It seems like there has been an influx of software and services that makes it easier (or at least possible) for the average Internet user to host live events like public video conferences. You could host regular video broadcasts on services like Google+ Hangouts or Ustream.tv, or use more activity-specific services like the game streaming community Twitch.tv. Regardless of your service of choice, the core idea of hosting such an event is to interact with your audience.
Today we’re going to take a look at Typecast, a free web service built by Shark SEO, designed to take your live audience interaction to the next level. Typecast lets you take questions from your audience in real-time, which creates a more organic feeling of communication between you and your viewers. Hit the jump to find out more about how Typecast works.
Setting Up Your Typecast
When you create an account, you’ll be able to flesh out your profile with all of the standard goodies: a link to your webpage, a profile image, and a description about you. However, when you click “Add a Typecast” is when the fun really begins.
The interface is simple and uncluttered, elegantly showing you only the information you need to know in order to get a Typecast started. I’ve decided to host a Hangout on my Google+ page, so I’ll give my Typecast an appropriate name.
Once your Typecast is live, it will be appear as it’s own page. At the bottom of this page is a URL that you can share with your viewers so that they can submit questions for you to respond to.
It is also worth noting that creating your Typecast doesn’t necessarily cause it to go live instantly. You can schedule it for a certain time in the future, allowing you to build hype and interest in the days or weeks leading up to it.
In the screenshot above, you’ll notice the question column on the right side of the page. When your viewers/listeners use your shared URL to submit a question, their inquiry will show up in this column. Other users will be able to see it, and can use the up/down arrows to vote for a question. This is especially handy when you’re dealing with a large audience, since it uses a sort of popular vetting process to float questions to the top that your viewers want to hear answered the most. Depending on the nature of your viewership, of course, this should simultaneously let you focus on the important questions and weed out any trolls (because let’s be honest, they seem to be everywhere these days).
When you decide that a question has received enough up-votes that it is worth fielding, you can note your answer as an actual response to the question within Typecast. This will not only allow your viewers who missed your live response to see how you answered a particular question, but creates an archive that can be revisited later.
Speaking of revisiting an archive, complete Typecasts can be found in a list on your profile page.
In the screenshot above, there’s only the one Typecast I’ve hosted, but as you conduct more and more sessions, your profile page can serve as a library for you or your audience to revisit the growing number of topics that you’ve chosen to discuss. Additionally, they’ll show up here even when they’re live. This means that your audience could potentially visit your page to see if you have a Typecast going on without having to receive your shared URL.
Lastly, you can search other live or archived Typecasts by clicking “View All Typecasts” on your profile page. The results are sorted by date, which is useful for finding recent and active Typecasts on a particular subject or keyword. For example, if I were interested in finding a Typecast to join during the Apple iPhone event in September, I can simply do a search for “iPhone” and I’m likely to find relevant results.
The Typecast search feature also includes future Typecasts, which will let you know of any sessions that might be of interest to you so you can plan to participate in them.
I’ve illustrated the capabilities that Typecast has with a fairly specific example, but the service really has the potential to be used in any number of creative ways. Instructors can take questions from students, and panelists and interviewers can answer questions their viewers want to ask. The possibilities are quite expansive. It isn’t a perfect product just yet, but development is on-going and I definitely have high hopes.
Sign up for a free account and give Typecast a spin. The service is still technically in beta, but if you sign up early, you could potentially be selected to receive a free Pro account for life. The details on what exactly the Pro-level accounts include have yet to be announced, but with such a robust beta, I look forward to finding out. Let us know what neat uses you find for Typecast!