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Google+ Hangouts on Air and EDU

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.

 

 

SXSW Thoughts 2012

SXSW is still going on in Austin at the moment but the EDU and Interactive conferences are officially done.

How was SXSW? Massive. The conference literally is a city by itself. Multiple venues, 20-30 sessions per hour and thousands of parties. Over 250k people will come to Austin for SXSW this year. That is over 30% of the normal population of Austin.

I thought it might be good to summarize what SXSW Interactive really talked about.

Major outcomes/themes of SXSW 2012.

  • http://kaitlynweathers.com/show/the-cellar-acoustic/?ical=1 Healthcare is the new social. The government is eager to clean the mess we call our healthcare system. The open health data initiative (http://www.data.gov/health) is key to this. Lots of money will flow to this tech sector since there are healthcare companies with deep pockets to buy it.  Simple projects like iTriage.com provide massive value to companies like Aetna.
  • http://puccinikitchens.co.uk/news/tag/wellbeing/ Education needs reform. In the short term the attention will flow to social teaching platforms but there is little money to be made in this sector without the help of student loans. I suspect reform in this sector will be hampered by revenue model issues. The tech folks that focus on creating solutions for the K-12 public school sector will see the most traction in the near term.
  • go to site Social is a bubble. Very few if any social apps or sites have any revenue. It is inevitable to have these sites collapse unless they embrace something like advertising. Most of the apps at the show were features of another site like Facebook. Few if any had original technology that didn’t depend on the Twitter API, Google Maps API or Facebook API.
  • The 2012 election will be decided on social. Focus on transparency, fact checking and online donations will drive the new candidate.
  • TV is not going anywhere.  Former Vice President Al Gore said no current technology rivals the richness of TV in terms of content. The goal is not to replace TV but converge with it. TV based social apps will drive much higher advertising rates in the near future.
  • Google may not be the winner in social but they still command a large amount of your daily internet time. Fragmentation between Google+ and Facebook is not helping the consumer.
  • Android still doesn’t get any love. Developers are still choosing to launch apps on iOS first. This was really shocking to see considering the Android phone penetration. Nokia and Blackberry have been thrown to the side of the road. They are no longer relevant.
  • Mobile Marketing is still in its infancy. Mobile ad formats are inadequate and there is a large lack of understanding of how mobile advertising currently works.
  • Near Field Payments or NFCwill become mainstream at the end of this year. Companies like ISIS and Google Wallet will lead the way. This will be a massive change to the US Economy over the next 18-24 months. If IPhone 5 has NFC in it, it will solidify the concept and push it mainstream. Almost all Android phones will have it by years end.
  • Privacy will be a renewed movement. People’s social profiles have gone out of control. Many people expressed concerns about not sharing pics of kids and family on Facebook anymore. Newer more secure platforms will start to gain traction. Try out burst.it for example. Apps like Highlight are overly socia in my opinion.
  • Portals are returning. Sites like Pinterest.com, Pixable.com etc are just a re-skinned form of Yahoo.com. Curation of the internet is necessary. None of these sites have any way of automatically filtering for you, they are all socially sourced. People are throwing tons of money at these ideas. Welcome to 1999 again.
  • US interactive business models don’t always translate to other economies. But the bigger ideas are easy to copy and implement locally. Think Ren Ren, Yandex, Baidu etc.
  • eBooks are coming of age. The iPad, Kindle and Nook are going to create a whole new type of book, newspaper and magazine experience that really shows what HTML 5 can do.
  • Event Planning apps were a big deal. Apps like Schemer and Glomper made some traction.
  • Apps became creepy. Apps like Ban.jo and Highlight know, display and share everything about you.

Overall, SXSW was a really enjoyable event. It is hard to digest but if you pick off the things that interest you the most, you can really get a lot out of it. The US economy is for a massive change this year.  Keys to having any of these predictions/statements come true will be dependent on the 2012 Presidential election.

 

Rebecca Black spells the end of Google Search

Google Zeitgeist recently announced the most searched terms for 2011. In the past this list has such celebrities like Brittany Spears and so called Hollywood talent.

This year Rebecca Black, the singer of the Friday song, which has been repeatedly named one of the worst songs of all time. As you all know the video blew up on Youtube.com and became one of the largest viral videos of all time. The video was also noted for the number of dislikes on it. It is probably one of the most hated videos of all time also.

How does all of this relate back to Google? It shows a clear social phenomena that people are viewing things that their friends recommend to them and not actively search for new music online. The rate and speed of which this video grew is a clear indicator that people use technology to “share” things which are interesting. As more and more people share curated pieces of content on sites like Pinterest and Facebook, the world will see a much lower dependence on sites like Google.  I would love to see how many people shared the Rebecca Black video on Facebook versus searched for it in 2011. That would really show the velocity and power behind the social sphere versus the search sphere. Facebook has in some ways taken your real life conversations and put them online and allowed you to share important pieces of content while you are having a real conversation. Google is a system you use after you get home or back to your desk to check out what your friend was just talking about. It is not longer instant.

Google unfortunately is an antiquated way of finding something. It doesn’t recommend anything based on your current activity on the web, nor does it effectively create a way for your friends to share the content they like.

Google+ makes a decent attempt at being real time and merging the conversation with the actual reference media but it also shows you that Google knows it’s search business is under attack. In the coming years, traditional home computer based search on Google will die. People just don’t need it anymore.  Mobile will be replace a lot of the traditional type in search but the monetization of Google AdWords there may be substantially lower.

Google really needs Google+ to work or they need to start integrating their search technology into other devices such as cars to help continue their growth curve.