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Best Practices

Simulive: Bringing Recorded Presentations to ‘Live’

By | Best Practices, Communication, Engagement, Marketing, Video, Virtual Events, Webcasts & Webinars

A simulated live webinar, “simulive”, is a scheduled webinar which streams a pre-recorded presentation while allowing organizers to engage with the audience in real time using interactive tools.  

In case you have not looked into simulive before, there are key advantages that are worth your consideration:

1. Ease of Coordinating Schedules

Your webinar presenters are all busy professionals, located in different offices, different cities and countries.  Finding the one time slot convenient for all which fits your marketing schedule can be a daunting task. With simulive, you coordinate the timing of the recording at the presenters’ convenience, and then broadcast the recording as live at a time convenient for your target audience.

2. Reducing “Live” Production Risks

Should we even elaborate more?!  We all have scars on our backs with production issues that happen from time to time during a live webinar.  Whether it’s presenter delays, networking and audio problems, or incorrect downloaded presentations, these degrade the attendee experience and leave a bad mark on our brands.  With simulive, you can avoid many of these problems, by pre-recording highest quality presentation, and then broadcasting it live from the cloud.

3. Addressing Globally Dispersed Customers and Prospects

Agreeing on the best time to schedule a live webinar to address the east, central and west coast US time zones is already a challenge.  What about the rest of the world? Simulive is a perfect solution that enables you to schedule the same presentation multiple times, using a recording of the original, each optimally timed for a specific region of the world.

4. Increasing Rate of Return on Marketing Spend

Simulive allows you to leverage a presentation recording multiple times, hence increasing your utilization of an asset you have already committed time and money to.  Meanwhile, the “live” nature of simulive increases the attendance, and substantially improves viewership, compared to on-demand utilization of the same video.

5. Engagement of Attendees

Perhaps even more important than increased viewership, simulive sessions give you the opportunity to engage with the attendees in real time, through online chat with staff, Q&A with experts, surveys and polls.  Engagement data is crucial in your follow up strategies, and simulive is a powerful way of collecting more.

Now, you might be thinking “hey, I see the advantages for the organizer!  But how about the attendees? How would they react if they knew the “live” session they are attending is pre-recorded?”.  

Based on our experience, the attendees don’t care as long as the following expectations are met: (i) the presentation delivers fresh and high quality content on the advertised topic, and (ii) they can ask presenters questions and expect timely answers.   When these expectations are met, simulive is a win for all!

At engagez.com, we take pride in our simulive offering. Our customers use Engagez not only for simulive but also to host live, and on-demand events.   We view simulive not as an alternative to live webinar but as a lower-cost means of offering more frequent live programming. Our calendaring mechanism further allows an organizer to mix and match live, simulive and on-demand sessions and create comprehensive and engaging events.  These events expand the concept of a traditional webinar, offering attendees more content and higher educational value, while increasing their engagement opportunities.

Best Practices for Hosting Video on Demand

By | Best Practices, Communication, Engagement, Marketing, Video, Virtual Events

We have come a long way from the days when hosting a video was simply putting a file on a shared drive and letting people download it. First with desktop players, we were able to play the video directly from a shared drive. This was a step forward but still painful since the initial players had to download the entire file before starting to play, hence costly and slow. The next generation of players were embedded within your HTML pages and were able to cache and start the video with some delay without having to wait for the full download. This somewhat improved the video experience but was not as helpful if you wanted to consume the content by jumping around the video. The shortcomings of these approaches were only magnified as the popularity of mobile devices exploded, leading to further challenges in maintaining a steady internet connectivity speed.

Today, the best practices of serving high quality VOD have substantially evolved. You experience these best practices when consuming videos on the largest of service providers like YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, etc. What is not obvious to the consumer is the amount of computational work and process flow that goes on behind the scenes in preparing an uploaded video file for that smooth viewing experience. These providers are addressing the consumers insatiable desire for flawless playback experience and ease of navigating/jumping within videos, on any device, and in most connectivity situations. As the cost of adopting these best practices become more affordable, more and more service providers will adopt them over time, yet many are not there yet.

As you evaluate the best solutions for your VOD needs, consider the following best practices and whether they are adopted by your service provider:

1. Transcoding

Having a single high quality video file does not translate into best consumption experience: depending on the situation, it could translate into wasted bandwidth for those on desktop/notebooks with high internet connectivity and poor to unusable experience for mobile users and those with slower internet speeds. The best practice is to transcode the original file, generating multiple versions of it, each with its own optimized streaming segmentations, bitrates, bit depths, and framing policies, targeting differing internet connectivity situations. This process is usually performed as part of the video upload process, prior to making the VOD available for viewing.

2. Adaptive Bitrate Streaming

Once you have adaptive bitrate versions of the video, your player and the server need to communicate with each other to leverage the most suitable content. Over the last few years, the best practice communication protocols between the client players and the host servers have evolved into streaming models that work over HTTP across wide distributed networks. These protocols are designed specifically to take advantage of “adaptive bitrate” optimized server content, hence referred to as “adaptive bitrate streaming”.

Adaptive bitrate streaming protocols are superior to delivering a static video file at a single bitrate.  As depicted in the image above, the video stream can be switched midstream to be as good or bad as the client’s available network speed.  It continuously adapts to any changes to the client’s network and CPU situations. To see the advantage of this approach, compare this to the buffering or interruption in playback that would happen when client’s network either did not support the quality of the native video, or the network load kept on changing based on changes to the mobile signal strength or others’ activities on the same network.

There are several implementations of adaptive bitrate streaming. If compatibility across diverse devices are important to you, then MPEG-DASH and Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) are the two most widely adopted implementations available across most devices and OSs.

3. Timeline Thumbnails

The ability to locate with ease the portions of interest within a lengthy video is a high value need by video consumers, especially in the B2B space. One feature that is very helpful in this regard is the ability to move the mouse along the video timeline and seeing the frame thumbnail images of that spot in the video. The smoothness of the frame updates as you traverse the mouse over the timeline are critical in making this capability useful and attractive to users.

4. Use of Content Delivery Network (CDN)

If you have a large and global audience, using CDN for video delivery will go a long way in removing latency and delivering a smooth experience for all users, regardless of physical location.

At engagez.com, we take pride in our implementation of these video best-practices. Our customers use Engagez to host live, simulive (simulated live) and on-demand events. Most live events also transition to on-demand after its completion and stay open for a period of time for further audience engagement. During setup, when you upload videos, whether for on-demand or simulive, we apply these best practices and ensure smoothest possible user experience for your attendees.

Virtual Events: Etiquette For Online Activities

By | Best Practices, Virtual Events | No Comments

Anyone who’s spent any amount of time online knows that the ability to be the Invisible Man at the end of a computer terminal tends to bring out the worst in people. However, if you’re going to a virtual event where the purpose is to make connections and establish a network, it’s important to mind your p’s and q’s. If you’re new to online events, or you’re just not sure what is and isn’t good form, here are a few tips you need to keep in mind.

#1: You’re Not As Anonymous As You Think

Online events aren’t like the thousands of random forums on the Internet; they require registration, and personal information from users. So even if you keep your profile bare bones (which you shouldn’t), word is going to get around about you and your behavior. That’s true whether the reputation you build is good, or bad. So before you respond to negative criticism, or write to express your frustration with someone, take a deep breath. What you say will be logged, and it might come back to bite you later on down the line.

#2: Be Genuine With Your Intentions

When it comes to virtual events, most people come to play. Whether they’re buyers or sellers, everyone is looking to make some money, digitally shake hands, and to have a solid business interaction. You should do the same. Put on your game face, and be upfront with why you’re there, and what you’re looking for in terms of both interaction, and success. You’ll get much better results if you make no secret about who you are, and what you’re trying to do. In fact, it’s duplicity that can get you a bad reputation, and which will get people to avoid you in the future. Remember, everyone is here to do business, but there’s nothing that says they have to do business with you.

#3: Give Thoughtful, Genuine Feedback

Most virtual events and meetups allow you the option of giving feedback. You can rate the experience, leaving notes for the community to tell them all about your particular interactions, and if you felt the event was valuable, and worthwhile. If you’re going to use this feature, make sure your feedback is heartfelt, and that it is also even-handed. If you get reported leaving bad feedback out of spite, or just to down someone else’s ratings, that can have a boomerang effect when you get reported for your activity. So before you leave feedback, ask yourself if it’s warranted. If it is, remember to keep your feedback professional.

#4: If You Wouldn’t Do It In-Person, Don’t Do It Online

Perhaps the best rule of thumb when it comes to avoiding any faux pas while you’re at a virtual event is to comport yourself online the same way you would in-person. Whether it’s what you say, how you say it, or who you talk to, make sure that your online persona is as close to the real you as you can possibly get. While there will be little things like event-specific jargon, and rules that change from one site to another, those are things you can learn. Remember that even though other people aren’t in the room with you, that shouldn’t change the way you behave. It can take some time, but this is overall a fairly simple habit to get down.

Adjusting to online events isn’t as hard as it might seem. If you join the online discussions, ask questions, and get the hang of a given site, you’ll be comfortable in no time. If you’re looking for more insights, simply contact us today!

4 Tips To Create A Successful Digital Event

By | Best Practices, Virtual Events | No Comments

A poorly planned digital event can be a disaster for those who attend as well as the business. An effective and informative digital event is about more than just choosing the right platform and using the best equipment. Understanding who the target audience is, defining the purpose of the event and understanding the appropriate access for attendees are important factors to consider.

Target Audience

Who are you trying to reach?  Is this a product launch for existing customers who are already familiar with your stellar customer service? Is this an informational meeting for prospects who have shown some interest in your company? Perhaps it is simply a meeting with employees across several locations who need training on a new process.

Each of these situations is a different audience with different needs and preferences.

Consider other factors of prospective attendees. Identify everything from age, marital status, socioeconomic status, geographic location, gender, job title, industry affiliation, tenure in the industry, existing knowledge of the industry and relationship to the company for the individuals you want to reach. This information can impact the advertising of the event, the best platform to choose, how the content is presented and the style of speaker.

Understanding the target audience and their needs is the first step to creating a digital event that includes the specific information that audience will find most valuable.

Event Objectives

Identify the objectives specific to the target audience and build an agenda around them.

Consider WIIFM – What’s In It For Me – why would a customer or prospect or employee want to attend this event? What kinds of information are you going to share that is going to directly impact the attendee?  If a customer is going to take time from their busy schedule it is important that you share information they need in a way that is interesting and engaging.

Choose guest speakers not only for their knowledge, but for their ability to keep an audience interested. It is very easy for someone to ‘multitask’ while they are listening to a presentation they find boring or irrelevant.

Keep the agenda on point. Don’t add extra information just because it helps to fill out the time.

Choose a platform that supports your objectives. If you will be having a Q&A option or perhaps allowing attendees to chat with each other make sure the option works.

Review the event objectives and expectations when choosing the platform to verify it has all of the necessary functionality. An audience that expects to be able to see each other through video will quickly be disappointed if that feature isn’t available.

Test It

There is a wide variety of options available for users to access digital information. Part of understanding your target audience is knowing if they prefer to use a laptop, tablet or smartphone.  What operating system are they likely to use?

Test the platform you intend to use on several different options. Check how the presentation looks on a tablet vs a desktop. How does the video work on a smartphone?

Have someone who has never used the platform log in and get feedback on how easy it is to navigate. Use this feedback to create instructions for participants.

Test early and often to ensure a smooth event.

Simplicity

Keep it simple. Simple means attendees can easily access the event, intuitively navigate the platform and clearly identify the most important features.

Provide directions on how to use the platform before the event so that new users can familiarize themselves as needed. Minimize unnecessary options so that participants don’t get distracted from the message.  The more cluttered the screen is, the more difficult it will be to capture and keep the audience’s attention.

Planning a digital event involves more than choosing a speaker and platform. Take the time to understand your audience, create specific objectives and keep it simple to host a successful digital event.

For more information please contact us

virtual conference platform

Virtual Conference Platforms Can Work in Tandem With Physical Conferences: Here’s How

By | Best Practices, Business Strategy, Communication, Marketing, Virtual Events | No Comments

Conferences are an important tool for modern professionals, allowing hundreds in a field to come together and work on issues ranging from professional standards to the latest technological or scientific developments.

But now, the conference industry is undergoing a major revolution. New virtual conference platforms and online event software are offering conference organizers new ways to innovate and address existing problems. In fact, the industry is slated to grow from $14 billion to $18 billion in value by 2023.

In this guide, we will look at how virtual conference platforms can help supplement physical conferences to create the best events possible.

    1. Expand your reach
      One of the best ways to use virtual conference software is to expand your reach. While professional conferences might draw in thousands of visitors, for every attendee, there is someone at home who either could not afford the trip or could not get time off of work. By digitizing elements of your conference on a virtual conference platform, you are able to provide information and opportunity to those not physically able to attend.

 

    1. Digitize the Conference Experience
      With a virtual trade show, you can digitize the traditional conference or trade show experience in a variety of ways. First, a virtual conference platform can provide lucrative new sponsorship opportunities, which can help fund your efforts. Second, the best event software makes networking and lead capture far simpler for everyone involved, enhancing one of the most important aspects of these events. Finally, rather than making announcements over a loudspeaker, you can use notifications to update attendees at any time, whether they’re visiting in person or online.

 

  1. Feature Bonus Material
    It can be hard to make your conference schedule work for everyone all the time. The better rooms and better time slots will have to go to the most popular lectures and talks. But with virtual conferences, you are never at a loss for space, nor are you bound by the constraints of your speakers’ schedules. Using your virtual conference platform to show supplemental material that you didn’t have time and space for will allow your attendees to get more information before, during, and after the event.

Organizing and growing a successful conference can be difficult. One way that you can cost-effectively expand the education and engagement of your attendees is by taking advantage of online event platforms. This tool allows you to create a virtual component to your event and make your life easier at the same time.

Graphic reference https://www.marketresearchmedia.com/?p=421.

Maybe Everyone Will Offer Simultaneous Live Audio Streaming for Now Just Engagez

By | Best Practices, Business Strategy, Virtual Events, Webcasts & Webinars | No Comments

We believe there is another channel or audience segment that is not being served well by events. This segment is comprised of people who cannot attend a physical event and would like to, but also cannot sit and watch a live video stream either. The thought came to us when we were attending a remote video event but had to go to an appointment and could not watch in the car. We realized that we would have continued attending the event had they only offered an audio stream which we could listen to on the way. We know its not as good as a video, but it would have been better than nothing.

This concept was reinforced after we’d noticed people in our office with a video stream up on one browser, with another “work” browswer opened. They were listening, but couldn’t watch. “Why would I sit and watch someone talk unless I needed to see slides or something? I just want to hear what they are saying,” was the answer we got when asked.

In fact, I often do that as well with YouTube videos that are explaining something that I don’t need or want to watch-just listen.

Since we are unaware of any platform that provides this, we feel it is a unique idea. It may take a while to catch on but with the popularity of podcasting in general, we think it is worth pioneering.

Currently we offer audio-only (lower bandwidth and less strain on the user’s data plan) with the notion that people might start to listen to events more on their mobile devices–while they are traveling, at work or busy doing something else where video isn’t an option.

Ideas on How to Monetize Your Digital Events

By | Best Practices, Business Strategy, Monetize | No Comments

Some organizations look to generate direct revenue from their online event programs although most are actually seeking to achieve other, indirect benefits. This post is for those that want to generate revenue.

Like most roads, the road to monetization often leads back to content. Whether it is an overall event sponsorship you are selling, a content specific sponsorship, or access to specific content, the primary reason people attend an online program is to gain new knowledge.

Let’s start with the low hanging fruit; content people need and will pay money to access. As an example, one of the most successful virtual events is Social Media Summit. They consistently sell tickets to attend their annual event online and sell a lot! At $495 (at least last I checked that was the price) they have had events that have been attended by around 2,000 people. They have great content, a hot subject and lots of people to sell to.

There are associations that routinely make hundreds of thousands of dollars selling virtual-only registrations to their events at the full price of an in-person registration. People are willing to pay if the content is really important to them and may be willing to pay full price for the convenience of not having to leave their office or practice.

The key is to have content that people are willing and able to pay for (that by the way, is a good rule to have no matter what content you are sharing). That’s where your work comes in… finding out what that is and then putting a plan together to create/capture it AND THEN MARKETING. Don’t neglect to explore marketing partnerships either! The beauty of this type of digital product is that the cost doesn’t go up based on the use so you can be very aggressive with partner commissions.

Overall event sponsorship will vary depending on the type of event, the audience, the potential sponsors and the options in the technology you are using. Giving your sponsors the opportunity to have their content featured in a session or multiple sessions is usually a big benefit. Sponsoring individual session content may have appeal as well. Here you can offer a graphic or video message at either the beginning (of the event? Session?) or end or both. Some technology allows you to brand the player on which the remote audience is watching the stream/recording, or brand the live stream image itself with lower thirds or other options.

If you happen to be producing a hybrid event (in-person audience as well as online) you might consider setting up a studio at the event that’s used to interview your sponsor’s subject matter experts, attendees and speakers. The content would be streamed to the remote audience when there’s nothing to stream from the event onsite (i.e. during breaks). There are many ways to monetize with sponsorships of the studio, during the live event and also during any rebroadcast.

Advertising benefits are also a significant way to sell sponsorships. These can also be sold as standalone services if you have a large enough audience. You can include banner ads on the streaming player, pop up ads, and video ads played between programs. Some virtual event technologies will accommodate push messages and ads to the remote audience within event-related emails sent to attendees and potential attendees before, during and after the event.

We’ll come back to the subject of monetization again in the near future with a more exhaustive look.