Community hangout – lessons learned from the experiment

Anna Kuliberda's picture

Last week Net2 Local organizers community participated in the very first Google + Hangout. Local innovators gathered to experiment with the (not so much) new Google tool.

Lesson #1 – if you want to experiment – do it openly, it is more fun and you can learn much more

Overall, the experiment was a very good experience, mostly because we did it together - community members from Adelaide, Manchester, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Tokyo, Singapore and Warsaw. There are few things we can examine together in real time, being able to see each other at the same time. The experimental hangout was announced on the Net2 Local organizers Google list in order to keep it inside the community, but also open – anybody from the community could join any time. There was no schedule, except the “opening hour”. We had surprise show ups from Vancouver and Tokyo but also very devoted group to try out every possible g+ hangout app almost for the entire hour. Now we all know that it works on ipads (but they don’t show the chat bar) and that one can wear fake pirate hat during all the meeting. However, there is no more cat face app anymore. 

print screen on Net2 hangout

Lesson #2 – Know who to invite and keep them in a circle

One of the problems I didn’t think about was that a hangout can be open to all the people from your circles. It means that you need to have them in a circle before you start a hangout. If you want to hang out with people who are not yet in any of your circles, make sure you have easy access either to their e-mails or to their g+ accounts. I got stuck for 10 min trying to invite people to private chat and finding their e-mails. It would be easier to have all the addresses on the list or a circle ready to be used.
I tried to bypass this by opening the meeting completely and doing it as a “public” one, but it finished with a social disaster and awkwardness when the meeting was joined by 3 strangers who just kept on staring at me plus one guy who kept on singing (aloud) disturbing the meeting (and yes, you can mute somebody and yes, you can block somebody too – it is a very useful tool)

Lesson #3 – Experiment together

If you do it for the first time and most of the attendees are not familiar with it as well, put aside some time to experiment with it and with all the apps too. There is nothing but benefits here. You as the organizer will feel safer, because you get some more time to manage the tool while everybody’s having fun. And at the end, we all feel safer using all the shiny and playful new toys.

Have you got any experiences with Google+ Hangout tool? Do you have any more tips? Any special “how to” ingredients or methods? Please share it in the comments.

I want also to thank to my dear beta testers: Ben, Steven, Aseem, Seth, Elijah and Ichi.

We will come back to the Hangouts soon, so stay tuned!