Check your email inbox.
I’ll bet you have at least one webinar invitation in there. Over the last couple of years, webinars have been multiplying like love struck bunnies.
Guess what? You won’t be seeing any more webinar invitations from Pushing Social.
I must admit that I’ve never been a fan of webinars. Even though we’ve had some successful ones in the past, I dread planning and hosting them.
Why Webinars Are Difficult To Pull Off
Here’s how webinar waterboarding works
- I decide to do a webinar
- Create a sign-up page that takes a week to finish
- Hook the sign-up page to the webinar tool – another day of tweaking and testing
- Write an email campaign to welcome new invites, remind them to attend the webinar, remind them again, and again.
- Practice the webinar and discover that the software doesn’t work with your presentation software. Tweak, test and cuss, then cuss some more
- Time to hold the webinar. 10% of the people who registered attend
- The audio cuts out for 50% of the time. The video cuts out for another 30%, another 10% leave 20 minutes into the webinar
- After the webinar, the other 90% who registered but didn’t attend want the video recording.
Frankly, I would rather photograph rabid kittens then go through this process 2-3 times a month.
This wasn’t how webinars were supposed to work.
What Webinars Were Supposed To Be
Webinars were intended to be a way to sell or offer the same information to large groups. Before webinars, people called into teleconference lines.
Webinars also added visual interaction adding video and desktop sharing.
A couple of years ago, webinars were novel and a game changer for early users.
Wrong-headed strategy from short-sighted marketers killed webinars. The format devolved from an effective way to teach, coach, and inform to a stage for thinly disguised pitches. It used to be that webinar hosts had the good sense to give substantive information first and offer something last. Not anymore.
Now the pitch starts at the beginning continues to the end. This overused format sapped the credibility out of webinars are rendered them useless.
Full disclosure: I used the pitch format on several of my webinars. I stopped when I realized that I was using the same garbage tactics I despised.
During my webinar hiatus, I thought about how to deliver great information to a small group in the most accessible way possible.
The answer, surprisingly, isn’t a new tool or format for webinars. The answer is an old-school method that you can use now.
What We Do Instead
Now, we are relying on video to coach, inform, and (sometimes) entertain our readers.
Yes, just plain old-fashioned videos.
These videos will be planned with the rigor of a summer blockbuster. They will be filled with actionable strategies and tools. They will be distributed on iTunes, YouTube, and Pushing Social.
Our working title is PS.TV. Watch Pushing Social for news on upcoming episodes.
We decided to set aside webinars for the moment and use video instead because –
Webinars are poor discussion platforms
It’s sadly comedic watching me host a webinar and keep up with audience questions. I ended up conscripting my 13-year old to watch the chat window and poke me if there was a major issue.
It didn’t work.
I finally turned off the chat window and left the questions to the end. But by that time, the original questioner, thinking the webinar was a live exchange, had left the webinar.
With the video-only strategy, we will set-up private Facebook groups to handle questions. This way I can answer thoroughly via video or text. Also, other participants can see the questions and answers enhancing their experience.
Scheduling Hassles are Eliminated
We upload the video and move on to promotion. No time zone scheduling hassles. No “I got the wrong date” mishaps. Participants can watch the video when and where they choose.
Evergreen Content Stays Relevant
I focus on evergreen/useful content that is as valuable 6 months from now as it is the day it’s published. It might mean less immediate traffic, but it means sticky traffic and also Google traffic that will add up to monstrous traffic later. – Tim Ferriss
Evergreen content is the foundation of a sustainable content strategy. Evergreen content focuses on core topics that are relevant for years rather than weeks. Webinars are promoted as topical – short-term events which hurt their relevance for someone a month or a year from now.
Videos can focus on a core topic and be made available for years. The questions generated by viewers can be turned into a PDF available to people who register to see the video. This long-term usefulness can be a game changer for your business.
Should You Abandon Webinars?
- Do you need to be live? The #1 selling point to webinars is that a “live” event can draw more people. But does your content need a live audience? Do you have a process for managing audience interaction during the webinar?
- Do you have enough audience to create the “Buzz Factor?” Organizations and brands with large online audiences benefit from word-of-mouth and social sharing. But if you have an audience of 200 people, it’s unlikely that the social sharing benefit will be valuable enough to justify a webinar.
- Is your content time sensitive? At times, you may need to comment quickly on a topic. You may also need to get your audience’s input. I suggest using Google Hangouts for this. Google Hangouts handles most of the logistics and will turn your discussion into a video that can be used on other channels. Pat Flynn filmed an excellent video on how to use Google Hangouts for SPI.
I’ve stopped using webinars because it doesn’t make sense for my business. Webinars, however, may work brilliantly for you. If so, stick with Webinars – better yet – create a course to teach others how to use them successfully like you!