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Why Virtual Events Need a Life Beyond Livestream

When planned properly, video content has long-term value for the audience, sponsors, and the host organization.

Call it the inverse law of lockdown: Covid-19 has put face-to-face events and conferences on hold, but virtual iterations are happening more than ever. Livestreaming is the new black.

However, while organizers are doing their best to be engaging and keep the conversation flowing, livestreaming has its limits. Ask most anyone what comes to mind as the number-one benefit of virtual events, and the response is likely to be “no travel!” But then ask about the virtual events they’ve signed up for, but never signed in for. While attending an in-person event requires planning, expenditure, and commitment, signing into a virtual event does not. Even if someone has every intention of tuning in to a livestream, when that time comes the decision to click “dismiss” on the calendar notice is easy to make.

This is why it is so important that your event has a life after the livestream. While your event can, and should, be livestreamed, don’t assume that is how people will watch it. Instead of approaching it like an in-person event, think of it as you might a podcast: Treat the content like episodes that some may choose to binge watch, while others may want to consume in snackable portions. Make it easy to search and discover based on more than just the session title and speaker. This is an opportunity to add value and grow your audience long after the closing remarks have been made.

Reconnecting Revenue
One troubling trend that has emerged is for event organizers to lower (if not eliminate) registration fees for virtual events. It’s a precedent that, if it goes on too long, will become the norm. Planners need a strategy that will add value for attendees and sponsors as well as optimize the long-tail value of their content.

Carefully curated content and top-tier speakers, whether livestreamed or on demand, are as premium as premium gets, and have value for not just for the audience but also for the event host. One of the reasons that even a free event requires people to RSVP is to capture their contact information—yet this is completely lost if you post videos on YouTube. You also won’t have intel on which topics and speakers were popular or be able to give your sponsors reliable insights on their ROI.

Further, the marketing teams at sponsors’ and speakers’ companies crave re-publishable assets containing their thought leadership. Event organizers should consider this a revenue-generating opportunity in its own right.

Going Live with On-Demand
The first step when thinking beyond the livestream is to be clear about your goals. Do you want to maximize the eyes on your content, drive website traffic, generate leads, or make money either from paid viewership or from sponsorship?

If you aim to offer watch-again video for sponsorship, begin by clearly articulating the value to partners. That includes inter-weaving pre-recorded sponsor clips, offering click-throughs, and making video available to share through their own channels.

Next, make sure you actually obtain your livestreamed video file. Many event broadcasters don’t even think about it; they just go live through Zoom or the next easiest platform and then have nothing to show for it. Your event video is your property; without it, you cannot leverage the long-tail opportunities.

Another thing to consider is how you will break up the stream for maximum long-term effect. Of course, most organizers will want to create segments of each agenda session. But consider getting more creative. How about editing smaller teaser clips for playback through social media in order to drive traffic to the full material?

Make the Most of Virtual
The COVID-19 pandemic is driving a multitude of changes to businesses. While not all will persist, it’s safe to assume virtual events are here to stay. It’s not a matter of learning to live with them, but rather learning to benefit from them. Virtual events should be treated as a new opportunity and a way to diversify revenue streams, connect with audiences, and drive long-term value.

Gil Becker is CEO at AnyClip, a video data and technology company that uses AI analysis to improve the online event experience. Connect with Becker on LinkedIn or drop him an email at [email protected].

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