Can live streaming events really enhance your business?

Some organisations are still put off live streaming events because they fear it will impact on physical attendance rates. So, Can live streaming events really enhance your business? Or does it cost too much? Time to start looking at the success stories, benefits and actual cost-savings of webcasts and webinars.

Virtual and hybrid events are a good idea. For this article, we’ve gathered together some stats and further reading that will hopefully be food for thought. If you aren’t already thinking about how to take your events online, then it’s time to start exploring. The British Meetings & Events Industry Survey 2011/12 states “some 20% of corporates and 17% of associations / not-for-profit have used virtual meetings in addition to face-to-face meetings and up to 13% of both sectors have used virtual meetings instead of face-to-face meetings.” Global firms like Astra Zeneca have made a bold move to go virtual, putting a stop to doctors travelling to meetings.  Companies like ThomsonReuters and LexisNexis have built entire business divisions around webinars and Continual Professional Development (CPD).

Using webinars as part of a content marketing strategy generates leads, improves SEO and creates real, two-way (trackable) conversations between organisations and audiences.

We found this great article about a study by the MPI foundation ‘The Value of Virtual’, which contains some very tangible results. As they say, ‘most organizations are still trying to understand just exactly what a “virtual event” is’ and use of virtual is often linked to travel budget cuts. BUT ‘virtual meetings won’t just be emergency budget stopgaps for long. Organizations are beginning to add virtual meetings to their core business processes’.

Digital events create a wider audience, both online and in-person

Live streaming events has a very positive impact on general audience figures. Kinura’s clients often see at least double the number of attendees online than those in-person.

Live streaming physical events can increase interest and help people decide whether they want to attend future events in person. In a 2011 study, Virtual Edge Institute found that 82% of the online audience found the virtual environment helpful in making a decision to attend in person next time, meaning your future events could see a rise in attendance if you stream online.

Online events solve issues surrounding travel budget cuts

Over the last few years event organisers have suffered travel budget cuts, leading to an increase in the use of virtual events. In 2010, Event magazine reported a 62% increase in the number of organisers using virtual events, with 19% saying they have seen more than double taking place. And that was in 2010!

Virtual events save companies money according to a report last year by GigaOm.com, the average virtual event saves $1,000 in travel costs per attendee.

Live streaming and the benefits of social media integration

Perhaps the online experience can’t fully replace face-to-face networking, but it still allows for the integration of social media and IM chat, and encourages a real-time debate between audiences during event presentations.

One of the main concerns virtual event providers have is the lack of networking available to online audience in comparison to in-person attendees, yet ON24 statistics suggests that many actually considered it easier to network virtually. 72% said they were equally confident interacting virtually, with 15% saying they actually preferred it.

Social media sites such as Twitter can also be used as a great marketing tool for online events, especially if your audience manages to get your event trending. A study by ON24 suggested that 22% of respondents indicate they heard about the event via social media. We’ve written a more in-depth article on integrating social media with your live streams if you need some help. 

If you have any more stats you want to share or a something to add to the pros and cons argument then get in touch. And we’ll keep our eye out for more research about the virtual events market. (N.B. For a good debate on the ‘technology versus face-to-face’ argument, I found this article on BusinessWeek. Of course there are pros and cons each way and it’s all about individual business needs and what works for whom. But like it or not, this growing market will only get stronger and we all need to find better ways of meeting and learning online).