Without doubt, one of the biggest issues for associations these days is membership recruitment and retention. It doesn’t matter if your association offers personal membership, organisational membership or a mix of the two; all associations face challenges when it comes to membership.
The acceleration of social media and technology over the last few years hasn’t made things easier either. Long gone are the days when associations were the ‘gatekeepers’ to knowledge and expertise as there are now all sorts of ways in which members and non-members can find information and network with one another through forums. But despite the competition, technology is also creating all sorts of new opportunities for associations to increase both revenue and membership engagement through events. In this post we focus on livestreaming.
Top 5 Considerations for Live-Streaming Association Events
Here are five questions for you to consider when it comes to making your decision on whether to use livestreaming technology to help your association. When you answer these questions, you will need to do so against the backdrop of the overall strategy for your association. As with any other kind of tech system you can use around your events, don’t do it if it doesn’t make strategic sense.
Do you want to extend your reach?
Livestreaming (or web-casting) what is going on at your conference to people that cannot be at the physical (conference) location enables you to reach a larger audience. After all, there is only so much capacity that a physical venue can accommodate without running into capacity and Health & Safety issues.
One association has been livestreaming their annual conference for a number of years now. The overall membership they have runs to many thousands of members who are spread throughout the globe. Year on year the number of people who come to the physical event is around 1,000. This association has taken steps to engage their members through making livestreaming an avenue for members to join in. Through tracking their remote delegate statistics they have discovered what type of session works best and what subjects are popular.
Do you worry about charging remote attendance?
Delegates that attend conferences (events) understand that they will need to pay for an admission ticket. After all, there is usually food and beverage available, then you have the networking opportunities and of course speakers need to be paid.
For some reason, many event organisers (associations) struggle with the idea of charging remote delegates to attend. Of course, it could be argued that remote delegates will not be able to enjoy the food and beverage or networking. But, they are still able to access the great content of the various educational or knowledge sessions and that in itself has a value.
People are used to paying for content on line. The days of free are really behind us now.
The only thing you need to do is set a level of pricing that is easy to understand and keeps a difference between those delegates that attend physically and those that participate remotely. Most registration systems like Eventsforce can help you create personalised registration journeys for different types of attendees (in this case, remote and live audience) – so you can easily decide which registration questions, agendas, sessions, prices and packages are going to appear to which attendee.
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Have you considered using an online host to engage your remote delegates?
A mini book could be written on how to engage remote delegates but for our post we look at the role of an online host to help engage your remote delegates.
Why an online host? Well, because they can provide commentary, updates and reminders for your remote delegates. The host becomes the link or the conduit for your remote delegates. They are the voice of, dedicated to and represent the needs and interests of the remote audience.
They add a dimension that will keep your remote delegates informed and engaged with all that is happening at your event as well as conducting interviews with ‘thought leaders’, speakers or delegates. The host can also be used to introduce pre-recorded video content and to manage dedicated Q&A sessions for the remote delegates.
Why not have sponsors for the livestreamed sessions?
Some associations will decide not to charge remote delegates to attend. Some associations will decide to charge.
But, whatever the charging decision is, there is another opportunity for associations to increase their income. They can do this through sponsorship.
The beauty of sponsoring livestreamed sessions is that after the conference (event) the on-demand recording of the session is still available to be played time and again. This is great news for sponsors as they suddenly have the opportunity of being promoted every time someone plays the session.
Associations could approach existing sponsors and offer them the opportunity of having their brand in front of a remote audience as well. For an extra fee of course.
Associations could approach new sponsors and offer just the ‘livestreaming’ sponsorship option.
Associations could break down all of the livestreamed sessions and target specific sponsors per session.
The opportunities for sponsorship are endless. What will work for an association will depend on what the overall strategic goals and objectives are. Sponsorship of livestreamed session has to align.
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Do you fear technology?
Every time you take a flight on a plane, step aboard a driver-less train or make a bank transfer you are putting yourself in the hands of technology. Some people will do these things without even considering the intricacies of the technology.
Livestreaming an event means that you also need to trust in the technology. Will it go wrong? Well it could. But then so could any technology. It is no different.
Companies specialise in providing livestreaming technology and they remain in business because they are constantly developing improvements to make sure nothing falls over. It is not in their interest for your event to have a problem.
Trust in the technology and the providers of it. They do know what they are doing.
But to give you peace of mind, run through all the questions you have about failures, performance indicators and back up plans. The providers will be happy to answer all your questions.
A final word
To take you back to the very beginning of this post when the issue was raised of the challenges of membership recruitment and engagement; here are five key questions when it comes to membership.
- How many members do you have?
- Do you struggle to retain members?
- What proportion of your members attend your events?
- Are your member numbers growing or declining?
- What are the long term aims of your association?
Take time to answer those questions and maybe you will find that using livestreaming could be part of the answer to help you boost revenue and membership engagement at events.
Whether you’re running an annual conference, educational workshops or a scientific forum for your association’s members, Eventsforce can help reduce your workload and deliver event success. Manage abstracts, sessions and registrations all in one place, with automated tools that save time and engage attendees. For more info, please click here.