This post is a plea for you to start webcasting your events. It’s easier than you think, and it matters a lot. Of all the things that have made our own events so successful over the years, webcasting has been one of the most important.
If you’re not familiar with the term, webcasting is the act of streaming live audio and video from your event online. Frankly, it’s a term that’s getting a little dated. Just a couple years ago, webcasting seemed like a pretty complicated thing. But new(ish) tools like Facebook Live and Periscope have democratized webcasting/live streaming. Every day, live streaming is becoming more normal, and it’s losing its need for a fancy name.
In any case, no matter what you call it, you should be streaming your events live online.
Of course, not everybody is a webcasting fan. There are a few common objections out there. Let’s take a closer look at some of the bigger ones. We think you’ll see that they hold less water than they used to.
Objection: Webcasting is too complex for us.
No, it isn’t too complex for you. These days, webcasting is actually really simple. Thanks to tools like YouTube Live, Facebook Live, and Periscope, live streaming is more accessible today than it’s ever been.
Once you can capture audio/video content, the streaming part is easy. Of course, adding cameras and microphones to your event can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to make it. The good news is that most venues now offer full-service audio/video capabilities as part of their mix. All you have to do is add the streaming. Which, again, is easy.
If you’re interested in setting up audio or video recording capability on your own, here’s some good advice for doing it.
Objection: Webcasting is way too expensive.
This isn’t true any more, either. The new streaming tools are, for the most part, free. Hiring an expensive webcasting provider is no longer necessary. (Not to disparage our friends at Livestream. Their service can be a lifesaver in certain situations.)
Even buying or renting cameras, microphones, etc. is a lot cheaper than it used to be. Check out this article on what’s happening to high-end camera prices. The same thing is happening with more affordable equipment as well.
Objection: “Why would we give our content away for free?”
Finally, we come to the most common strategic objection to webcasting your events. If you’re in the business of selling tickets, the question is a logical one.
But it’s not the only question you should ask. Here’s a more important one: is the value of watching your event online really the same as being there in person?
If your honest answer to this question is “yes,” …well, you’ve got some work to do on your attendee experience. For most events, though, the benefits of live attendance “ the energy, the networking, the ability to interact with speakers and panelists “ can’t be replaced by an online video.
If this objection applies to you, it’s time to start thinking about live streaming in a different way. Stop thinking of webcasting as a replacement for live attendance. Webcasting isn’t about this event at all. Webcasting is about your next event. Webcasting is marketing in its purest form. Take it from us: webcasting does, in fact, drive attendance. At your next event.
Think about all the on-the-fence prospects who ultimately decided to stay home this time. What if they could really see what your event is all about? Don’t you think a fair number of them might make a different decision when your next event comes around?
When you think about live streaming as a marketing campaign, everything starts to fall into place.
Of course, for live streaming to make a marketing impact, you have to webcast more than static videos of people speaking. You’re promoting your event as a great live experience, so show it off! Let people be a fly on the wall during your networking sessions. Do man-on-the-street style interviews with your attendees. Show your attendees gathered for check-in in the morning. Give people online a look at how great your cocktail hour is.
You should show online viewers whatever it takes to make them think “oh man, I really should’ve been there!”
When you do that, and you start to see how rapidly your event-over-event attendance grows, you’ll probably come to agree with us. Webcasting (or live streaming) is one of the most important parts of your event-planning process.
In an upcoming post, we’ll talk about how to make sure all those on-the-fencers actually watch your event online.