by Katherine Kotaw
Google Hangouts on Air is both the greatest — and worst — gift the geniuses in Mountain View, CA ever bestowed on us.
Sure Gmail and Google Search are nice, but they’re sort of like getting socks for your birthday. We need — and rely — on them, but we don’t send Grandma heartfelt thank you notes for argyles.
But Hangouts on Air — HOAs — are like getting an electric train set — or a Harley. HOAs make us feel like the coolest kid on the block.
And that’s a problem.
Put a Pin in it, Fonzi
When it comes to personal branding, feeling cool can be a very dangerous thing. Particularly when the product of your inflated ego is broadcast to the entire world.
HOAs essentially give everyone the opportunity to be an online video star. You could easily spend tens of thousands of dollars to produce and air a local TV commercial and a half million or more to put a 30-second spot on a prime time show.
Pay it Again, Sam
But anyone with a webcam and an Internet connection can reach a worldwide audience for free. Unfortunately, Google’s gratis broadcasting platform comes with a hidden cost: your brand reputation.
HOAs provide a remarkable marketing opportunity for people with talent, poise and — most important — something of value to say. They’re also a vehicle for people to prove themselves vain, insipid or boring.
Say no to HOAs if you suffer from any of these complexes:
1. The Star Complex
Having the equipment to broadcast to the universe doesn’t make anyone Ellen Degeneres, Conan O’Brian or even Ted Baxter. Some people seem to forget that talent and preparation are more important than your ability to hit the “Start a Hangout on Air” icon on your laptop.
The marketing purpose of a HOA is to showcase your strengths and to endear yourself to your target audience.
Keep those long-term goals — and not a fleeting moment of self-importance — in mind when deciding if hosting or appearing as a guest on a HOA is right for you.
2. The Cheerleader Complex
Cheerleaders are the wannabe stars who think they’ll achieve popularity if they court, promote and bow down to the “right people”.
They don’t care what their guests have to say — certainly don’t care if the guests are relevant to their show — only if the guests have x number of followers and have appeared on everyone else’s HOA already.
But here’s the thing: Cheerleaders don’t become quarterbacks — or even bench warmers. They never make the team.
Choose interesting guests and help turn them — and yourself — into stars. Don’t make your HOA a showcase for social media celebrities — unless their authority is pertinent to your business goals.
3. The Navel-Gazing Complex
Some HOA hosts invite 2, 4 or 6 guests to appear on their show and then devote 90 percent of their air time discussing personal issues that are neither on topic nor entertaining.
They just whine on and on and on, turning their guests into hostages who, for the sake of their professional reputations, must feign interest in their host’s marital woes or diet disasters.
Purposeful personal anecdotes are powerful. Connect a story to your message and the message will stick. It’s OK — better than OK — to talk about people and events in your life if the stories illustrate a business concept.
But if you’re telling a story to elicit sympathy or attention, stop. Share those woe-is-me moments with a friend or therapist, not with potential clients or customers.
Show Me the Money, Jerry
There is a certain charming casualness to Google Hangouts on Air. But that doesn’t mean you should let it all hang out in front of the world.
Treat HOAs with the seriousness you’d give to any business decision. Ask yourself, “Will doing a HOA put money in my bank account or egg on my face?”
Make the choice that’s right for your personal brand. That’s what the really cool kids do.
Katherine Kotaw — Branding Strategist and Storyteller, KOTAW Content Marketing, Los Angeles, CA
Meet Katherine, a song lyric mangling, dog loving, iced tea guzzling CEO and entrepreneur who’s inspired by the words of Dr. Seuss, the spunkiness of Mary Tyler Moore, and the wardrobe of That Girl’s Ann Marie.
Katherine is the founder, spirit and Chief Storyteller of KOTAW Content Marketing, a Los Angeles-headquartered international boutique digital marketing company specializing in branding through storytelling.
KOTAW is Katherine’s passion project, the culmination of over 20 years’ experience in journalism, marketing, and business.
KOTAW was built from the treasured memories, lessons, experiences and stories collected by Katherine throughout her professional career, which has included an apprenticeship with advertising legend Steve Frankfurt, covering the Olympics as a reporter, writing two New York Times acclaimed books — one, a best-selling business parable, the other a memoir recently adapted for the silver screen and greenlit for Fall 2014 production.
Fueled by dark chocolate almond clusters (by the fist-full) and an unwavering lifelong passion for words, Katherine spends her days and nights creating marketing and branding magic for individuals and companies through the power of storytelling.
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