A Step-By-Step Guide To Building A Brand With Google Hangouts

Written by Donna Merrill

There’re a lot of people talking about the same things you are.

Regardless of what your niche is, there is tons of competition from other folks who may well have more experience, success, and expertise than you do.

So, how do you stand out in the crowd?

Some folks think that you need to show that you have more experience, success, and expertise than your competition.

The truth is, though, that you don’t need any of those things as much as you need a recognizable, believable and magnetic brand.

Grab Your Slice Of The Pie

I like to compare online marketing with pizza.

In the Brooklyn neighborhood I grew up in, there was a pizza parlor on every block.

Now, some of them had been there for decades, and everybody knew them like they were part of the family.

They had success, name recognition, and immense popularity.

So, wouldn’t you think that nobody else would dare open a new pizza parlor and compete with these big name guys?

But people did.

All the time.

The reason they did and the reason they too were successful was simple.

There was no shortage of customers. There were plenty to go around. You didn’t have to compete with the established guys; you only had to be determined to do your very best.

Create the best pizza you could, be friendly and fair with everyone, and never compete with anybody but yourself.

In other words, you didn’t have to be “better” than anyone, you only had to develop your brand, your reliable service, your pricing structure, delivery policy and all the rest.

And you had to make sure to sell, not pizza, but your unique brand as a pizza parlor. You had to be trusted. You had to over-deliver on quality and customer service.

It’s no different with a blog or any online business for that matter.

You don’t have to be better than anyone.

You have to be yourself, and work hard every day to craft and promote a unique and trustworthy brand that will attract loyal, repeat customers.

Google Hangouts On Air

One of my favorite tools for delivering my unique brand is Google Hangouts On Air (HOA).

Hangouts are a Google video platform that allow you to stream live events, just like a webinar.

They give you a chance to talk live to guests appearing on video with you, to screen share a presentation or simply talk to folks yourself, face-to-camera.

There are other things you can do, like take live Q&A from the audience and bring multiple guests to the event.

Your goal is not to use every single feature possible, though, but to use the one or two that you’re most comfortable with to get started building your brand.

So, let me show you a few ways you can leverage this powerful platform.

First, you need to have a YouTube account and a Google+ profile.

That’s it.

Now you’re ready to do your first hangout.

Here is The HOA Process

Sign into your Google+ profile.

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

Next, go to Hangouts On Air.

Here’s the link:

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

Now, you’ll notice that you have two options.

You can choose to broadcast either:

1. a standard Hangout [Home] -or-
2. an HOA [Hangouts On Air]

A standard Hangout is an excellent platform for “hanging out” with a coaching client, or a small group of students that you’re teaching something to, or a small mastermind group. You can make these hangouts private by inviting only your chosen guests to join. But they’re not the vehicle for building your brand, partly because they are only private, for invited guests only. They are tailor made for small group activities and are excellent for private coaching.

HOA’s, though, are what you want to use to build a big, bold brand for yourself.

That’s because HOA notifications can be sent out to the “public” meaning anyone on Google+, as well as selected circles of your followers. There’s no limit to the number of people that can be in any of your circles, so you can pretty much notify everyone you want. So when your HOA event goes live, there’s a great chance to have lots of attendees. And, unlike a standard webinar, your attendees don’t have to register in advance.

Your Hangout On Air

So let’s get down to the business of producing your HOA.

First, click on the HOA option… [Hangouts On Air].

You’ll land here:

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

Notice that when you click the yellow “Create a Hangout On Air” button, you’ll be in position to “broadcast live conversations to the world for free.”

This is critical because…

1. you’re not just broadcasting to a private audience of 10, 100 or even 1,000 people. When you produce and HOA, you are pretty much broadcasting “to the world.” That means far broader potential exposure than you are likely to muster on a closed platform webinar system. And that’s only on the front-end of the event. The greatest branding benefits of HOA’s comes with your post production promotion. We’ll talk about that a bit later.

2. All of this is available to anyone to use for free. You don’t get stuck with a big monthly bill so that you can do private events for a limited audience. Google HOA’s are completely free to use “out of the box.” Now there are webinar systems you can pay for to broadcast your HOA events within their unique platforms, and while they are helpful, they’re not necessary. You can produce your own HOA’s for free.

Now notice that you can broadcast your live events not only on Google, but also on YouTube, your website, or on any private HOA-compatible webinar platform. This gives you enormous flexibility for broadcasting live, and also for continued promotion after your event is over.

Just think, whether your completed HOA is on your YouTube channel, your blog, or even your membership site, you have multiple places you can use for building your brand with your established audience, and for showcasing it to new prospective audiences.

Create A Hangout On Air

When you click the “Create A Hangout On Air” button, you come to this screen, where you are prompted to set up the details of your event:

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Give it a name…
  • Tell people what it’s about…
  • Starts… Now… Later
  • Audience… Public + G-circles
  • CLICK SHARE (bottom left corner of the screen shown above)

At this point, you can invite special guests. Just type in the name or email address of the person you want to join you on your HOA. These are guests that can be live on your presentation. It’s perfect for doing interviews.

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

Once you’ve invited your guest (if you have a guest), you’re ready to broadcast.

Just click the big, green “Broadcast” button at the bottom of the screen, and you’ll go live.

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

Once you’re live, you can hover over the left side of your presentation screen, and you’ll find a control panel:

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

Probably the most important function here is the green arrow. This is the desktop share icon. When you click it, you can share anything on your desktop.

This is important because it’s the desktop share function that allows you to show a presentation you have set up.

This is most commonly a Powerpoint or Keynote slideshow that you’ve prepared for your HOA.

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

Once you are screen sharing your presentation, you’ll no longer be face-to-camera in front of your audience. They’ll only see your slideshow as you deliver your presentation in audio, off camera.

Now, you can go back and forth between your slideshow presentation and your face to camera presentation. This is nice because it makes your audience feel like they’re in the same room with you. It’s an extremely effective method for building your brand.

While people are watching and listening to you, they’re getting to know you. They know what you look like, what you sound like, and they’re going to feel like they know you. Your unique method for delivering content, opinion, or conversation becomes your brand.

Everyone knows something about exercise, for example.  That’s nothing new. But people seeing and hearing you deliver the message makes it new and unique, and therefore, it becomes your unique brand.

We go to the bookstore and see one book after another on the topic. We see CD’s demonstrating specific exercises, and we see TV shows doing the same thing.

If we attend somebody’s HOA giving us the same information we already know about exercise, we are now consuming it under a new brand name. If we like this “new” demonstration, wrapped up under cover of this new brand, then we may well decide to follow our new authority on the topic.

Your Presentation

Without going into exhaustive detail about how to deliver your presentation, here is what you need to focus on.

Your presentation will typically be either a pitch, training or conversation.

Any “pitch” HOA, must deliver some valuable training leading up to the pitch. People want to learn something when they attend your HOA. After you’ve given them some real value, you can encourage them to make a purchase that will deliver even more value to them on the topic.

A straight “training” HOA will also provide value, but it won’t lead to a pitch. That’s the main difference.

For branding purposes, the important thing if you’re broadcasting a pitch or training is to make sure that people know who you are and how you can help them. The HOA gives you an incredibly efficient method of doing more than just telling people you can help them solve their problems. During the HOA, you can demonstrate a solution.

The key is to make your solution simple enough that your attendees can accomplish it themselves.

Nothing will build your brand on more solid ground than actually demonstrating solutions that your audience can repeat in their own business.

That’s the magic of an HOA presentation.

A “conversational” HOA is simply that. You have an informal conversation with one or more people you’ve invited to participate, or with just one other person. I’ve used this format to do interviews via HOA. I’ve also used HOA’s to have conversations with people.

What makes conversations nice, particularly for building your brand, is that you are transparent and real to your audience. They get to know you as a real person, not just as a salesperson, expert, or authority.

Conversations are designed for simply talking to people, maybe about your business, or maybe just about some neutral topic. Their purpose is first and foremost to build relationships, and foster engagement. Clearly, they are perfect vehicles for building your personal brand.

HOA “After Hours”

Your main event will be available to live attendees. They may see it on Google’s official HOA site, or they may see it in a live streaming format that you set up either on your blog, website or within a webinar platform.

You can promote the event in advance by posting it to your G+ profile, by sending an email to your list telling them when you’ll be broadcasting, and on any other social media site, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

But in addition to the actual live event, your “after hours” promotion will give you tremendous leverage in building your brand.

By “after hours” promotion, I’m talking about the many things you can do with your “live” presentation after it has been broadcast.

One of the nice things about HOA is that your live events are automatically converted into YouTube videos on your channel.

Even if someone missed the live broadcast, they can find it on your YouTube channel.

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

Also, you can embed the YouTube video on your blog, Facebook page, to your email list… for as long as you like after your live broadcast.

Here’s one I put on my Facebook page…

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

You can also embed the video link to your HOA within your blog post…

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

As paid content on your membership site…

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

Or even within a digital information product that you’re selling or, in this case, giving away…

Build Your Brand With Hangouts

These are all great ways to keep delivering your personal brand to your target audience long after the live broadcast.

In my business, this “after hours” promotion reaches a far greater audience than the original live broadcast itself. It’s the main reason I do an HOA to begin with.

Just think of it, even if not one single person attends your live broadcast, once your HOA is completed and “in the can” so to speak, you have a digital asset that you can leverage in so many ways, and for as long as you want.

Remember, there’re a lot of people talking about the same things you are. Regardless of what your niche is, you face tons of competition every day.

A very effective way to rise above all the noise, and to stand out in the crowd is to build your brand with Hangouts.

Note for the editor:

Here’s an example of a Google Hangout that Donna did with me (Matt Wolfe) where we talk about Facebook advertising:

Question To You:

Are you doing Google Hangouts right now? If you are, how are you using them? If you are not, what has been your biggest holdup?

Share with your friends


About the author

Donna Merrill

Donna is a well known blogger and creator of "Blogging Magic" - an intensive guide to blogging. "Blogging Magic" is for beginners who are trying to figure out how to bring their blogs to life with tons of visits, comments and social media.

Head over to Donna's blog at DonnaMerrillTribe.com and follow her on Twitter at @donna_tribe.


  • Great post Donna! I’m loving Google Hangouts more and more each time I use it.

    It’s a great way to kill a few birds with a single stone… You can meet and interview great people, you are creating live content that builds credibility, you have a great piece of video content that you can embed anywhere, and, if you want to go the extra mile, you can rip the audio out for a podcast and get a transcription for text content…

    So many reasons why Google Hangouts (and live streaming in general) is an amazing thing to build a business around!

    • Hi Matt,

      I love using Google Hangouts. There are so many ways to drive people to your blog from it. We can embed one in a post. Or we can download it to Youtube, create a card that leads to a blog we want people to read.

      I also like the fact that we can invite guests and do interviews…Remember ours a while back lol? Using Google Hangouts can bring our clients/customers closer to us also. I like to meet up with some of my clients using this and have a good conversation.

      It is also a great way to use as a tool for teaching others. And sometimes, we just want to mastermind. I just hope that people use this feature because it can be very powerful, especially because Mr Google loves you to use it. he he he

      Some people talk about SEO…I find that using Google Hangouts do so much better than any SEO one can summon up.

      Thanks so much for having me here as your guest.


  • Hi Matt and Donna, A great post and thank you so much for explaining the details. I’ve worked with regular hangouts but never HOA. I knew they were able to reach a lot of people but I did not realize the enormity of it.

    Matt, I believe this is my first visit to your blog. It is nice to meet you and looks like you have a lot of great information to keep me busy for a while.

    Have a great day to both of you. 🙂

    • Hi Monna,

      Great to see you here on Matt’s blog. Indeed Matt always has great information here as well as his amazing marketing strategies.

      I know we have been on some Google Hangouts together in the past as a group. Now you can see how important it is to use yourself! I’m sure that this will come in handy for you running the PAC group.

      Thanks for coming by,


  • Hi Donna,

    I have to admit, I had almost completely forgot about HOA videos. I used to do a lot of them and over the last 18 months my computer was slowly dying. I thought the problem was HOA until I realized it was my computer.

    So I stopped doing them because the quality wasn’t there.

    I just got a new computer last week and I intend to jump right back int. Like you said, it’s a great way to grow an audience.

    I used to record up to ten minutes and sometimes I would have a 100+ tuning in.

    Thanks for the reminder and I hope you have an awesome week Donna!

    I’m off to share your article.

    Have a great week!

    ~ Don Purdum

    • Hi Don,

      My gosh, I remember when all that happened and it was all because of your computer. Well get back on track my friend because you have had a great audience in the past. I just wonder how you will make things sizzle when you get back into it lol.

      It is a great way to reach many people as you know so well.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing this post.


  • Is Google+ still relevant today? I mean, I love the HOA format and functionality (and your steps above are great), but I’m just wondering if it’s a platform worth building on because everyone is talking about G+ and lack of relevancy.

    • Hey Marly,

      I’m sure Donna will have her thoughts on this as well but here are mine…

      Google+ and Google Hangouts are two completely separate things. I know Hangouts was originally developed inside of Google+ but they serve completely different purposes now. Google+, as a social media platform, may not be very relevant. Not many people hangout there like they would on Facebook or Twitter… I personally still post content to it but, I do agree, that it’s probably one of the lesser relevant social media platforms right now…

      Saying that, Google Hangouts on Air is only getting bigger! Live Streaming is getting more and more popular and Google Hangouts makes it accessible to anyone. If you have any desire to grow a brand for yourself, I think it’s important to begin incorporating some sort of live-streaming element… Maybe it’s HOAs, maybe it’s Periscope or Blab… But this is the way influencers (or people that want to be influencers) are beginning to connect with their audience. I think it’s important if you really want to stay relevant.

      That’s my 2 cents. Great question!

      • Thanks, Matt! That was really helpful to know. I haven’t done a HOA in a longtime so will reread this post before doing one, but really liking these tips.

        • Hi Marty,

          As live streaming is popular these days, especially with Blab and Periscope, it is great but very different than HOA.

          When doing a Google Hangout, we can work it in many ways. Interview style, masterminding with others and sharing it with the public, or instructional style. When you think of it…It is live streaming, but we can use many more tools there than we can via Periscope for instance.

          Screen sharing, Powerpoint presentations, and so much more. It can be interactive if we want or not. We can use it as a presentation style. Then download it to Youtube, put a Youtube card there to link it to what ever we want. I usually link mine to a blog post which has an offer on it.

          Works like a charm….Just say’n!


  • Hi Donna,

    Great post.

    I’ve been on a couple of Hangouts but wasn’t aware of
    HOA, probably because I wasn’t the person running it. As for why I
    haven’t done one myself. I have enough on my plate already, with
    trying to come up with regular posts for my blog, working on a video
    traffic training series and learning the ins and outs of using Twitter
    as my main traffic source, to name a few.

    I’m adding this post to my favorites list for future reference. I look
    forward to your next post on your blog.

    Have a great week……Chris

    • Hi Chris,

      I know the feeling lol. Being on a learning curve can be overwhelming. But the good thing is take it one step at a time Chris. Good to know you are working on a video traffic series. Using video is that “virtual handshake” to others for the KLT factor I always say!

      Thanks for adding this to your post favorites. I’m sure it will come in handy for you when the time is right. Using HOA is a great way to reach more people so keep that in mind.

      Thanks for coming by,


  • Wow, what an information packed post Donna! You always manage to explain processes in a way that makes sense and less intimidating. I’ve never done a Hang Out myself, but I’m familiar with yours and can’t think of anyone better to learn from. Well done.

    • Hi Marquita,

      Well, you know me…I like to keep things simple so that people can be able to take action upon what they can pick up! I did get many requests about HOA lately and doing this post is a great way to help others that have never done one themselves.

      Indeed, not intimidating at all. That’s the way I like to teach.

      Thanks so much for stopping by,


  • Excellent One!
    What an information packed post! You always manage to explain processes in a way that makes sense. I’ve never done a Hang Out myself, but I’m familiar with yours and can’t think of anyone better to learn from. Well done.
    Thanks for your Post.

    • Hi Subra,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Using HOA is one of the greatest ways to get more people to notice you. There will always be those “watchers” who may not get involved, but later on someone will contact you and say “I’ve seen your Google Hangout….” That always surprises me lol.

      Many thanks for your comment.


  • This is a great demonstration of how to use hangouts for building your brand, Donna.

    I know you’ve used this with great success. I also know you’ve been doing a great job on Periscope, and I wonder which one you like better.

    It seems to me that hangouts are especially effective for delivering trainings and information, especially since you can share your PowerPoint/Keynote presentation and other desktop screens. I also like the way you use it for interviews.

    One of the big reasons to use Hangouts is that it gives you a very high quality and free method for producing live stream webinars. It makes me wonder how long the high cost, stand-alone webinar platforms will be around. Especially when you take into account the viral and SEO benefits of using a Google product.

    I think one of reasons that people shy away from Hangouts is that there is a bit of a learning curve involved. But with the step by step guide you’ve put together, here, I think a lot more people will get the courage to jump in and give it a try.

  • Hey David,

    I love live streaming! To answer your question, I do prefer Google Hangouts over Periscope if I am doing something instructional. I can use a presentation, a screen share, and so much more. Plus, I use it for interviews. Now when compared to Periscope, I can’t do all that …yet!

    However, I use Periscope almost every day to put a short message out there and meet new people. I limit my Periscope time to 10 to 15 minutes. Quite a different animal than HOA.

    I’ve used many different webinar systems, but I do prefer HOA because I do get more interest from people I’ve never met. Some go viral and friends of friends will pick it up.

    Yes, I do agree with you here that one of the reasons people shy away from Hangouts is that there is a learning curve involved. But this step-by-step guide will clear it up.


  • Nice looking blog. If I can get mine half as good as yours I will be doing good. Great valuable information. I for sure will be saving this to come back and read it all. It’s late here but I did want to tell you how much I have been enjoying your posts. Have a great night. David

  • Hi Donna,

    What an incredible post you have given us here on setting up Google Hangouts and putting them to use. I have been on hangouts but have never put one together to build my brand. I’m so excited. You have put this post together so everyone can understand it. I’ve seen you use it a few times before and wandered how you put it together and now I know.

    This guide is one that everyone can use and I thank you for that. All we have to do is follow the instructions and it is that simple.

    Thank you for sharing, Donna and you have a wonderful rest of the week!


    • Hi Linda,

      I find that many have seen me on Google+ Hangouts and some have asked me how I do it. It’s about time I can give a step-by-step guide so others can use it too.

      It is beneficial in so many ways from meeting new people that are interested in what we do, to even giving an offer to a product and/or service.

      Great to know that you have received some information from this post.


  • Hi Donna,

    Awesome, awesome, awesome post.

    Doing what you do best is the difference maker. It’s why all those pizza places in BK did and still do so well. People know Brooklyn as THE pizza borough. If ya get your recipe down pat, and stick to what you do best, you will succeed with your pizza shop, or with your online biz, or with anything. You have your niche down pat Donna and you definitely have G Plus down pat too. I did a few Hangouts when I was in Bali but tested the waters. They may be the way for me to go, as even with less than fab connections my Hangouts go off without issues while my Blab sessions are all messed up.

    Donna, thanks so much. Matt, thanks for allowing Donna to borrow your blog for a bit.


    • Hi Ryan,

      As Blab came into the picture for live streaming, it is good, but I too find that it doesn’t flow as well as HOA. Plus, when we work through Google, our chances of being seen are way better. Because Google wants us to use HOA, it does get us mentioned more on that first page that everyone wants to be on lol.

      I’ve seen it happening every time I do a hangout. People tell me they saw me on the first page of Google and why didn’t I tell them I was doing it. It always makes me laugh. It’s there to stay!

      What’s even better is that we can put it out to Youtube, and other social sites immediately and it works better than any other SEO method one dabbles in.

      Pure and simple!


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