Restrictions on mass gatherings in Alberta are in place until at least the end of summer, but there are options for organizations that still want to engage with their audiences. Online events, which can include virtual tours, live music, speakers, performances, panel discussions, webinars and more, provide ways to engage with new and existing audiences. Below are four simple tools to help host your next online event.
Facebook Live and Instagram Live
Two of the simplest – and free – online event options may already be on your computer and smartphone and work well for more casual, DIY events that don’t require presentations or lots of supplementary material. Facebook Live and Instagram Live allow you to connect with your audience without having to sell tickets or do a great deal of set-up beforehand. Even though these are not ticketed events, it’s beneficial to promote your live session in advance to boost the number of people who will tune in. Both platforms also allow you to add guests to the video, which can be used if your event requires an interview or featured performer, for example.
Facebook Live is accessed by clicking the “Publish” icon and then choosing “Live Video.” You can then add a title and description for your video and start broadcasting live. During your broadcast, make use of the comments section to drive engagement and conduct Q&As. As the presenter, you have control over aspects of the comment section, such as how frequently viewers can comment or allowing only your followers to interact. Click “Finish” to end the recording. The recorded video can then be shared on your timeline to reach more viewers or promote your next Facebook Live. Tip: Encourage viewers to turn on their Live notifications so they don’t miss your next event.
Instagram Live is accessed by tapping the camera icon in the top-left corner of the app and then swiping left in the camera options to highlight the “Live” option. The app will alert your followers that you’re live, and you can keep track of how many people are watching as you go (Facebook provides this feature as well). Similar to Facebook, you can (and should) engage with your audience through the comments feature – Instagram Live is all about connecting with your audience in an authentic way. Enhance the look of your broadcast with visual templates to incorporate elements of your brand. When you’re finished your broadcast, you can save your video and share it to IGTV or your Instagram Story – just be aware that it will be broken into 15-second clips on your story and only available for 24 hours, unless saved to Story Highlights.
According to Hootsuite, more than 500 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. Using the live feature is a way to stand out and add interactive and engaging elements that go beyond standard video. You’ll need to set up a channel before you can go live, and it can take up to 24 hours for your account to be activated for live streaming. You also need 1,000 or more subscribers to stream live from a mobile device. There are plenty of tutorials to help you get set up for live streaming, but be sure to have a title, description and thumbnail image ready before you get going.
YouTube Live works well for tutorials, performances, interviews and other similar events. It can also be used as an integration platform for webinars hosted through Zoom and BigMarker. Promote your live broadcast with a banner image on your YouTube channel page or your other social media platforms, especially if your channel is new. Don’t forget to provide a link to your channel as well as the specific date and time (including time zone).
View examples of current YouTube Live videos here.