The Bloggers Guide to Using Google+ Hangouts -Part one

If I had to pick one reason to love Google+ it would have to be all the amazing friends that I’ve made there, and that all comes from engagement!  One very important part of that engagement is Google+ Hangouts.   Whether you’re using the chat function or the video chat function, they  have brought communication to a whole new level by actually adding the social aspect back into social media.

My wife continues to use Apple’s Facetime with her friends, and while that was a great tool when it first came out on the market, Google Hangouts has seriously left Facetime in the dust.  The problem is people get use to the same old thing and resist change ( kind of the Facebook Strategy), and getting them to join the revolution with the newest innovation in social media is not always an easy task….sigh

Trust me when I tell you, that I still have the same conversation with food bloggers I’ve known for years about why they need to be on Google+, its no longer optional, it’s now become mandatory to your success.  Unless of course you don’t like having people read your blog!

Since we’ve been talking about Google+ and how important it is to your success,  I’d also like to mention that it should be fun.  If you’re not enjoying your time on Google+ its possible that you’re just not using it properly, and getting the most of its robust platform.

So lets talk about my favorite part of Google+ Hangouts.

There are really 3 types of hangouts that you can use on Google+, as well as YouTube Live and HOA via YouTube.  I’ll cover them all as well as the added bonus to hangouts of Events.  Lets start with the very basic first which is the Chat option of Google Hangouts.

Google Hangout Chat

Hangout Tool

Click on the + at the top of the Hangout window and add a name in the box-  and you can start typing your message.  Send a pic, or send a link

Google Hangout chat

This is where you’d go to initiate a real time chat with someone logged into G+.  This is often a more effective way to send messages to your friends on G+.  Notifications can sometimes get lost when you send private messages.  These messages stay in the right sidebar of the hangout function unless physically removed.

To start a video chat click on the camera in the left top corner of your text chat in the image above and it becomes a video chat  or  click on the Green Start a Video Hangout as displayed in the box below to initiate a Video Chat.  You can have up to 10 people (including yourself) in this video chat.

Google Hangout Video Chat

Google Hangouts video chat


Google Hangout on Air (HOA)

Google Hangouts on Air are commonly referred to as HOA’s,  and these are the hangouts that are recorded and can be viewed by the public when you record them.   After you’re done with the live event, you can go to your youtube channel and mark the video private but anyone that happens to stumble across it while your recording it can view the video as its being streamed live.   But if you don’t invite the Public when you initiate the HOA, there’s a good chance no one or very few people will see the video.

The beauty of an HOA is that it automagically makes a YouTube Video for you and deposits in the YouTube account associated with the profile that initiated the Hangout.  That being said Personal Profiles are the best way to start HOA’s.   You can start an HOA as a brand page but there are some problems associated with that process.

When Starting an HOA or participating as a Guest in an HOA these are the rules you always want to remember.

1.  Always shut down your computer (and walk away from it for a few minutes) immediately before you log in to join an HOA.  Problems can arise from all the clutter that has accumulated in the background of your system, a clean startup helps eliminate possible issues.

2.  Always hard wire to your router, do not use Wifi!  You’re only asking for problems on Wifi, even if you’ve got amazing bandwidth that one time you really need it to be perfect it won’t be.   Don’t tempt fate hard wire to your router!  I’ve gone as far as to run a 50′ cable down the hall to were my laptop is.

3.  If you’re using a PC, you will need earbuds or a headphone for the HOA.  If you do not use them there will be an echo and it will be very hard to hear the recorded HOA and it will also drive the others in the HOA crazy.  Macs don’t seem to have the issues, but its still a good idea to keep some earbuds handy.

4.  Keep all unnecessary windows closed, do not see how many things you can do at one time.   Only your HOA window and your profile or the profile of the person inviting you into the HOA should be open.

The originators profile page is the back door into the hangout or back into the hangout if your accidently dropped or lose the connection.

5.  Go to the bathroom before you start and keep a bottle of water handy.

6.  If you make any noise at all (and this includes typing), or there’s background noise mute  yourself .   You can always tell where the noise is coming from by the little green dots that appear at the bottom of each persons thumbnail in the HOA.

7.  Start your hangout 30 minutes prior to the start time so you can set up and get comfortable.  Invite your guests into the green room 15 minutes before the start of the HOA to make sure they are comfortable, have their earbuds and lower thirds set up.

8.  Practice, Practice, Practice before you actually go on.

If you have never been in or initiated a Hangout or HOA, you will have to add in the app to initiate the Hangout, you will need to say yes you agree to the terms to continue.

How to Start an HOA-

in the left sidebar of any Google+ page is a tab for Hangouts ( the Green Parentheses in the bubble)

Google+ hangout tab

That will take you to this page, where you will click on the Blue Box with Start a Hangout On Air


This will bring this box up-


You will fill in the information as described in the image below.  Your  event title, event descriptions, event date & time, and make sure to always invite Public and any communities that allow the posting when you initially set up the HOA.

After its set up you cannot make it Public or invite communities

Hangout 2_edited-1

If you’re event is starting immediately click Now,  If not click Later to schedule the day and time of the event.

hangout 3_edited-1

Clicking on the boxes will bring up a calendar and times to choose from.  You do not have to put an end time in.

hangout 4_edited-1

When filling in your event description don’t forget to add hashtags.  Once all of the information has been included, the time and day scheduled, Public and Communities invited, you may hit Share.

hangout 5_edited-1

That will bring us to this page after the HOA has loaded.  Now you need to click on the little drop down arrow and then click on the Edit Event tab.  This will allow you to add in a Banner for the Event.  Banners must be 1200 x 300 dpi

hangout 6_edited-1

When you click Edit Event this page will come and allow you to add in a custom banner or one of the stock banners by clicking on Change Theme

hangout 7_edited-1

When you’ve added in your banner image, click on save

hangout 8_edited-1 - Copy

One of the great features of the New HOA setup is that it allows you to add in a custom trailer for your HOA and at the time of the actual event it automagically switches to the live broadcast for you.  You can make a trailer using the HOA format we just went through not inviting the public, or YouTube Live.  Then Click on Trailer and add the YouTube url for your trailer.

hangout 10_edited-1

To invite people to your HOA, click on the Invite Button and invite those that you think would enjoy your HOA, or that have asked to be included in your invitation list.

This can be an issue with some plussers, so don’t blindly invite everyone, you may find yourself reported as a spammer or blocked.

The number of people you can invite at one time seems to vary depending upon the number of people you have following you.  This is something that you’ll have to test through trial and error.

hangout 11_edited-1

You’ve done everything that you were supposed to do, and now its show time.  Click on the Blue Start button.   Don’t worry it doesn’t automatically start the HOA, it just takes you to the page that has the actual Green Start Button.

hangout 12_edited-1

This is the screen you’ll get when the HOA opens up and it will not go live until you click on the Green Start Broadcast Button.

While we’re here lets look at the top of the page directly over my head.

The first item on the black bar is a person, clicking on that allows you to invite more people into the HOA.

The Second Item is a Microphone, clicking on it turns it red and mutes you, clicking again unmutes you.

The next item is a camera, clicking on it brings up your icon, killing the live view.  Clicking again brings the live pic back.

The next item is a the bandwidth adjustment tool.  If you or your guest is has a choppy or sluggish picture or if the sound is not good, try clicking back one or two tabs, this may help in the quality of sound or picture.

The next item is the gear that allows you to select your camera, microphone, speakers and test your sound.  If you are using an external camera,  microphone, or speakers you will need to set it to the correct option

The last item is a red phone which hangs up the HOA and closes out the window.


The inside of the HOA provides some very helpful items that will appear on the left sidebar when you hover on that side – everyones favorite is the Hangout Toolbox that gives us lower thirds.  If its not visible click on the three little dots under the items to see if its available

When ever you add these apps to the HOA you need to agree to the terms for each app the first time you use them.  After agreeing to the Hangout Toolbox the sidebar on the right side appears.  The very first item directly underneath the toolbox icon (lunch pail) is an outline of a head in a circle, this is lower thirds.  Click on it.

It will open up to look as presented in the image below.  The first line is filled with your name, you may add your website or what ever you choose on the second line. Your profile image will be your logo, you can add a custom logo.  You can also pick a custom color (default is blue) from the color chart or upload a custom banner of you’re talented enough to make one in photoshop.

Once its all filled out click on the toggle that is grey and off to blue and on.  Now you can save your lower thirds as a preset by giving it a name and clicking save.  This way you won’t have to fill it out each time you use it, and you can add different presets for different events.

Hangout Toolbox

The next item that is helpful is the comment tracker, or the Green Double Bubble as Ronnie Bincer likes to call it.

This is a little trickier to set up, and requires that you find the first public reshare of your event and copy the link to that post.

As an example, you set your event up on Monday for Friday.  On Wednesday you reshare the event from your profile page, this is the first public reshare of your event.   You can reshare it as many times as you like after that but the first time you reshare is where you need to look for the link to add into the box above the Youtube link that is already there.

comment tracker

Click on the little arrow in the drop down menu to find Link to post

link to post

This is where you find the link, copy and paste to the box above the  youtube link in the comment tracker

link to post 2

Once you’ve added the link it will appear above the YouTube link.   Click on the little three prong share tool in the link added and it will pull in any other shares that may have been made along with the comments.

CC 3

When you’ve clicked on the share tool it brings in the other links, click on the shared tab and click share sources and add all

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Then click on the Stream to see your comments.  The colours indicate different shares of the post.  Youtube comments will also appear on this stream.


If you’d like to bring a comment to the screen during your show, click on the eyeball that is visible in the lower right hand corner of the comment when you hover.  Simply click it again to take it off the screen.  This is a nice way to shout out your attendees, as well as place questions on the screen for you or your guests to answer.  This is a great way to encourage engagement !

The trash can icon removes the comment, and the pin saves comments to the top of the stream to answer when theres a break in the conversation.


The blue camera icon in the left sidebar allows you to take pictures of your guest during the hangout.  When you click on the blue camera icon it will appear at the bottom of the screen, clicking on it there will take pictures and save them to your profile.  You must turn off the camera by clicking on the icon in the left sidebar in order to get back the Red Stop Broadcast button !


The other app you might have fun with is the Google Effects ( a gold box with a wand)  it allows you to add funny hats, facial hair, add sounds and backgrounds.  Go through the different pages to see what you can add.  My favorite is the blur tool on the experimental background page.  It allows you to blur your background making you more of the focal point in the HOA.  Its a nice tool to use if you have a busy background.


The Chat app allows you to send messages to the other people in the HOA without the viewers seeing them.  When a message is sent and you have the comment tracker on, a notification appears so you can open the chat box.  You can only have one app open at a time.


Those are the most important apps, you can check out the others and see if you like them.

And last but not least, shutting down your event –  Click on the Red Stop Broadcast Button to end your HOA.

Everything you say or do before you click the Start broadcast button and after you hit the End broadcast button is off the record, so enjoy your time in the green room before and after the show.  Thats for you and your guests only, and not recorded or viewed by the public.


There’s more to share on YouTube Live, Events, and the Back door to starting HOA’s but that will be in Part 2 of my Google Hangouts Posts.  The important thing is not to worry so much about perfection,  this is live TV and things will happen.  Its how you act and recover when those things happen that will make you successful or a failure.

One thing to remember about HOA’s is that eventually anything that can possibly happen will happen, and its happened to all of us.  Thats just the wonderful world of G+ HOA’s.     So as Nike would say, Just Do it!

Of course if you really want to become a Hangout Expert, you need to sign up for Ronnie Bincer’s Hangout  Mastery Community.  Ronnie has taken the hard work out of HOA’s by learning everything there is to know about them and keeping us up to date with all the changes.  Most of us wouldn’t be successful at HOA’s if it wasn’t for Ronnie Bincer..  Click on the Hangout Mastery Link to learn more!

The Bloggers Guide to Using Google+ Hangouts - Part one


  1. Thank you for a concise and precise summary on Hangouts! Forwarded to Elisabetta since she is just starting to join me on this wonderful path! Grazie!!!!

  2. Hi Chef. Beautiful… Step-by-Step and the clarity is breathtaking. It’s live TV. Anything can happen. Use this guide as a how to and just get started, have fun, and enjoy the ride.

  3. WOW! Great details, Chef! I’ve participated in small hangouts, but need to get cracking on hosting some big ones! Thank you for all of your terrific advice.

  4. This is a terrific tutorial along with all the benefits of using G+. I’m sorry that my schedule has taken over leaving me almost no time to join in some of the great interaction. I’ll certainly look forward to the day when I’ll have more free time to participate.

    Thanks so much Chef for taking this to the forefront and being so helpful to bloggers.


  5. Hi Ronnie. I have run a Hangout on my W7 laptop, but on my XP SR3 machine I can NOT install the app. It downloads fine, but I ALWAYS get a 1603 error that ends the installation attempt. I’m baffled and mystified, and have no clue how to overcome this problem. Any ideas?
    Thanks in advance.

    • hi Joe

      that would be a question for the master Ronnie Bincer, you might want to check out the link in the bottom of the post for his mastery group and contact him through there.


  6. Hi Chef Dennis,
    I plan to start using HOA very soon, and find this information very helpful. Ihave not been very successful gaining followers on G+, but would like to increase traffic this way. I’m sure your insights will prove useful.
    Thanks for being here!


  1. […] Part One of The Bloggers Guide to Using Google+ Hangouts I reviewed how to set up a Hangout on Air and all the steps involved to creating it correctly.   I […]

  2. […] covered the procedures for using  hangout chats, hangout video chats, and Hangouts on Air in The Bloggers Guide to Using Google+ Hangouts – Part one.   And in Part two of  The Bloggers Guide to Using Google+ Hangouts  I went over How to set up […]

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