B2B buying is becoming more “consumer-y.’
What does that mean? It means that when you’re selling in a B2B deal, it’s more personal than ever. It’s more important than ever to connect buyers with their peers and with individuals at vendors. People buy from people.
Earlier this month, we decided to host an online discussion about these changes. At first we thought about having a very traditional panel and webcast. Except then we thought about how little we actually enjoy doing that type of thing, and we decided to try something new.
For reasons that we shall now reveal, we realized that hosting a discussion in a Google+ Hangout On Air is a better way of communicating our ideas and best practices than a traditional webcast has ever been or will ever be.
5. It has technical benefits we can’t resist and you probably already know.
This article has a very cool infographic all about Google+ content strategies. In fact, here it is:
Check out numbers 25 through 32 in the “Hangouts’ section. Up to 10 people video chatting on a live stream, available to the public, recorded, emailed to you, and automatically uploaded to YouTube.
Can a traditional webcast do that? No. So why would we do a traditional webcast? Exactly.
4. It’s easier to watch.
Four close-ups is more intriguing than one long shot of a table. And much more intriguing than a slideshow.
Picture in your head the stereotypical panel discussion. You’re probably seeing a long table at the far end of a big conference room, filled with men and women dressed very well and sitting rapt at attention. You’re also probably a bit bored.
Next, picture the webcast of this panel discussion. Wait, stop! Wake up! We won’t even bother touching on the infamous “narrated Powerpoint as webcast’ besides including a static shot of this imaginary presentation:
As we’re sure you already know, Google+ Hangouts are literally much more in-your-face than those old-school webcasts. They move you from the back row of the audience to a seat at the table.
3. It’s dialogue instead of questions and answers.
It’s more conversational and better involves the audience.
The traditional webcast/panel format:
Moderator: “Panelist 1, what can you tell us about ‘this’?’
Panelist 1: “Well, Moderator, allow me to tell you a little about ‘this’ in a very long-winded answer that will hopefully cause everyone listening to me to zone out and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’
Moderator: “Thank you Panelist 1. Panelist 2, same question.’
Panelist 2: “Well, Moderator, I would agree with everything Panelist 1 said. I would only add a somewhat vaguely related anecdote that I’m sure most of you are not too interested to hear but since I don’t know what you want to hear and I’m not allowed or able to ask you I will tell this story anyway and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’
Moderator: “Thank you Panelist 2. Panelist 3?’
Panelist 3: “I agree with everything Panelist 1 and Panelist 2 said.’ *Everybody laughs* “Seriously though, why am I here?’
We now present, as an alternative and (we would say) improvement, a Google+ Hangout:
Tweeter 1: “Help me solve this problem my company has been struggling with! #ThingIReallyWantToKnow’
Expert 1: *Very insightful sentence.*
Expert 2: *Equally insightful alternative.*
Expert 3: *Extremely insightful follow-up question.*
Expert 1: *Unbeatably insightful answer.*
Tweeter 1: “Thank you I’m going to go do all of those things immediately #RealHelp’
Expert 2: *One more insightful thing.*
Moderator: “I’m sorry to cut you off but we have to move on! We have dozens of questions to get to!’
We love insight.
2. It’s more informal. People loosen up.
Let’s be real. People are more straightforward and revealing when they’re relaxed. Yes, webcasts and Hangouts are both groups of people talking. But that’s about where the similarities end.
To put it simply, webcast panels are Monday morning and our Google+ Hangout is casual Friday.
Webcast panels are formal. They feature people who have thought out almost exactly what they’re going to say. They may know the questions in advance. In many ways, they’re like board meetings.
Google+ Hangouts are much more informal. The participants are dressed casually, in the comfort of their own homes or offices. Because they’re at ease, they’re going to let their guards down a bit and provide everyone else with some information they wouldn’t necessarily reveal at a more formal event. And that means more value for everyone listening.
1. It lets the animal out of the cage.
We see no need to keep experts on the topic of discussion on a leash, spending over two-thirds of their time waiting to get in a word. The best panels have structures that break down. We’re starting with the structure already collapsed.
If you missed our Google+ Hangout with MIT innovation expert Michael Schrage, Influitive Founder & CEO Mark Organ (@markorgan), and Evergage Founder & CEO Karl Wirth (@wirthkarl), moderated by Explorics’ own CEO Brian Gladstein, you can watch it in its entirety right here: