Friday, April 26, 2013

Webinars as Part of Social Media Strategy

Webinars, or online workshops, are very popular these days and have begun to form an inseparable connection with social media strategy. But do they really deliver?

First used in 1998, the term “webinar” comes from the words “web” and “seminar”. It means a presentation, lecture or workshop transmitted over the internet. Webinars are generally slide show presentations. A presenter speaks for a particular period of time showing some slides to complement the speech. To make it easier for the audience to follow the content, the presenter can use a mouse pointer to highlight content as he goes. It lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to 2-3 hours, and at the end of the webinar the audience can brainstorm, ask questions to the presenter and get replies. There are dozens of webinar platforms in the market, both free and paid based on the variety of features they offer.

Webinar Types
Depending on the webinar purpose, its format may vary. One or more people can be engaged in the webinar. If it’s a complex webinar, besides the presenter you may need an assistant who understands the subject well and can help with answering questions. Although a solo-approach is highly recommended as a single presenter is generally treated as an authority.

The number of slides as well as duration of every slide shown during the webinar varies. Timothy Koegel, the author of “The Exceptional Presentersuggests that for virtual presentations, a slide may only be on the screen for 3 or 4 seconds. He argues that the most important element is to keep the presentation moving. Using Koegel’s model, a 60-minute presentation breaks down into 3600 seconds. One slide every four seconds would mean a total of about 900 slides.

In many cases the webinars are recorded to be used for later viewings. Sometimes it happens so that you register for a webinar but have no time to participate. The organizer follows up with you via email, including the link to the webinar recording. 

The promotion of a webinar starts long before the date it is transmitted. It’s usually done via social platforms, such as Twitter, the company’s Facebook page, an email newsletter and even on the website.

So why have online workshops become such a widely used strategy? 

Webinar vs. Webcast
Webinars are used for a variety of purposes, including product promotion, training, and sharing information about a new product or service. It’s an effective way to reach potential customers. It informs, educates and at the same time inspires. Webinars are an interactive, live, online meeting, which can provide excellent information. I’ll come back to this later.
Now let’s make a distinction between a webinar and a webcast. Many people don’t see a difference between them, thinking that it’s the same thing.

Both webinars and webcasts transmit information to the audience. But…

A Webcast is a one-way broadcast, i.e. there is no interaction between the presenter and the audience. The term itself comes from “web” and “broadcast”. You hear and/or see what’s being transmitted without any interaction. You cannot ask anything or get a reply. It’s usually a pre-recorded material and is widely used for education.

As I already mentioned webinars inspire the audience. But the most inspiring should be the final slide of the presentation. It can contain a link to your website which will give another opportunity to see your product in its full functionality. Why not include your Twitter link or even a hashtag specific to your webinar content? Many people like to share their opinion after the webinar. It will become feedback which can help you in both promotion and future improvements.

And don’t forget to promote future webinars at the end of the current one.

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