You’ve been tasked with organizing a conference or a live event and you want to reach as many people as possible. Livestreaming your event through a webcast is the best way to do that. But planning any event can be pretty hectic, and with a webcast you’ll have in-person logistics to deal with plus extra technical concerns. But don’t worry. We know a thing or two about hosting killer presentations. Which is why we’ve made this guide for organizing a successful webcast.
What is a webcast?
We’re going to be picky with this definition. A lot of people use “webcast” as a synonym for “webinar.” Look, as webinar experts, we’ve got to tell you that this just isn’t the case. A webcast is a video recording of a real-life event. Whether it is a round table discussion or a presentation with one host, webcasts are one-way information flows. Information goes from the presenter(s) to the audience. Then the webcast can be put online and shared with an even larger audience, whether as a live broadcast or a recording.
What is a webinar?
A webinar is a seminar that is 100% online. So, your audience is not present in the room with you. Similar to webcasts, there can be interactions from the audience. But these interactions are done through question submissions, chats and polls. Likewise, they can also be recorded live and posted online at a later time, made available on demand, or exist as livestreams.
So the biggest difference? Webcasts require a venue and a live audience. Whereas a webinar you could do from your living room if you wanted to. We just recommend that you organize your background a little.😉
1. Create a strategy
We’ve covered the basics, and you're ready to start organizing your webcast. The first thing you should do is to define your goals, and create a strategy with them in mind.
Identify your audience
Identifying prospects begins by creating buyer personas. These are the generalized representations of your “dream customers.” Buyer personas can help you visualize the kind of customer you want to attract, and relate to them on a human level. Understanding exactly who buys your product helps you improve their experience. More than this, it is a key step in organizing your webcast because it will ultimately determine how useful your content is for your audience. If you target the wrong audience with the right content, it won't do much good for your brand (and vice versa).
And don’t just focus on the positive. Talk to people who aren’t good matches for your content, too. Reach out to customers who churned, and start a conversation about the challenges they faced with your product. This can help you create better content, and improve your product in the long run.
Select your topic & speakers
When picking a topic, start with a problem you want to help solve. Think about what you uncovered while you were researching your buyer personas. Were there any specific topics that kept coming back up? These would be the best ones to explore during your webcast.
You can even ask your audience what they want to see. Try emailing them a survey, or share a poll on your social channels.
Once you’ve selected your topic, you will need to select your speakers. This will depend upon the format of webcast that you select. Whether you organize a panel discussion or decide to only have one host, your speakers should always provide value for your audience.
Define your metrics
Metrics will determine if you picked the right strategy, and are benchmarks for your progress. Picking the right variables to measure will vary on a case-by-case basis. But we’ve identified a few failsafe metrics you can consider for your webcast.
In this scenario, your conversion rate will be measured by how many people register for your webcast. In Livestorm you can do this by adding a pixel to your webinar landing page. Pixels are small snippets of code that tracks user behavior. Remember the last time you googled a pair of sneakers you wanted, and then later those same sneakers popped up as an add in your instagram feed? That’s one way pixels are used to target shoppers.
For your webcast, you can embed a pixel onto your landing page to help you measure how many people subscribe to your broadcast and where this traffic came from. For example, if you are running campaigns on two different platforms you can tell if your registrant came from X or Y platform.
You can then use this information to measure how effective your campaigns are, and know if you are targeting the correct audience. It could also bring any existing issues with your landing page to the surface. This is especially useful if you are creating one of your own instead of using a built in landing page
Registrants vs. Attendance
With most live presentations, usually ⅓ of registrants actually attend. It can be tough to coordinate around meetings, deadlines, and other responsibilities. Plus, your online audience may not be able to make it to your webcast. Oftentimes people register for webinars and webcasts so that they can receive the recording afterwards. But it could also be a sign that you’re targeting the wrong people. If you find that this is the case, revisit step one of your webcast plan.
Also, depending on what market you are in, there could be a lot of other content competing with what you are offering. If your topic is in the news, trending on social media or otherwise buzzworthy, your chances of a good attendance rate are boosted. Promotion will help with this challenge, and we’ll explain more about that later.
Something that we like about webcasts is that you can send the recording to everyone who couldn’t make it to the live event. This way they can watch it on their own time. Plus, if they find it to be helpful there will be a greater likelihood that they will RSVP for the next session (and be more motivated to attend).
Attendance vs. Retention
So you know how many registrants attended your webcast. But you should also measure the retention rate for your presentation. During the live aspect of your webcast, it’s unlikely that half of the room will stand up at the fifteen minute mark and leave the room. But with your broadcast, your viewers can do just this if they lose interest. If you notice that many people are leaving at specific moments, take note of what you were doing when they lost interest. This can help you decide if the content was a good fit for you viewers, or if something was off about the presentation style.
A way to augment your retention rate is to create content that is available at the end of your webcast. For example, if you organize a panel of experts to talk about lead generation, you could redirect at the end to an ebook outlining your process. You could even print out physical copies of the content to distribute to your live audience. Teasing these materials during your promotion process will let the audience know what to expect.
2. Prepare your setup
Webinar platforms vs Open streaming
You might be wondering how to share your webcast content online. There are two ways you could go about doing this, with varied results. With so many options available for free, you might decide to use an open streaming platform like youtube, twitch or facebook live. This is great for content that corresponds in real-time with live events. If one of your co-hosts is an influencer, you can increase your exposure by hosting your webinar on that particular influencers platform of choice. For example, if they have a lot of subscribers on youtube, you will drive their audience to view your content by hosting the webcast on youtube.
The downside of open source live streaming is one of quality control. Anyone who stumbles onto your channel can view your webcast, leave comments publicly, and interact with your content. This could be a good thing for your brand if you have a lot of happy customers. But if you’ve spent more than five minutes on social media, you might have noticed that sometimes exchanges on public forums can be rather, let’s say, impolite. Comments disparaging your product or service can take attention away from your presentation. Unhappy customers should always be listened to, and learned from. But there is a time and a place for productive discussions (like the live chat boxes on your website’s help page). The last thing you want is a virtual dog pile of complaints on the webcast you’ve worked so hard on.
The alternative to open streaming is hosting your webcast on a platform built for webinars. But wait, didn’t we just tell you that webcasts and webinars are two different things?
While it’s true that they are not interchangeable definitions, hosting your webcast on a webinar platform actually makes a lot of sense. These two types of content have a lot of points in common. They both are distributed online, and require a level of professionalism that is hard to get on open streaming platforms. By transmitting your webcast through webinar software, you can set up two different strategies for quality control.
Set up a paywall
You might be hesitant to add a paywall to your webinar. It seems like it would do more to discourage attendees than improve the quality of your leads. But if you are hosting a paid event, it makes sense to make your virtual audience pay too. Paid webcasts are ideal for brands with hefty mailing lists, and a loyal fanbase. While they aren’t the best tool for generating new leads, they are good at turning existing leads into customers. Another cool bonus of using a webinar platform? You will have access to all of the data that you need to reach out to your leads later on down the line.
Create a private screening
You also have an option to control who is registering for your webcast by disabling public registrations. Since no one will be able to use your registration page, you’ll need another way to log registrations. This is easy if you use an integration tool like Zapier to connect your webinar software to a registration source.
We explore this in more detail in our help docs, for now you just need to know that disabling public registrations means that only people who have been given access to your webinar link can access it. Like with paywalls, it is better to implement private screenings when you already have access to a large and dedicated audience. Your content can be recorded and refurbished at a later date, and you can even send it to everyone who couldn’t make it to the live webcast.
Webinar platforms offer a streamlined experience for attendees. Combined with necessary marketing functions and advanced analytics, they can help you create professional webcasts easily. If you do decide to livestream with this kind of platform, look for one with a chat function that is easy to use. You could even present the questions to your live audience on a screen, and answer them in real time.
We recommend using platforms that are easy to access, and don't require any installations or downloads. Broadcasts that can be viewed directly in the browser tend to have higher attendance ratings across the board. The same goes for webcasts that appear to have a high production value. The quality of your recording will matter a lot, not only for the replays but also for content repurposing later on down the line. And finally, your software should be able to be accessed by large audiences without risk of crashing or bugs.
3. Plan venue/timeline
All of the usual concerns that come along with choosing a venue are amplified when organizing a webcast. Things like the cost of your site, the amenities included, and the location will all be variables that you’ll have to consider. Plus, you’ll have a whole host of technical concerns to deal with. Before you book your venue, here are some questions you can ask to find out if it’s right for your needs:
This is almost a prerequisite for a successful webcast. It is essential that you have a stable internet connection. Before you book your venue, test the connection to make sure it is reliable. Livestorm lets you do this with a connectivity test. This may be a hassle if the site is not within close proximity, but it is a necessary step to take to make sure that everything goes according to plan.
If you don’t have a way to confirm that you’ll have a reliable connection or if you find out last minute that it will be spotty, there are alternatives. Instead of livestreaming, try recording the live event and uploading it at a later time.
The way your webcast sounds depends on a few factors, like the acoustics in your venue. You can avoid the majority of problems by using high quality microphones. As we’ve said before, people can forgive a bad webstream if they can hear everything perfectly. Microphones like The Blue Yeti produce a round sound, and can be placed out of the view of your video feed. If you decide to use Lavalier microphones (those little mics that can clip directly to a collar) you’ll want to hook up your laptop to an external mixing system. Something like the Focusrite Scarlett will do a good job of bridging analog microphones with USB ports.
Ask your venue what kind of video devices and adaptors are available. You should be fine to use a laptop to record the webconference. Just verify that your operating system is updated in advance. More than just distracting, an unscheduled automatic update could ruin your entire presentation.
To capture high quality video, use an external USB webcam. At Livestorm, we really like the Logitech Brio 4k, and have been impressed by the versatility of the Huddly Go. Whatever camera you choose, pay attention to the image resolution, frames per second, focus and field of view of your webcam.
- Image resolution: this defines the quality of your image. We suggest aiming for a webcam that has resolution around 1080p (also called full HD) or 4k (which is twice the line resolution of 1080p). Basically, when you zoom in really close on an image, the hire resolution your camera is- the less pixelated it is.
- Frames per second: pretty self-explanatory, frames per second is the number of images that are displayed per second. The higher the FPS, the smoother your video will be.
- Focus: auto-focus mode will determine if your webcam will focus automatically on the presenter. Even if they move a lot, like when walking across a stage, the image will stay sharp with auto-focus.
- Field of view: The field of view is the difference between having a 60 degree wide angle and a 90 degree angle. The larger the angle is, the more the camera will capture on the left and right of the presenter.
Generally when we give advice about days to host webcasts, we suggest midweek. Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to have higher attendance. Avoid holidays and the weeks surrounding them, and schedule your webcast for daytime, when people are free. You could even host the live event during lunch hours to increase the chance that people will be able to come.
4. Spread the word
Your live event took a lot of time to prepare, and probably quite a bit of budget too. So turning it into a webcast is a great way to extend your reach. In order to promote your webcast, mention it in the promotional materials for your live event. You will have to simultaneously register people for your real life event and for its recording. You can do this by connecting an event management platform with your webinar software. In this case, we connect Eventbrite to Livestorm using Zapier. This will let your registrants know that they can watch online and also help them get the link when it’s live. It’s as simple as selecting “new attendee registered” as the trigger and “create a new registrant” as the action. For more on how to set this up, check out this resource.