Wouldn’t it be great if you could bottle those “I was there” moments? Like that time when the entire room rose to their feet in rapturous applause for a keynote speaker that you booked. Or those brief few seconds of contemplation when the enormity of what you’ve pulled off hits home.
After months of preparation and a generous helping of stress, bottling those moments to be relived is the least you deserve. Your audience deserves to enjoy those highs too, whether they were there to experience them in person or not.
Unfortunately, we’re not aware of any way to bottle the energy of a room and store it but we’ve got the next best thing: webcasting.
Let the conference play on
A conference shouldn’t be a “you had to be there” deal — you work too hard for too long not to ride the wave and explore every possible revenue opportunity. There’s no reason why your conference from last year can’t be relevant this year or three years from now. Great content doesn’t have a short-term shelf-life.
This is why webcasting makes sense: it lets people experience the best bits long after the live event and gives you the opportunity to reap the financial rewards.
It also gives those that can’t be there in person the chance to enjoy the live experience in real-time or at their own leisure.
How webcasting works
Webcasting is simply streaming your event live to an online audience but recording it at the same time.
HD cameras and audio equipment are set up and the various speakers, keynotes, discussions and demonstrations are filmed. The attendees get to watch it live in person and those with access to a computer or mobile device and internet connection get to watch it from wherever they happen to be in the world.
As it’s recorded, viewers can watch the conference in their own time and attendees can rush home and relive the magic or catch up on things they may have missed during different content streams.
There are two main benefits of this:
The ability to extend the shelf-life of your conference by making it available to watch long after the event, as explained above.
The opportunity to make your conference available to a much wider audience. Only so many people can attend your event in person. Online, your audience is unlimited.
When it comes to increasing the ROI of your event, webcasting is arguably the most cost-effective method around. You’re holding the conference anyway, why not set up cameras and allow potentially thousands of more people to attend online?
The cost of streaming pales in comparison to the potential revenue of online subscriptions that trickle in long after the dust has settled on the live event.
Hosting a webcast
There are two ways to go about webcasting: do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you. Now, just like you’d sooner pay a mechanic to fix your car or a dentist to examine your teeth, it’s better to hire a professional.
If you have the high definition audiovisual equipment and the technical expertise in-house, it’s possible to stream your event over popular free channels like Facebook or YouTube without too much fuss. However, neither of these channels offer the long-term benefits that a dedicated platform does.
Facebook gives you access to a large audience, but it means giving your content away for free and the shelf-life is relatively short. Live videos are slaves to the Facebook algorithm and are removed after 500 posts on your page. They’re also limited to four hours recording time.
Like Facebook, YouTube means giving your content away for free and while there is an opportunity to monetise via ads, it takes tens of millions of views to see anything like a substantial payout.
Using a dedicated webcasting platform, on the other hand, lets you stream your event and place it behind a paywall. This gives you a guaranteed revenue stream, and depending on the services offered by the platform provider, allows you to edit footage for highlight feels to be used for marketing.
Will using a webcasting platform mean losing viewers? Yes, you’ll probably miss out on a few casual viewers that you’d pick up on social media but your conference is only marketed to your target audience anyway so the difference wouldn’t be significant. Plus, a smaller number of engaged, paying viewers is worth a whole lot more than casual Facebook users.
Dedicated webcasting also benefits sponsors. By paying for ad space on webcast pages, brands can put themselves in front of an audience with an active interest in what they offer. This isn’t possible on Facebook or YouTube.