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Live streaming during an event: an opportunity or challenge?

Frédéric Gonzalo is a speaker and digital marketing consultant  

The ability to live stream sounds and images of events for target audiences has been around for several years. However, with the skyrocketing use of smart phones over the past few years, a small revolution in the event planning industry is taking place as live streaming is no longer an expertise coveted by professional AV firms. 

Today, thanks to Facebook Live, Periscope, YouTube Live and live Instagram Stories, live streaming technology is accessible to everyone. But is that a good thing?

What is live streaming?

Live streaming during an event: an opportunity or challenge?

Since April 2016, Facebook allows all of its users—individuals and companies—to live stream using a mobile device. This widely used feature, which is heavily promoted by Facebook since its launch, comes in response to other popular platforms, such as Periscope, Twitter, Blab and Meerkat (the latter two did not survive Facebook’s steamrolling competitive tactics). 

At the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, Facebook announced new improvements to its live streaming feature, notably the ability to live stream using a desktop computer and plan (configure) a future event. 

What are the typical or innovative ways brands and companies use live streaming? Here are just a few examples: 

  • Live streaming at an event to incite people to attend. Think home renovation, travel and car tradeshows or the grand opening of a store.
  • Interview with a guest speaker before he or she gets up on stage (behind-the-scenes access)  
  • Interviews with company employees, such as the HR director, VP of Operations, president or other manager 

Indeed, the majority of users will broadcast images of their day-to-day lives in order to highlight what happens at work or home. However, from a business perspective—particularly with events—live streaming can offer amazing opportunities, especially when management or event planners want to show a more natural or authentic side. 

The reason? Because they broadcast live, the finished product is less polished and more “raw,” which gives viewers a more real view. This should be the case until features are developed to make live streaming look more professional.  

Challenges

Live streaming during an event: an opportunity or challenge?

One of the biggest risks associated with this new social media trend is copyright infringement on live streamed content. Is one person or several people authorized to live stream your convention’s plenary session? Oftentimes, this aspect is part of an official contract between speakers and event planners; what event organizers can or cannot broadcast is part of a negotiation and legally binding terms and conditions. 

Another risk involves respecting people’s privacy. Some meetings or conferences address confidential or highly sensitive topics. As an event planner, you have to determine if your client would want to view all or parts of discussions on the web and social media.

Furthermore, live streaming an event can involve other legal implications with respect to how you monetize it. Oftentimes, delegates must pay an entrance or registration fee to attend an event and gain access to the content that will be presented. However, if the content is broadcasted for free on Facebook or YouTube, your event will lose its value and appeal—even more so if you charge people to access the content via webinars. 

Social Media Marketing World, an industry conference, had to address this very issue in 2016. It’s interesting to understand the organizers’ approach and how they diplomatically resolved the challenges of live streaming at their event—much to the delight of all stakeholders. 

Opportunities

Of course, not everything about live streaming is bleak. As was the case with last year’s Social Media Marketing World, the important thing to do is address live streaming at the onset of planning your event rather than put your head in the sand or manage issues on a case-by-case basis. 

By putting together a well-thought-out policy, you can allow people to live stream your event based on parameters that both organizers and participants will appreciate. You need not ban live streaming all together. You can give people permission as long as they respect your rules. 

As mentioned before, live streaming allows you to promote and showcase your event with a wide audience—the social media followers of your attendees. Without live streaming, you would simply not be able to target these people using your event’s official social media accounts. 

Live streaming allows you to promote and showcase your event with a wide audience—the social media followers of your attendees. Without live streaming, you would simply not be able to target these people using your event’s official social media accounts. 

Planners who organize conferences and conventions should leverage the potential of live streaming and determine how to use it base on three key phases: 

  • Before the event: You can live stream an interview with a speaker or show how organizers are setting up the meeting room before the event. In other words, use live streaming to boost registration levels and get participants stoked on your event. Why not live stream a walk-through of the hotel or convention centre to show what interesting attractions or services are nearby? 
  • During the event: At this point, show how excited everyone is as the event starts. Live stream coffee breaks or work sessions, for example. Interview speakers after their talks to get their feedback or allow them to provide more information about questions they answered.   
  • After the event: Live stream to thank delegates or invite them to the next edition of the conference, which will take place in Québec City or another destination. You can even have organizers comment on the event’s success. 

Remember that even though you have live streamed an event and its many aspects, you can re-use the videos on your Facebook page or elsewhere, such as a blog. This make for great content in the future.

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Frédéric Gonzalo About Frédéric Gonzalo

Frédéric Gonzalo, Speaker and Digital Marketing Consultant.

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