It’s no secret: I love Google+ Hangouts. They’re effective, innovative, engaging and fun.
I actually feel the way about this technology today, as I did about Twitter back in the early days of WPS (2008) when we needed a way to share our player allocation and subsequent draft. The technology and opportunity Twitter presented seemed like the perfect way for us to share these events in real-time. The naysayers said, “It’s useless, you have no followers.” But my team and I persisted. Within a year, we were speaking to an audience of 250,000 followers and engaging with fans on a level that was never possible before.
Today, as the internet has evolved from real-time text, to real-time photos (cough, instagram) and videos (ahem, vine anybody?), I think the Google+ platform fills a niche where people with great things to say and content to share can come together both virtually and publicly and do just that. Like Twitter offered an entry point into real-time communications for the 2008 world, I think Google+ Hangouts offer useful and unique real-time technology for today.
My co-workers use Google+ Hangouts for private work meetings, our Digital team uses Google+ Hangouts on Air to heighten the conversation at key moments, and our clubs are using them to bring their players direct to their fans. Here are just a couple recent examples:
- 3/1/13 – Google+ Hangout on Air with 2012 MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
- 2/6/13 – Honduras vs. USA Google+ Hangout on Air with Alexi Lalas, Greg Lalas, Jimmy Conrad and Rob Stone (KICK TV)
- 1/25/13 – Google+ Hangout on Air with Bobby Boswell (Houston Dynamo)
- 11/30/12 – Google+ Hangout on Air with MLS Cup Goalkeeper, Houston Dyanamo’s Tally Hall (MLSsoccer.com)
- 9/21/12 – 24 Under 24 Google+ Hangout on Air with Darren Mattocks and CJ Sapong (MLSsoccer.com)
A year ago, naysayers told me, “Google+ will fail. Nobody uses it.” Yet my coworkers and I persisted. Today, it continues to grow, and we’re now over 1 million circlers strong. And because of the investments we’ve made in time, staffing and innovation, we’ve also earned the trust and support of our platform partners.
On Wednesday this week, we hosted Commissioner Garber’s 2013 March to Soccer Address and media availability via a live stream on the MLS YouTube Channel. Watch it here:
The Commissioner spoke for about 20 minutes about the “state of the league,” then took questions from fans and journalists through a Google+ Hangout – on everything from expansion, to the schedule, to TV ratings. The event took place at Google’s New York City office (thank you Google!), was streamed live on the MLS YouTube Channel (thank you YouTube!), the MLS Google+ page (thank you Google+!), and MLSsoccer.com (way to go MLS Digital team!).
With this event, Commissioner Garber became the first commissioner of a major sports league to address media and fans via a live Google+ Hangout (way to go MLS PR team!). Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
For the fans, this event marked the beginning of the 2013 season. But for me, it was another great example of Major League Soccer truly embracing the evolution of media and the digital age. I love that we don’t do things the way we’ve always done “just because,” but instead we try new ways of moving the game forward for our tech-savvy fans.
I’m energized by our Commissioner and executive team, because they believe in innovation, and I’m humbled by my incredible coworkers who continue to push the envelope with new technology day in and day out.