Webinars, also known as webcasts or web seminars, are live or pre-recorded online events broadcast to a targeted group of people.
They can make a more direct and personal online interaction than a Facebook chat or Twitter message because your audience actually sees and hears you. They also have the ability to ask you questions through voice and video chat or instant messaging in real-time.
Usually, the host company or business (big or small) will share a presentation, video, or other multimedia content. You could host a webinar with an interactive slideshow presentation of your business’ new products or services, you could live-stream a video, give a live web tour of your new online catalogue or host a Q&A session.
Last year, Facebook ran a series of how-to webinars to promote its own advertising opportunities for SMEs. They split the webinars into two types – one for existing, ‘advanced’ advertisers and another for businesses that were new to Facebook Insights.
Chris Luo, head of small business marketing for Facebook, commented: “We’ve done webinars on an ad-hoc basis in the past, and people love to hear from us, and especially from other businesses who have offered tips and tricks... Now that we’re starting to see ways that SMEs are succeeding and driving sales, we wanted to create a framework for business success on Facebook.”
A ReadyTalk white paper on the Benefits of Web Conferencing highlights some of the benefits SMEs can reap through the technology: it can save your company time and travel costs, and expand your business’ reach.
It references a worldwide 2005 Microsoft Office online survey, which found that workers spent an average of 5.6 hours each week in meetings. In that same survey, 69% said meetings aren’t productive. Given that 25 million meetings take place daily in the US alone, much productivity was lost.
“Web conferences provide a structure that encourages good meeting practices such as starting and ending on time and sticking to the subject. The result is that web conferences accomplish more in less time,” it reads.
If you’re worried you don’t have the technical nous to set up and host a webinar, consider consulting a digital marketing company, who can hook up the tech and appropriate links, send out email invites to attendees and monitor the seminar.
Here’s some suggestions on how to maximise your webinar’s impact:
- Split time evenly between a lecture and a Q&A. It puts less pressure on coordinators and makes it more exciting to attendees. Bring a list of questions in case guests don’t pipe up.
- Promote the webinar through a well-designed email marketing and social media campaign (announcing it on Twitter and LinkedIn).
- Post production – release the text transcript and video from the podcast in an interactive blog post. Glean everything you can from the webinar’s content! You could walk away with a white paper, blog posts and videos to upload to your blog or social media