Webinars allow you to bring members together without having to meet at a physical location. The benefits can include: elimination of travel time and costs, ability to record and watch later, and fewer logistics to consider without the need for a venue, meal planning, etc.
Here are some ways you can ensure a fantastic webinar for your members.
Choose a great topic – Make sure you have a specific topic in mind, and an outline to follow. Participants want to know what the webinar is about, and what benefits they will receive, so be sure to provide plenty of details in your communications. Additionally, be creative with the headline. A few of our recent webinar headlines include 5 Steps to Growing Your Membership Through LinkedIn and Advanced Google Analytics - Top 10 Things Your Chamber or Association Should Be Measuring (But Probably Isn't. These headlines are much more compelling than simply "How to Use LinkedIn" or "Google Analytics".
Create a schedule - Let your members know what topics are coming at least 3-6 months in advance by posting on your website and including in other communications. Decide if you want have a webinar monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, etc. and stick to it. Choose relevant topics, maintain accurate timing, and you will ensure a great turn-out. Don't forget to ask staff members to help you spread the word through their networks. If you have a guest speaker, ask them to share within their networks too.
Pick a webinar software – There are a lot of affordable options such as GoToWebinar or WebEx that offer a platform, support, and built-in features to make your webinars easy to use and functional. These programs make it easy for members to sign up, ask questions, and send automatic email reminders. It's also simple to record for sharing later with members who were unable to attend. There are many different platforms and products that offer these services, so shop around.
Have a goal and a strategy for reaching your goal – Create a goal that's easy to measure, such as number of attendees. You'll want to create a plan for reaching your goal including sending emails, including within your newsletter, sharing on social media, posting on your website, etc. Create a content calendar that includes when each communication will be going out.
Try social media ads - It might not be a great fit for every topic or organization, but if you're looking to attract an audience outside of your membership base, LinkedIn ads and Facebook ads allow for extremely targeted advertising so you can reach a certain geography or industry. Plus, you can set a spend limit so you'll never go over budget.
Engage attendees during the webinar - Since most webinar attendees are in "listen only" mode, it can be challenging to keep them engaged. Some webinar software allows you to ask poll or survey questions during the webinar so your attendees can participate from their computer. If they are able to interact with you during the webinar, they'll feel much more connected to the topic. Also, try offering a $10 gift card to the first person who sends you a Twitter message or posts on your Facebook page during the webinar. Usually, you'll be able to announce the "winner" in just a few seconds. Using tactics such as these lets your audience know you listening to them and helps keep their attention.
Offer a Q&A at the end – Question and answer availability can produce some of the most helpful information to your members. If you can't get to all of the questions, make a plan for following up later so no question gets left unanswered. At WebLink, we typically post an article on our blog with a list of FAQs so that everyone has access to this information.
Reuse your content – Don't just use your content for a single webinar. Consider how you can re-purpose pieces of your webinar content by writing blog articles, posting answers to FAQs on social media, sharing your slides on slideshare, or expanding on a popular webinar topic at your next event.
Record the webinar – Make sure those who can’t attend – or even those that could, but were interrupted – can gain the valuable information you are offering, but at a later date. Post the recorded webinar on your website or blog for those that could not attend but wanted to.
What webinar topics or strategies have worked best for your organization?