Google+ Hangouts: Press Conference Of The Future?

December 8, 2011

Like a lot of people, I have a Google+ profile that I rarely touch. When I looked up the stat you’re about to read, I figured it’d be low, but not this low: Of the 40 million Google+ users, only 17 percent are considered to be active and frequent. Amassing over 33 million inactive profiles in only five months has got to be a little troubling to the Google peeps.

When I signed up for Google+ I liked its minimalist design; it seemed like a private resort compared to Facebook’s Cancun party hotel full of news feed updates,¬†irrelevant ads, suggested Mafia games, friend lists, etc. But, alas, I retreated back to Facebook and Twitter after deciding it was too much work to establish¬†a new network. And I haven’t found a reason to go back — until I saw the video above.

I read about the Google+ hangout feature when the social network launched earlier this year but hadn’t really seen it in action until I saw the hangout led by Dallas Cowboys star linebacker DeMarcus Ware. I gotta say, it’s cooler than I gave it credit for. I suppose I dismissed it because I figured we had enough video-streaming options for different uses (Ustream, Skype, Livestream, etc.) and that I would never use it.

I may be proven wrong soon. While Ustream has been a great video service that athletes and musicians have flocked to for giving fans inside glimpses into their lives, hangouts are much more intimate. You can only invite up to 10 people, and the interviewee can see the interviewer’s face during the chat whereas Ustream interviewers just have a chat board to ask their questions with.

When the Cowboys marketing team selected 10 fans to conduct a Google+ hangout Q&A with a star player, it provided a blueprint for many to follow. As a sports fan, I thought about how much sense it would make for a player like Derrick Williams to do his initial presser with Twin Cities media via a hangout right after being drafted.

As a marketer, I thought about arranging exclusive spokesperson media tours or consumer Q&A sessions won through a contest. Plenty of other thoughts came up related to customer service, brainstorms, focus groups, online education, and more.

Could this be the future of press conferences? And, perhaps a more immediate question, is it time for Google to go all-in on hangouts?