Google+ Hangouts on Air and EDU

source url Google just announced that Google+ Hangouts on Air will be available to everyone worldwide.

What is a Google+ Hangout?

Google+ is a Google’s social network which is more based on friend discovery which is different than Facebook’s model of being a voyeur on your friend’s lives. Google+ hangouts allow you to have an online video chat with multiple people at once. Think of it like a giant video conference call.  Quick promo video is here.

The cool thing is that this is 100% free, and you can join anyone’s public hangout. This means you can really strike up a conversation with people you don’t know and potentially learn new things.

Google+ Hangouts on Air is a way for people to publicly broadcast their hangout and save the video recording on their YouTube channel for a later viewing. Some examples of this are here:

Trey Ratcliffe in a Google+ Hangout.

Here is a quick explanation of how to get your Google+ Hangout started:

Why is this important for Education Marketing?

Marketing in general is about questions and answers. (OBVIOUS STATEMENT). Does your product or service help me do X?

Education marketing is largely form based and a one to one approach. I fill out a form, get on the phone with you, ask a bunch of questions and the school tries to sell me on a course.

Leads are incredibly inefficient in some regards. They ask a person to wait for an answer, sometimes the leads are never called back since they don’t meet certain criteria, and you are in a sales pitch most of the time, not a true consultative approach. Another downside for leads is that they require one call center rep to be talking to one person at a time. Lastly, I would bet that most prospective students don’t have a pen and paper to write down their questions and the respective answers. The majority of the knowledge on the call is lost within seconds of hanging up, resulting in more calls or a lost sale.

Being in a recorded communal chat with video has several advantages.

  • The video is recorded – people can review the video again later if they get interrupted. Being interrupted is almost 100% certain given the volume of communications methods we have these days.
  • The questions come from multiple people. One person may ask a question you never thought of. This benefits everyone in the group.
  • Cost delivery is much lower. One trained person can talk to several people at once.
  • Since it is online, you can continue the conversation after the video. It is easy to take the conversation private or continue via phone.
  • It feels more personal since you can see the other person’s face.  This builds major trust with students that are worried about “fake online schools.”
  • The video itself can be used a marketing material. Real conversations are a great way to show your company has a soul and see that the other prospective students have the same worries as you. Knowing you are not alone is a major psychological element.
  • If a person can successfully communicate via a video chat, they should have no problem learning online. Consider this a quick and free test to assess their technical skill level.
  • You can easily assess their grammar level and communication skills.
  • You don’t have to worry about transparency issues. Everything is recorded.
  • No school is doing this now. The first movers here will establish a major market advantage and potentially drive real sign ups versus useless “likes” on Facebook.

What about B2B marketing?

From a B2C perspective, there are many advantages for using Google+ Hangouts on Air for marketing. However, I think there are also major benefits for using this method for B2B marketing of Education technology.

Imagine being able to host webinars about your technology for a variety of market leaders at once? At first you might think this is a bit odd since your competitors might be on the call.  That may be true in some settings but in other settings you might actually receive valuable insight from the other people in the Hangout.

Instead of traveling to expensive conferences, sometimes it is better to get 5-10 thought leaders into a common place and hash out a guideline, talk about a white paper, or talk about some pertinent news. Or perhaps after a conference, the panel wants to clarify a few points, they can easily hold a hangout to further discuss. The conversations should continue after the convention.

Anyway you look at it, Google+ Hangouts on Air has the potential to really enable a lot of new ways of communicating for the B2B world.

Another potential use for this technology is a shareholder conference. I can easily see quarterly shareholder calls going from boring phone calls to interactive video chats so that shareholders from around the world can question management.