, we think you’re ready for primetime. So, have you ever considered broadcasting story time or any of your other library programs?
It’s actually pretty easy. All you really need is a device with a camera—like a laptop, iPad, Android phone, iPhone, etc.—and access to Google Hangouts On Air.
We’re going to give you five reasons why you should be using Google Hangouts On Air for your library programs (other than the fact that it’s FREE!)
But first…what is Google Hangouts On Air?
This is the definition, straight from its creators:
With Hangouts on Air, you can broadcast live discussions and performances to the world through your Google+ Home page and YouTube channel. You can also edit and share a copy of the boadcast.
If you prefer video instead, we’ve got you covered.
Now, here are the reasons Google Hangouts On Air is perfect for broadcasting your programs.
Reason #1 – Anyone can view your broadcast.
Hangouts On Air allows you to send a link to your broadcast in a few different ways. If you have an active Google+ account with followers in different types of circles, you can send an invite to specific circles, rather than sending the broadcast to everyone who follows you on Google+. For example, if you have circles based on age group, like teens, you can send the invite to just that group.
You can invite people directly from the Hangout itself, using their email address. This is a great option if you want to chat and interact with the patrons watching at home, which we’ll talk about in reason #4. However, if the patron doesn’t have a Google account, sending them a link directly to the Hangout is useless, because they’ll either have to sign up for one or they’ll just find something else to do altogether.
But there’s a third option: you can send patrons directly to a streaming YouTube video of your broadcast. The cool thing about the streaming YouTube video is that it’s like a DVR. (And who doesn’t love a DVR?) It enables the viewer to go back to the beginning of the broadcast, if they want to start from the beginning.
So, like I said, anyone can view your broadcast.
Reason #2 – You can embed your live stream on your website.
This is probably the biggest reason why you should at least consider using Google Hangouts On Air. Hangouts allows you to take an embed of the LIVE streaming video and put it on your website—this feature alone gives you so much flexibility it hurts.
Let’s run through a few scenarios on how this could work:
- Let’s say you have the live streaming video and, next to the video, you have a little banner (made in Canva) that advertises your next story time event. Maybe under that you have a library catalog link to the book you will be reading. Cool, right? Or maybe you’re doing something other than story time. Maybe you have a PDF that the audience can download and follow along with, as you go through your program.
- Or, how about this? Again, you have streaming video and next to it is a different Canva banner advertising Library Card Sign-up Month. The streaming video could act as a testimonial to how cool it is to be at your events in person and could help entice the audience to sign up for a library card right there on the spot.
- Or you could have a book you’re talking about for book club or story time next to the YouTube embed—and handpicked, related books from your catalog right under the embed itself.
The possibilities are nearly endless, with the ability to embed a LIVE, streaming program on your own website.
Take some time to figure out what you think would benefit your audience the most, and test it out. Use a program like bit.ly to track the links to the images to see if your patrons are clicking on them. If scenario one, doesn’t perform as well, change the layout and add something else. The beauty of the Internet is the ability to test, test, and re-test, until you find the right formula for your purposes.
Honestly, you could stop reading and give Hangouts On Air a shot right now!
But, if you need some more convincing, I’ve got a few more things that could put you over the edge.
Reason #3 – Automatic uploading.
When you’re done with the Hangout and you sign off, YouTube goes to work on the video behind the scenes. Depending on the length of your video, YouTube will have a version of your Hangout available in your channel ready for other patrons to view it.
This allows you to not only share your Hangouts or embed them on your own website, but you can put these videos into a playlist, based on the type of category they fit into. For example, if you record a story time Hangout, make a playlist for story time, and put every recorded Hangout into that playlist. That way, when a patron is viewing one of your videos on their computer or iPad, it’ll just roll right to the next video in the playlist. This will cut down on patrons clicking on some other unrelated video in the sidebar and getting away from your content.
Also, if you need to edit your video to cut out the ending when you’re signing off, YouTube allows you to do that with their editor, so make good use of it, if you need it.
Reason #4 – Your patrons can chat with you, if you want them to.
If patrons are signed into Google and they’re in your actual Hangout (rather than on YouTube), they can actually chat with you, if you open up that functionality. If you wanted to let patrons come on video and ask questions, you could easily do that as well.
This obviously allows for a deeper level of engagement with the program and enables patrons to truly get immersed in what you’re doing.
PRO-TIP: If you have the staff, make sure you have a moderator on hand during the program, so that they can answer questions and sift through the ones that should be answered on air. This sounds like an obvious tip, but I’ve attended quite a few Webinars and Hangouts that didn’t have moderators, and things moved a little slowly to say the least
Reason #5 – It works on everything.
It doesn’t matter if a patron has a laptop, iPad, Android phone, iPhone, Android tablet, etc., Google Hangouts works on nearly everything.
One of the pitfalls of programs similar to Google Hangouts is their limited compatibility with multiple devices. The fact that Hangouts works on nearly everything also increases the chances of attendance to your streaming events.
Well, that’s it, Google Hangouts On Air is pretty amazing, when it comes to broadcasting your events—for absolutely free! As always, if you have any questions for us, let us know in the comments. And, if you liked this article and want us to dive deeper into the topic of Hangouts, let us know.