Q1. Who’s the Hangout Queen? Who is Deborah? I consider you a modern-day Renaissance woman so I figure I’ll start with a toughie!
Wow. That is a tough one to answer. Like I tell many people, “Deborah wears many hats.” I used to keep all of the different facets of Deborah separate, to prevent confusion, but these days, I pretty much combine all of the business, internet, social media, technology, video producer side of me into the “Deborah Anderson” profile and the musician, humanitarian, and even my psychology degree into the “Deborah E” profile. Fortunately, more and more people are learning that the two people really are one person with a lot of experience in many areas. The HangoutQueen idea came from the fact that my husband and I own a sound and video studio. The sound studio is where the “Deborah E Albumette” album was mastered in Los Angeles. My husband is also a trained, experienced, professional photographer, so adding the video studio, with all of the green screens, backdrops, lighting, etc. was a piece of cake for us. I was hosting and running and coaching at least three hangouts a week, back when many people hadn’t even heard of Google+ hangouts. I became the “go to” person, behind the scenes, for many people and decided to create the brand for training people who want to take their hangouts to “the next level.” Hence, HangoutQueen was born.
Q2. Nice, but I know you gave the abridged answer of who you are and your talents. Anyhoo, it was cool meeting you in person in New York City at #AWXI. Would you tell the readers about your stint in New York?
My HangoutQueen training and coaching took off and was booming in 2013 and I decided to take that experience and contribute it to Internet Marketing Ninjas, in New York. My entire 2014 was spent there, in upstate New York. In fact, in a couple of the podcasts (and accompanying videos) of the iHeart Radio Marketing Momentum show, you can hear me talk about how much Internet Marketing Ninjas would benefit by having their own show, recording from Google Hangouts.
[Alex interrupts] And did they? Occasionally I’ll see Internet Marketing Ninjas’ G+ posts on my firehose feed, but other than that, I’m not super familiar with any of their experiments on YouTube or whatever.
I really thought that Jim Boykin, from Internet Marketing Ninjas, hired me to start what I had challenged him to do. I had suggested the “Internet Marketing Ninjas Show” on those two iHeart Radio MM episodes. I thought that was what caught his attention to hire me. Instead, there was a gap in project management at IMN and I started the Project Management Office for the ninjas and did not actually contribute my Hangout Queen skills to them at all. See what I mean about those many hats sometimes getting confusing?
[Alex interrupts] Yes, it’s always tricky for a multi-faceted person. There’s a saying that the greatest distance between two people is misunderstanding. Or something to that effect. I saw that on Instagram and I think it’s even “more true” for multi-talented people.
Q3. So you know I’m familiar with most of the faces around G+. I’d love for you to talk about what’s different and what sets you apart, y’know, compared to other G+ experts.
The key things that set Michael (my husband and partner) apart from other experts is our sound experience and Michael’s lighting experience. One of the key things for our hangouts is the quality. We also started a trend of having set-up calls for all of our interviews and shows (and casual hangouts) by giving advice to the Hangout participants on what they could do to improve their sound and lighting quality. Michael has a gift of being able to find household tips to help our participants so they don’t need to go out and spend money. Of course, when our participants do ask for tips on what they could purchase, he is always ready with an answer that fits their budget. Obviously, for the hangouts that involve a come-as-you-are feel, where people just show up, the set-up portion is not always an option. However, even with those, we open our hangouts 15-30 minutes early and invite people to come in and get free advice from Michael, before we go live. I don’t think they realize what a value that is! But, that is okay, because it is about helping people and not tooting our own horn. This also helps people feel at ease as Michael also provides help on how to use the Google platform. He acts as the “answer man” during that time in what we call the “green room.” People have been so impressed by how we do this that they actually have been known to copy, verbatim, the verbiage on our green room page, to use for their own hangouts.
[Alex interrupts] And how did you feel about that?
Well, I contacted the person and asked her about it and she told me she assumed it was “fair game.” In a way, I was very flattered, but it also bothered me quite a bit because of the creativity and original ideas in that post. I get that copying saves time, and it tempts our weaker side, but bottom line, it’s still unethical and can hurt people. Anyway, it’s history. It’s just one of those things. I learned to be a bit more communicative about that type of thing and I also used it as an opportunity to demonstrate where imitation is a form of flattery.
Q4. What challenges have you found, with being the “Hangout Queen”?
The biggest challenge I have found is that I am not technically a “bragger.” In other words, our quality for our products and services are actually so much higher than the web norm, that many people do not realize it, and because I do not go around bragging about it, it goes unnoticed. Those that have experienced it generally see that difference. As with all things, there are many experts out there and it is a “fake it until you make it” world in social media marketing. That isn’t necessarily all bad, either. However, for our brand, we really are the real thing.
[Alex interrupts] Well, considering your brand and the nature of video, it totally has to be the real thing.
True, true, but the authenticity discussion is beyond over-used, already. To me, we keep offering the quality and those who want to stop and smell the roses will see that; while those that are rushing through life too quickly will find what their minds are open to. Most of these people will choose the quick, but not necessarily quality route, and that is okay.
Q5. Let’s talk about niches. I feel if I didn’t have my niches, I’d probably just bow out of social altogether. As saturated as social is, I guess a lack of niche could be one reason we see “Twitter quitters” and such. What advice could you give to people wanting to find their niche (or one of their niches)?
My advice is to stick with it. Find what makes you feel good about yourself. Even though it is not about you, it is still good to feel good about what you do. If basket-weaving is what makes you feel good, by all means, go do that! Then, find your little corner of the world, and if basket-weaving is something you want to share with others, share it!