What we learned from a Google+ Hangout on Air, QR codes, and bitcoins

What we learned from a Google+ Hangout on Air, QR codes, and bitcoins
Last night
We sat in front of a webcam, ate some cheese, and live-streamed a plea to get funds via QR code.  We were inspired by an article that regarding a bitcoin user setting up a QR code on a placard, and holding it up ESPN to receive funds. We were intrigued by the idea, and wanted to set up a scenario where an impromptu live-stream could replicate the same experience.
The preparation
There wasn’t much preparation at all. We fashioned together a Reddit article, Tweeted about what was going on, and did a Facebook post.

 

What happened
Essentially, not much! We kept our social feeds and bitcoin account open to watch, but there was very little engagement. We started at 11pm, and thought that maybe that would help things get picked up by the US, but the main interest came from curious friends who were still awake on my Facebook. We gave them shout-outs and laughed along.

QR_code_exp

The offending code in question
Learnings
If we were going to do a similar execution in the future, there were a few learnings that we thought we’d share:

  • QR code was hard to scan – over the quality of the stream, it was hard for people to scan the code, finding a way of getting a higher-res shot of the code is critical. We noticed this happened with the ESPN stunt as well.
  • Relatively pain-free to set up – we were actually impressed by flawless the Hangouts On Air experience was, it was very easy to set a live-stream live, and at the “peak” there were 3 cumulative streams taking place
  • Google+ promotes it heavily – there was lots of additional promotion via Google+ to our followers, which is significant if we had an existing network of followers to see the stream

hangouts

With the event feature, Q&A feature, and the livestream, there was actually quite a lot of attention-grabbing to my followers
  • Some genuine questions/curiosity from my network – we were surprised that some of our buddies tuned in, and we even scored a share from one of my friends in Singapore – if you’re willing to experiment with this sort of stuff the novelty of it will earn some credibility
  • Disappointing response on Reddit – we don’t use the platform regularly for posting, and thought it might have got some interest, but perhaps the timing was off.
  • It was still hard to divine what’s going on – adding a short URL call-to-action next to the QR code would have been easy, and helped any newcomers who were viewing the content get a sense of what was going on – it was still a bit confusing unless you’d seen the initial explanation

explanation_QR

A link to an explanation would have helped newcomers
Overall
An interesting experiment, and the beauty of this test and learn approach is that it cost us nothing to execute. At HackDigital.net we’re very interested in exploiting these kinds of technologies, and will continue to share our learnings via this blog.