Hangouts: The Future of Live Broadcasting


The power of social media is epitomized in how well the Google Hangouts tear down barriers. From Presidential hangouts to John Legend’s ‘hangout jumping,’ hangouts put people one step closer to the brands, celebrities, and popular figures they follow ardently.

On the Change Stage at Social Media Week, Steve Grover, Google+’s Director of Community Partnerships, walked the audience through the thought process behind making Google Hangouts what it is today.

“We wanted to take the power of the control room and put it into free video conferencing,” said Grover.

Google did this by adding a control room feature that allows you to control aspects of the broadcast remotely and by including a feature that allows you to enhance lighting — two of the most important aspects that turn a Google Hangout into a high quality broadcast experience.

In addition to the technical features, Google Hangouts also allows a brand or media personality to schedule live Hangouts, so that they can be promoted accordingly. Some tips behind making this a success would be to have a short preview video posted on the event invite and ultimately making the live event something worthwhile for the user.

Even though it’s hard to drive an audience to view live online content, it’s not impossible. Live Streams of celebrities or new endeavors like Hearst’s #CosmoLive, in which Cosmopolitan’s web team live streams a pitch meeting, are prime examples of how well it can work.

Google Hangouts are currently being used in various different settings — Billboard has done them on red carpets and HuffPost Live hosts entire interviews and forums on them. Yet, the truly impressive feat is that Google Hangouts allow anyone the opportunity to tell their story.

According to Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Host and Producer at HuffPost Live, the most magical moments on Google Hangouts happen when a person is given the opportunity to join a conversation they would ordinarily not be invited to by any other news station. It’s the difference between spewing facts on homelessness and humanizing the topic by having someone who is living through it speak on the issue.

And this is where Grover sees the future of Google Hangouts going.

“Mobile hangouts on air can do for live video what YouTube did what archive video,” said Grover.

Live mobile hangouts would give any one person the option of broadcasting live news in real time.

And it would continue to help break down more barriers by putting the storytelling ability into the hands of any Google+ user.

Vivian Nunez is a senior at Baruch College studying marketing and journalism. Follow her on Twitter @vivnunez.

Vivian is one of our SMW Press Corps members, managed by OpenCommunications. Learn more here.

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