Working from home has had its blessings and its hardships, and I know I’m not the only person with Zoom fatigue. But one benefit of working through the pandemic remotely, during lockdowns and quarantines, is that almost everybody is in the same situation. We all have access to similar technologies; we all have pets that hijack Zoom meetings; we all can benefit from the online pivot for conferences, seminars, and continuing education.
Whilst in-person events are expensive and limiting geographically, webinars are democratizing – sharing insight and information by allowing participants from anywhere in the world to plug-in and benefit. There is a lower cost of entry and no travel restrictions, so webinars have been convenient and affordable – and we’re all experiencing them in the same way.
You no longer have to travel to or live in the centralized hubs of business activity. Silicon Valley players are no longer confined to Silicon Valley. The exodus of experienced professionals from major cities might have caused housing prices elsewhere to rise, but it also means that places with large corporate migrants are benefiting from the return of well-trained and experienced professionals whether they’re returning to the Midwest from New York or being repatriated to countries with smaller economies.
Take, for example, a country like New Zealand, which sees its educated young professionals leave the country to find better employment opportunities. Since March, 50,000 Kiwis have returned to the country, favoring how New Zealand’s leadership has beaten back the pandemic and kept its economy open. Thus the country has gone from brain drain to brain gain.
Webinars have a lot of benefits for viewers, but just because they are more affordable and convenient for the viewer, doesn’t mean they’re easy for the host to put together. But despite all of the logistics to consider, from technology to time zones, they can be of great benefit to your business or personal brand, and you might want to consider taking part.
8 reasons why you should host a webinar or be a panelist
1. It’s a great way to pivot in-person events
2020 ruined most of our plans. The collapse of corporate travel caused by COVID has shattered the travel industry and cancelled major conferences and corporate events around the world. Webinars have, at least, allowed for some conferences and panels to take place online. So if your company had made preparations for an important presentation this year, take your work online, and introduce it to an even wider audience than you might have before.
2. To build brand awareness
Hosting and promoting a webinar is a great way to improve the brand awareness of your business. By hosting or paneling on a webinar, you can position yourself as an expert in your field and build your brand by associating with others involved in the webinar. You can seek write-ups and promotions from industry related organizations before the webinar, and engage with participants before, during and after to build longevity in your strategy and make the most of your presence and participation.
3. To encourage audience engagement
Creating a succinct, engaging and informative webinar takes time and energy. To make it easier, consider working with a partner, or a partner agency, to share the burden of producing meaningful content. This also helps expand your audience by leveraging your partner’s reach.
Come up with a social strategy to build audience engagement in social channels. You should include unique, special hashtags on Twitter for your events. Also, be sure to retweet content from your attendees in real-time.
You can also conduct a Q&A with a leading expert to cover lots of ground quickly, collect questions from a more engaged audience, and make sure that after the event you follow up with everyone that asked a question.
4. To build professional networks, business relationships, and leads
You can use a webinar to build your network with other industry experts by collaborating on the presentations with them, inviting them to do a Q&A, and building a rapport with them throughout the process. An added value of webinars is that if you require email addresses to send out invitation links, every viewer of your webinar gives you their email address and actively wants to hear from you. Most of those email addresses will be corporate email addresses and you can stay engaged with the participants easily by encouraging them to get in touch with you or reaching out to them with a follow-up email campaign.
5. To understand your audience and their needs
Webinar participation from attendees can begin long before you turn on your webcam. You can encourage registrants to ask you questions on social media or through your email address where you can get a feel for the topics and pain points that they want you to address. This information could be used to inform your presentation or it could be the basis for an email follow-up campaign that focuses on moving participants down your funnel as leads. If you can address your audience’s concerns more directly, they will be more likely to stay engaged with you.
6. To build trust and demonstrate expertise
I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Fred Vallaeys in the past few months. His company, Optmyzr, hosts a weekly webinar called PPC Town Hall, and he regularly appears on panels hosted by other companies. Although he is already a go-to subject matter expert, his participation in these events only builds on his authority in the field, adds further signals to search engines that he is an expert, and adds credibility to all the other panelists that contribute, just by association.
7. To build links and improve your SEO
Hosting and appearing on panels is a great way to build high-quality links that send traffic to your website and signal to search engines that your website is significant in its field. Appearing next to other industry experts online will also improve your authority, expertise, and trustworthiness (EAT) in the eyes of the search engine algorithms.
8. To plug your business (but don’t give the hard sell)
Educate your viewers first and foremost and provide insight and nuance in your industry understanding. This way you sell them not only on your expertise but also the depth of technical expertise required in the field, thus upping your value proposition. You don’t need to interrupt the flow of the webinar to play an advertisement for your company. You’re selling your brand just by participating and adding value.
When the dust settles
In-person conferences will eventually return, as will corporate travel and relocating for work, but we now know what’s possible in the digital marketplace and how it benefits everyone involved. Real-time, accessible webinars are a valuable tool to democratize the sharing of insights and information; they provide value to your organization and to the people watching you. So, invest in the technology to host your own webinar, participate in one, collaborate with other industry experts, and build webinars into your growth strategy.
Even if this isn’t the new normal, video content demonstrating your expertise will always be valuable. So experiment with it now, while it’s still relatively new and your audience is more forgiving, because a lot of us are trying our best to work from home.