On the Spot with Gerdie Schreuders of LiveOnlineEvents
26 April 2018
Posted by: Katie Spackman
AAE interviewed Gerdie to talk about what associations need to consider when delivering live online events.
Question: What does ‘live online’ mean in relation to an event?
Answer: A live online event is an event with two different target groups, an online audience and a live audience who are physically present.
Until two years ago we used to say that an online event was a live event being streamed at the same time, now we refer to online events in two ways: real-time or on-demand.
If you add the online element to your event you immediately have the opportunity to increase your reach, engagement and as a result impact of your event. You can have three different approaches for this: a live event which is being broadcasted, where the focus is on the live event; an online event with a live audience, like a TV show, where the focus is on online; and a live and online event, where the focus is 50% live and 50% online.
Q: What are the main benefits of adding a live online element to an event?
A: Content capture: This adds huge value to membership organisations particularly with the disruptive threat of other content providers. Now more than ever it is important that associations are capturing their content to add ongoing value for their members.
Accessibility: Events can be seen as a resource drain and are often overlooked in terms of funding provision. If you deliver online those who can’t afford the cost or the travel time can access the content and also engage in real-time.
Cost: It is inevitably a lower-cost, no travel, no accommodation, simply no T&E for the employer or the individual depending on who is funding it.
Engagement: Increasingly the virtual communities and the live communities are engaging. As the technology and the production become more sophisticated live online delegates are having more and more immersive experiences.
Branding: A live online event can increase the reach of an organisations brand dramatically.
Sponsorship: Sponsors are looking for new ways to support associations. They want innovation and more ways to reach their audience. By adding the live online element you add to the options for your sponsors. What’s more, an online event can be a wake-up call for “sleeping members” and can also attract a new target group, which is often a younger group.
Q: How can associations monetise online events?
A: There are some brilliant business models for monetizing live online through sponsorships which not all organisations are confident about yet.
We have seen some really engaging partnerships working for live online, especially for medical associations where you can manage the ethics and compliance regulations by giving different partipants different access pathways to the live online event to avoid any issues with the regulations. This is an example of innovating event sponsorship.
Sponsors can have logos, banners, virtual goodie bags or sometimes even branded content and sponsor interviews. There is so much branding opportunity online and association partners are crying out for something different.
Q: Marketing: What are your tips for getting the live audience to an event?
A: When attracting an online audience you need to develop a marketing strategy specifically designed for this audience.
Believe it or not the most important conversation you have with online participants is in the 24 hours before the event starts. This is when people will prioritise it. Before then people will make a note of it but other more immediate tasks will come along and replace it.
Organisations really have to push hard and put a lot of effort in attracting an audience for online participation but it’s worth it.
The benefit of this is that you will also be able to attract new target groups and organisations should utilise social media, other channels and partners to attract these new audiences.
There should be a separate marketing plan for your online participants that has stand alone aspects but also aspects that are integrated and reactive to your marketing plan for live attendees.
For example, when you monitor the email performance for your live participants, you could consider sending the people who don’t open your email information specifically about your live online offering. This will then evolve into emailing them about your on-demand content.
Q: What are the key drivers for people to attend live online events?
A: There are a number of reasons why people will attend the online event in real-time or on-demand rather than attend in person.
Time: People are busy and attending online events cuts out travel time and time away from the office. Even though they will have to devote time to it, it is significantly reduced and easier to dip in and out remotely.
Flexibility: they can log in and out of the event as and when they want to for the relevant parts and carry on with their day job.
Cost: With tight budgets organisations and individuals can not always afford to travel to events, this provides them with a way to attend at low or no cost.
Fear of missing out: People don’t want to miss out, this is always a huge driver. People do not want to be behind the curve in their profession and this gives them a way to be involved without travelling to the event. What’s more, an online event attracts new live participants.
The online experience: This is growing and still not a natural assumption for live online delegates. Increasingly the offering for online delegates is becoming experiential. Conversations and tours designed for them, virtual goodie bags, online competitions and online breakouts, discussions and playlists. The technology and the innovative production is making this more about the experience than ever before. It’s exciting!
Q: Are people charging for online?
A: Not many. It’s still more an engagement and brand piece and there are different models for content access and it is worth organisations exploring all options. Some organisations are charging for video content for non-members, which is an interesting model for the next generation.
Q: What stops Associations from producing a live online element as part of their event?
A: Fear! Fear that people won’t show up, fear of technical issues, fear of it costing too much both in time and financially.
What’s interesting, and this goes back to the earlier point is that there are so many sponsorship opportunities in live online, particularly for medical associations as you can overcome the issues of ethics and compliance for sponsors who want to be a part of the event.
Q: Do you need different producers for the online and live events?
A: Ideally no, they are the same event. A few weeks ago we produced both the live and the online elements of an event and it works really well.
There are 3 different types of live online events:
1) An event is broadcast online where the producer is 100% focused on the live event and the online event is an extra (an extra pain!)
2) An online event run like a TV show where there is a small live audience and a large live audience
3) A 50/50 event where you have 50% live and 50% online.
Q: What top tips would you give an association looking to deliver a live online event?
1) Check your target group. If they are all already at your event in person, you do not need an online event.
2) Your first target group is the most obvious though forgotten one: those not able or willing of allowed to join the event in person
3) Try it yourself. Register for an online event and go along, try it out and see what works for you, what it feels like, what’s good and what isn’t. Not a webinar, that is different.
4) Speak to your business partners about it. Make sure you make the monetization of your content part of the strategy not an after thought.
5) Try it ‘softly’ first. Use Facebook Live and see how it feels, what the engagement is. Remember to market this though! Realise the impact and potential of an online offering by trying it a few different times and different events. Get comfortable with it.
6) Create a strategic content plan before the event, in order to create videos who are used for marketing, PR, education etc afterwards.
7) Find a reliable technical partner and check: their experience in livestreaming and their willingness to collaborate with your AV partner
8) Find an experienced consultancy agency for your online events, helping you with marketing, design, moderating and speaker brief.
9) Involve your communication colleagues and work side by side with their promotion and registration process.
10) Benefit from the videos you are producing!
Q: What is the best memory you have of a live online event?
A: All events get better and better and my best was my most recent one. We had the opportunity to produce it live and online at the same time and both had the same value to the individual audiences. We broadcasted professionally with 5 cameras, with registration through our customer’s website, their intranet, Faebook Live, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Each channel had a different target group, schedule and social media. The content was the same but the experience was different. It was fantastic.
Q: What is the amusing experience you have had?
A: The first event I ever did. I underestimated how many hands you need and we had just one person managing all of the technical elements of the event. We weren’t prepared enough, it was a try & error and no, it was not for a paying customer. It still worked but it was stressful. Funny afterwards and a real learning curve. Now, I can laugh about it!
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: Yes, there is a huge trend going on right now and it is to use all forms of communication channel to get the largest reach and engagement.
In 2014 we would use just one outlet. In 2017 and for example at the most recent event I produced we used:
We had five different communication strategies and a team of social media reporters. It was buzzing but it needs a very detailed plan! Events are going live, whether you want them to or not so in order to make the most of the opportunity you need to take control of it now.
We see that people are reluctant to embrace this because really the only way you can capture the data and the users is via the live-streaming element. Our recommendation is to get the best reach and engagement that you can and then make the virtual offering so good that people will register next time. Use your Facebook pixel to market to these warm contacts next time. It’s a process. It’s happening and it’s hugely hugely exciting.
LiveOnLineEvents is a Dutch communication agency, with a large international footprint, specialised in live and online events. We are the first agency in Europe that focusses on engaging online participants at live events, so called hybrid events, since as early as 2009. Varying from an interactive online TV broadcast to an online video: we design, direct, produce, moderate and present. Moreover we support our clients with the promotion and marketing communication before, during and after their events. To be able to offer all these services, we work with a permanent team of experienced specialists in the desired areas of expertise needed for a job.
The mission of LiveOnlineEvents
We strongly believe that we make the world a better place when we help event organisers share their valuable content with a larger audience. By doing so, the latest insights about relevant social and business issues will end up earlier at the desk of game changers, influencers and decision makers. They don’t have to re-invent the wheel. And more progress can be achieved in areas such as sustainability, disruptive technologies and innovation.
About Gerdie Schreuders
Gerdie is the initiator of LOE and runs the company together with business partner Gerrit Heijkoop. Gerdie is a true all-rounder and loves to be involved in concept creation, recruiting of participants and the editorial process of content creation. She brings 20 years of experience in marketing (communication) to the table and has been designing live and online events for years. Gerdie is much asked for trainer in the areas of social media and live and online events. She will make you connect with your target audience 365 days a year, for a longer duration and in a more direct way.