One of the many powerful features of Google Plus is the event tool which can be integrated with a live Hangout on Air (HoA) for a one-stop, interactive experience.
Although you don’t have to hold a HoA to create an event page nor does a HoA have to be shared via an event page, these two parts are often combined into a slick vehicle for building community and promoting a brand. To learn how to use the event page as a HoA host, see this amazing video by Ronnie Bincer. (Better yet, join his [affiliate link] Hangout Mastery course. I spent three months inside the group to gain proficiency with hangouts. It cut my learning curve considerably and was well worth the investment.)
But what about when you are on the outside of an event watching live? As an attendee of a G+ Hangout on Air, it is important to know the proper behavior for interacting on an event page.
Different people will have varying opinions on what is acceptable, so your best guide is to use common sense and watch how others, especially respected leaders, act at the particular event you are attending. With that caveat in mind, here are my recommendations of proper hangout event page etiquette.
If you receive an invitation to an event, there is no expectation that you will respond via comment. Selecting Yes, Maybe, or No is adequate. Expressing your excitement about the upcoming event through a comment is always nice for a host to see but is certainly not required.
It is not rude to choose no if you know you cannot attend and do not want to watch the video. But if you consistently say no, the event organizer may stop inviting you.
Think of your Yes, Maybe or No as expressing interest more than RSVPing. After all, the host of a G+ HoA doesn’t have to make extra hors d’oeuvres for you.
Go ahead and indicate Yes or Maybe if you are interested in the content even if you are unsure if time or circumstances will allow you to attend live. The host knows that circumstances change, and saying Yes can also indicate that you want to add the event to your event page to watch later.
If you repeatedly receive unwanted invitations from a particular host, you should let the host know. Most hosts do not want to trouble you and are happy to remove you from the circle they are inviting to events. Asking to be removed through a private share is preferred to doing it publicly on the event page.
It is polite and appreciated for event attendees to thank the host for arranging the event and for sharing quality information. Being specific in your praise is always better than a more generic “Great job, guys!”
Leaving positive feedback lets the host and panelists know that you were watching and valued their presentation. Everyone loves being praised and appreciated. No one want to hold a live event and see a dead event page without any evidence of spectators. Positive interaction is always appropriate.
In the case of a sponsored hangout, your comment is especially welcome since it demonstrates to the sponsor just how many people were reached through the event.
Comments during an event can serve as virtual applause or laughter when you hear something particularly brilliant or funny. But since they are separated from the audio and video of the event, it is a good idea to both tag the person you are applauding and briefly rephrase what you are agreeing with. Most comments are not seen by the panelists during the event, but they will probably follow up afterwards. Make it easy for them to converse with you by offering a bit of context.
Although you wouldn’t want to ignore the hangout and go on a tangent of your own, it’s fine to chat with the other event viewers by tagging them in your comments. Since the event page comments are not threaded, make sure your own response has the necessary context to make sense.
Comments should always be relevant to the topic at hand and never be used as a platform for self-promotion. No matter how tempting it is, do not share your site or blog links unless you personally know the host and are positive he would appreciate it.
The same goes for images. Never add an image to an event page unless you have been explicitly invited by the host to do so. That kind of behavior is generally reserved for the host and panelists, but in some circumstances a HoA host may welcome your relevant images. Read the event details carefully and ask via comment on the event page if you are unsure.
Leaving questions about the HoA topic on the event page before and during is welcomed by hangout hosts. If left before the event, questions may help hosts organize their presentation to meet the needs of the audience. And clarification questions during the event are very motivating to the panel assuming that you are not asking a question that was already answered.
If you want your question to appear on the screen via the comment tracker or Q&A app, remember to be concise. Longer questions show up either very tiny or truncated on the screen. Some hangout hosts may prefer to show more questions that fit nicely on the screen in a legible font size.
Questions about the logistics of the event are normally the result of not reading the event details carefully. Although your hosts want you to understand how to use the event page, realize that they are busy creating valuable content and shouldn’t have to restate the facts that are listed in the right-hand column under details. Expand that section by clicking Read more, and be sure you have looked for your answer before you ask about the time of the event or how to watch it on a mobile device.
Sharing & Inviting Etiquette
Feel free to invite others to the event if you see that function enabled. (You will see an Invite more button in the guest section.) However, make sure that the people or circle that you invite is likely to be interested in the event.
A less intrusive way to spread the word is to share the event publicly so that those who have you in circles will be able to see it. The people who are interested can act by responding to the event.
Remember that when you invite someone to an event or share to a circle, a notification is created under the red bell (AKA Mr. Jingles). If your invite or share is not appealing to the recipient, you might be considered a spammer. And even worse, you may unintentionally tarnish the reputation of the event host.
It is better to share conservatively and reach people sure to be interested than to share broadly and annoy. Use discretion.
Events are a great way to connect with others who have similar interests. Before the event, circle the hosts and panelists. During and after the event, circle people who make meaningful comments or ask insightful questions.
I’d love to know what you would add to this post about event etiquette. So feel free to leave a comment below.
This post would not have been possible without the input from my fellow members of the Hangout Mastery community on G+, a private group for those in Ronnie Bincer’s membership site. Special thanks to +Lowell Ann Fuglsang, +Irene Brody, +Jean Layton, and of course +Ronnie Bincer himself.