How To Promote Your Hangouts
If you missed last week’s post on how to set up an HOA series, you missed a doozy! Take a moment to review it, as we dove into the different kinds of HOAs you can do in series and why that’s important. It’s critical to understanding the rest of this article, as I will be mentioning several techniques that only apply to the HOA Series. You can also read about what an HOA actually is, and how to start one, if you missed those too.
Back already? Ok great. Let’s get started.
Think about your Hangout On Air as an Event. A party. If you don’t tell anyone about your party, no one will come, right?
But it’s more than that. If you were going to throw a party, you’d invite all your friends and be happy when they showed up. For this party, we want to invite a much larger circle of people. In fact, the whole point is to begin to attract people we don’t know and to build a growing audience.
To put it bluntly, we must attract new prospects and introduce them to who we are, in order to make the HOA a valuable part of our marketing strategy.
So that means we need to promote these events. We need to tell people about them and get them excited about it. So excited, in fact, that not only will they set aside time to attend, but also let their friends and connections know about it as well.
So how do we do that?
Start At The Beginning
It starts with the HOA itself. What are you talking about? You have to make sure that you choose a topic that is interesting, something that answers questions or addresses problems people are having. I bring that up because the more interesting and exciting your HOA is going to be, the easier it will be to promote it. Granted, not every business or industry or topic can be sexy, but there are degrees. Would you rather watch a show on how to correctly use punctuation in your blogging, or a show that dives into the ways you can tell stories to relate to your audience? They’re both related to content marketing and topics I might want to talk about to help my audience, but which one would you rather see as an HOA?
Yeah, me too.
After the topic comes your choice of Expert or Panelists, and this is another area that cannot be overlooked when it comes to marketing your Hangout. Is your guest personable? Interesting? Perhaps even flamboyant? No one wants to listen to Ben Stein for 30 minutes.
Therefore, when considering who to invite onto your HOA, make sure that you’ve either seen them on someone else’s HOA, or at least talk to them yourself in a private Hangout. Do they present themselves well on camera? Are they able to talk to both you, and the audience, seamlessly? Are they able to have a cogent discussion and answer questions on the fly, without a prepared script? You might even consider developing a rapport with other HOA hosts and asking them who some of their best guests have been. You’ll likely get a nice list of people you can consider for your own show.
And lastly, be sure to spend considerable time on the Title and Description of your show. Most of the rest of our marketing and promotional efforts are going to be spent trying to get people to just visit the Event Page. And like any good landing page, it must convert! The title must be interesting, attention-grabbing, and informative. The description must be complete, but not so thorough as to be boring. Provide your audience with just enough information so that they understand what you’ll be talking about, yet be hungry for more. Include juicy tidbits about your guest, and perhaps a quote or two from them or a previous HOA.
Now that you’ve fine-tuned your HOA or HOA series, it’s time to get into the truly promotional activity. Do not feel as though you have to do all of these techniques, or that you can’t implement them increasingly over time. My motivation here is to be somewhat exhaustive so that you’ll have plenty of methods to choose from. Over time, as you perfect some, go ahead and try others, so that eventually you will have a comprehensive system of HOA promotion in place – a well-oiled machine that works hard to bring your HOA more and more attendees.
Dedicated Website or Landing Page
It starts with a webpage. It can be a complete website dedicated to the series, or a single page within your site that talks about your HOA. Whatever works best for you and your business and the HOA. The point though is to have a permanent online home for your HOA. This is definitely better suited to a series, since a single HOA will have it’s Event Page.
The benefits of having a webpage are that you’ll always have a nice, branded place to direct people, and the page can be updated to include links to previous HOAs, information about the next one, and a calendar for upcoming events. Hopefully you’re using a site builder like SBI! or WordPress so that it will be easy for you to create a new page and then update it when needed.
The page can also include information about the HOA overall, what you’re trying to accomplish, show notes, guest lists, and even some technical help for people who may be new to watching HOAs and aren’t sure how they work.
Set up the page well in advance so that you can link to it whenever appropriate.
Blog About The Show
Definitely blog about your show, both before and after.
Before the show, you can draft an announcement post that it’s coming up, along with who is going to be on the show, and invite your audience to submit questions they’d like to see answered during the live broadcast.
After the show is finished, publish a blog post that has the embedded YouTube recording, along with notes or even a full transcription from the show.
Of course, each time you publish a blog post, that needs to be promoted just as you would any other blog.
Of course, the place we’re going to be talking about our shows the most is on Social Media. That in itself could probably be an entire article, but I’ll break it down as succinctly as possible.
The HOA and Event Page are obviously built in to Google+, so that’s the logical place to start promoting your event. As soon as you’ve built your HOA Event and you’re ready to begin promoting it, share it with your Google+ audience. If you have a brand page and a personal profile, it’s common to share to both… either as direct shares, or share to one and then the other shares that share.
For instance, Jeff Sieh will create a scheduled HOA for Manly Pinterest Tips and share that to the Manly Pinterest Tips Google+ Page. Then, Jeff will go to his personal profile and share the post from the Manly Pinterest Tips Page. That makes sure followers of both accounts are covered, as well as adds a nice bit of branding by sharing the Page’s post. Like this:
Those shares should be Public. You will also want to share a reminder at least once more before the event, perhaps the day of, depending on how far out it’s been scheduled. A weekly show, for instance, might have an initial invitation sent early in the week when it’s first set up, and then a reminder the day before or day of.
You can also Pin the initial post to the top of your stream so that anyone viewing your profile will see it.
Twitter should definitely see multiple tweets about your event. Tweet out an initial invitation, and then follow that up with tweets about the experts, tweets about the topic, reminder tweets, and so on. How many and when will depend in large part on how often you’re currently tweeting. Someone who’s already tweeting regularly every day could easy tweet about their HOA 1 – 3 times a day. If you’re tweeting once a day or less, well, let’s just say you should probably be tweeting more anyways!
Whether you have a Facebook profile or Page, your posting should probably fall along the same lines as Google+. Once when you set up the event, and just one or two reminders as you get closer.
Now, that said, if you’re planning a one-time HOA and want to make a big deal out of it, you should likely schedule it weeks in advance, and if that’s the case, you’ll need to promote it several times during the interim. For something like that, take a cue from some of the big brands that do regular webinars.
One fun option you might consider for Facebook is to simulcast your HOA using 22Social. With 22Social, you can create a new tab within your Facebook Page and let your Facebook audience watch the HOA without having to leave Facebook. It’s a nice option, and a unique element you can add to your Facebook posts. But it’s also something to consider heavily… whether or not you want your Facebook audience to avoid coming to your Google+ Event Page.
Like any blog post, if you’ve spent time perfecting your LinkedIn profile and it is aligned with your business and the topic of your HOA, definitely share it. You might even consider posting a LinkedIn Post about it (essentially a blog post on LinkedIn).
And while you can share an update to a Company Page if you have one, the sad reality of Company Pages is that they’re generally only followed by prospective employees. So unless you’re a big brand like HP that is already actively using LinkedIn for HR, don’t rely on that Company Page for too much.
We talked in one of the earlier posts in the series about how, once you’ve set up an Event Page for a scheduled HOA, you can actually add a teaser video. Well, that video is hosted within, you guessed it… YouTube. You should have a nice, branded channel on YouTube to host these teasers and recorded videos, so that each time you add a new video, your subscribers will be notified and check it out.
You can also take advantage of the Playlist functionality within YouTube to group videos together.
Finally, make sure that you’re pinning everything to Pinterest. The teaser video. The blog post image. The Event Page banner. The guest quote graphic. And of course, once it’s finished, the HOA video itself.
And you can pin the same pin to multiple boards, so use the multiple pins and multiple boards strategy as a way to make sure you have consistent activity on Pinterest in the days or weeks leading up to your event.
Other Social Media Options
Within the realm of social media, there a number of other options that may or may not be appropriate for you, such as:
- Google+ Communities
- Twitter Chat
- Facebook Groups
- LinkedIn Groups
- Pinterest Group Boards
Just consider the topic and the audience and, by all means, be careful not to be too pushy about your event. Present it as helpful and informative, and people be will interested.
And also keep in mind that the less you invest in an audience on a particular platform, the less you can expect to get in return. For instance, if you never frequent the Facebook Groups that you’re part of and never contribute to any discussions, it’s unlikely that dropping a link to your latest HOA is going to get you a lot of attendees. I’m not saying you shouldn’t leverage all of your available channels; just have reasonable expectations.
Once you’ve hosted your first HOA, you will now have an audience. Everyone who attends an HOA is part of your audience, and you should put them into a specific circle within Google+. The next time you are ready to announce a new HOA, share the invitation to Public, so that everyone can see it, but also add this new circle to the Audience and check the box that says, “Also send email to.” Google+ will then send a notification to each of those people circled, depending on their notification settings.
Or, alternatively, you can click on Invite within the Event Page and select that circle to send them all an invitation. It really just depends on what you want them to see in their notification… a direct invitation to an event, or that you’ve shared a post with them because you want them to read your share and then the event page.
Do make sure that you include a note within your Event Page description that gives them a heads-up about these invitations. Tell them that you routinely add attendees to your HOA circle and will be inviting them to the next HOA, but that they can opt out at any time.
This may be one of the single, most effective techniques you can employ to build your audience. By regularly inviting the people that came to your past HOAs, you can ensure that each HOA has at least as large an audience as the last one.
If you aren’t already building an email list on your website, start right now.
Let your email list know each time you have an upcoming HOA. If your latest blog posts are automatically going out to your email list, then you’ll have this covered. But if not, take the time to compose a custom message and let that segment know what’s coming up.
We’ve covered most of the standard promotional activities, and these are standard because, well, they’re free. Now it’s time to cover some not-free activities.
There are lots of paid advertising options you might consider. Some will be better or worse for you depending on your business and topic and so on. Generally speaking, techniques like paid Banners on other people’s websites, or Google Pay Per Click ads will not likely be as effective (unless you target your landing page, rather than a specific event).
Instead, what I’d recommend is focusing on social advertising. I’m talking about:
* While there is no advertising within Google+, Google+ brands can use +Post Ads to use Google+ posts as AdWords ads.
Facebook and Twitter in particular offer superior targeting capabilities, for extremely low investments. I particularly like Facebook ads because you’ll likely pay a low cost per click, driving traffic and interested attendees to your event, and at the same time get free impressions and exposure for your brand. However, Facebook tends to frown on advertising features from other platforms (particularly Google+), so you may have to promote a post that links to your landing page, rather than directly to your Event Page.
On the other hand, LinkedIn sports one of the most expensive cost per click models, but could potentially be the most rewarding, due to the nature of its users. If you want to make sure you’re getting CEOs and decision makers to your event, it might be worth paying $4 per click.
The bottom line here is that you need to try each of the current offerings and see which ones make the most sense for you, and your budget.
These last couple of promotional methods are less direct, but no less effective. In fact, long-term, these techniques can do wonders for your brand and exposure.
If you want to get into HOAs, you need to watch other HOAs and other hosts. But you should also consider being a guest on other HOAs. It’s an opportunity for you to see what it looks like “inside” the show, without having to be in charge of the show, as well as a chance to see other pro hosts up close and learn from them. So that’s invaluable experience.
More importantly, it’s an opportunity for you to introduce yourself, and your brand, to someone else’s audience. As a guest, you get to show off your expertise (without actually showing off, mind you), and really make a positive impression on everyone watching that live broadcast.
And, depending on the HOA, that broadcast might live on for years within their YouTube channel or perhaps embedded on blog posts. I still see re-shares of HOAs I was a guest on for one host or another.
I would avoid asking to be a guest, particularly if you’ve never spoken with the host. Instead, become a regular viewer of their show. Get to know them and their audience and interact with them. If you’re able to offer insightful comments during and after their HOAs, you’ll make a good impression and that might lead to more conversations and an invitation.
Once you’ve been on a few shows, for a few different hosts, your reputation will spread and other hosts, whom you don’t know, will seek you out.
Similarly, if you’re a good writer, you can submit guest blog posts to other people’s blogs. The same benefits and principles apply. With each guest post, you get to introduce yourself to someone else’s audience. And those guest blog posts will definitely live on in those archives and in Buffer’d tweets.
While you probably wouldn’t mention your HOA within the guest post itself, you would mention it in your Author Bio that appears below the post. There, you can say who you are, what you do, and mention the show, with a link to your landing page. That way, no matter when a reader gets to that blog post, they’ll end up on a page that tells them all about the show and when the next HOA is scheduled.
There are a couple of other ways you can promote your HOA, but they largely revolve around converting your HOA into a completely different kind of content so that you can post it to networks that favor that format, like, say, audio. But that’s also getting into repurposing of your content, and will be the subject of our fifth and final article in this series, so stay tuned! Subscribe to our newsletter so you won’t miss it.
Articles in this series:
- What Is A Google+ Hangout On Air (HOA), And Why Is It Good For Business?
- How To Start And Use A Hangout On Air Event
- How To Structure Your Hangout On Air Series
- How To Promote Your Hangouts (You are here)
- How To Repurpose Your HOA