If 2015 was the year mobile live-streaming broke onto the scene, 2016 was the year that live-streaming became a game-changing weapon.
These days, you can't scroll your Facebook or Twitter feed without coming across a live-stream in some form - I, personally, have conducted over 1700 live streams since March 2015, including broadcasts with brands and at major events, including SXSW, CES and the 2016 Superbowl.
But at the same time, live-streaming is still not being utilized to full effect, particularly in relation to events and conferences. It's no secret that event professionals are often slow to embrace new technologies, but with streaming, there's also a level of conflict involved in how they use it. Their business, after all, revolves around selling tickets and monetizing their offline community, networking events and transformational experiences. The value of these elements is only available for those who attend the event in person, and it makes sense that event organizers would want to keep it that way.
But while the hesitation to adopt streaming makes sense, there's a big problem facing the event organizers and brands that host these offline experiences.
Increasingly, today's digital natives don't separate offline and online experiences.
For example, event hashtags have become a staple for events in recent years, but the use of tags to join in the related discussion is not as connected as enabling people to interact directly. Attendees are passively tweeting - mostly broadcasting - their experiences from the event, as opposed to engaging in real-time conversation as it happens, which is a functionality that live-streaming enables. And because that capacity is now readily available, and more events are using it, audience expectations are rising, people are growing to want that immediate connection which goes beyond tapping into a trending tweet stream.
This is why social video is an offline event gamechanger. Some of the biggest events in marketing - Content Marketing World, Inbound, Social Shake Up and Social Media Marketing World - have done a better job than most in creating online societies for attendees to engage year round, strengthening that relationship between the event and the attendees. However, this mindset is still focused on two different experiences: offline while the event is happening then online during the rest of the year.
Here are five ways event professionals can leverage live-streaming and social video to amplify their event communities and broaden the scope of their live events.
1. Provide production quality live-streaming access for paid digital attendees only
This enables events to maintain exclusivity while also increasing their audience by providing access to more people. You can stream directly to a private Facebook Group or event Page to control access.
2. Social video account takeovers by speakers
By utilizing speakers in this way, you can provide additional access to the event which doesn't encroach on the official, paid sessions, while also helping build buzz. This also gives speakers another way to boost their own profiles and promote their appearance amongst their networks.
3. Pre and post event affiliate offers for attendees
Again, this helps boost exposure and discussion around the event without broadcasting paid sessions. Essentially, this is an opportunity to create more content and generate more discussion amongst the social networks of attendees without having to commit the time and resources to doing it yourself.
4. Social video influencer collaboration and event influencer campaigns
Using established streaming creators can provide you with high quality content, broadcast to established audiences, to provide new perspectives on events.
5. Sponsorship of live video shows
This includes broadcasts around the event itself and weekly year round shows broadcasted on the events pages. This can help maintain the buzz and community elements of your event beyond the hashtagged discussion conducted during the official proceedings.
These are some simple, functional ways in which live-streaming can be used to boost live events and increase exposure without reducing the exclusivity for paying attendees. What's more, these live-stream discussions can give audiences a real taste of what your event is about, highlighting to others why they should consider attending your events in future.
The fundamental mind shift required for live video success is that perfection and control are not the focus when leveraging social video, and that social video, for the most part, won't replace existing content or experiences you're already creating. I refer to social video as "participatory content" as it's the connective pipeline that allows as close to an offline experience as possible while amplifying the event experience in an authentic, interactive way, which can help to build trust and advocacy with among attendees, speakers, and influencers.
I'm excited to be both speaking and building out strategies for events in 2017, and I hope that all events look at social video as the perfect solution to expand their offline event online.
A version of this post first appeared on www.iSocialFanz.com