Google Hangouts changing the old school Webinar!


Most of us are aware of how webinars work. Interested people sign up, and login through a special URL, at the designated date and time. On the particular day and time, login through a special URL and call a special conference call number.  The presenter usually shares his desktop using online service platforms for webinars and then displays the PowerPoint presentation…and starts the power point lecture
However, webinars are changing; Google+ is the sleeping giant of social media networks. It’s now boasting close to 400 million users and its effects on SEO are growing on each passing day. Add in the ability to hangout virtually with anyone across the word and broadcast it live, and it’s quickly becoming an essential tool for the modern marketer.
Instead of just sharing the PowerPoint, you can talk directly to the audience in addition to showing slides. The biggest benefit to this service is that it’s free.  Other web presentation services offer similar video capabilities but you have to subscribe to them. Google+ Hangouts on Air has its challenges but it works.  And it will change how webinars are done forever as it is broadcast of a video chat service where an unlimited number of people can join your conference for free. Also, it’s available on Youtube.
Cashing on the opportunity, Bajaj Allianz, a leading insurance company thought of communicating with customers and reaching out to the public, through a hangout – Demystify Insurance Google+ Hangout. It was a series aimed at building brand awareness and inviting a healthy discussion directly between the customers/audience and the top management of the company.
With this in mind, they held four Google+ Hangouts with the overarching theme of explaining the finer points of various insurance policies, their benefits, and ways to manage them for steady protection. Each Hangout was hosted by a panel of experts, who fielded live questions on matters related to insurance and safety, from customers and non-customers alike. To increase real-time reach and social connect, live chats and broadcasts were held simultaneously on Twitter and Facebook as well, so that users could check in while on the go. Viewers also tweeted their queries/ideas while watching the Hangout, and these were then were answered live alongside the hangout. This helped them increase social engagement and word-of-mouth publicity for the brand.
Since the commencement of these Hangouts, participation and viewership increased by 180 per cent. Their reach on Twitter extended as far as 1.3 lakh users, and they have observed a steady increase in purchasing interest of their products.
It is quite evident that brands are now fast realising the efficacy of the digital medium and social media in particular. While facebook continues to lead in the social media space, it is interesting to note the way brands are leveraging other mediums – such as mobile and video to reach out to prospective customers. Social Media in India continues to evolve as a mature digital medium. Besides connecting various people in a friendly setting, it is continuing to evolve as a core component of a digital advertiser’s budget.
It is worth mentioning here that even though traditional media like television and newspapers still remain the preferred media for seeking information and entertainment and hog more than 80% of the advertising market in India, the Internet has been steadily increasing its share of the advertising pie. Spends on digital media have steadily increased from just over 1 percent of total Indian advertising spend in the year 2005 to nearly 7 % in 2012. (Source: This Year, Next year-Worldwide media & marketing forecasts, Summer 2012; GroupM).


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“Thinking Aloud” reflects the emerging trends and varied outlook of the rapidly evolving internet and communication sector. An IAMAI publication, this is a part of the market education initiative of the association.

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