How do you drive people to you and your business and how does all this technology impact how you have meetings? If you haven’t participated in an online meeting lately, this article should open your eyes to new possibilities. Webinars, teleseminars, and podcasting sites are all great tools to combine with your social media marketing.
Today, you can meet in your office with a group of 2 to 10 employees, but online you can meet with a group of 2 to 2,000 people from around the world. Come and explore the new world of online meetings to network, collaborate, and grow your business and brand.
Webinars and Teleseminars
The term “webinar” came about when someone had the idea to give a seminar over the web. These days, with the cost and inconvenience of air travel, webinars are not only an increasingly popular way to do a presentation, but you can also chat with a loyal following or announce a new product offering to your prospects, clients, and fans. Today’s webinars are different than those from five years ago, and there are some great sites to take a look at. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are saving time and money by delivering webinars to their clients and prospects.
Teleseminars are similar to webinars, but without the computer. A teleseminar takes a phone plus a seminar (or discussion) and it becomes a teleseminar. Participants are given a number to dial into, and the facilitator leads the call. The audience is typically muted so the facilitator can speak without interruption. No business is too small to host a teleseminar. You can even have one with no one on the line but still reach hundreds (if not thousands) of people.
Let me explain. I know many people who have done teleseminars with no one on the receiving end by prerecording it, then posting it on a website or blog or e-mailing it out to intended recipients. For teleseminars, you will still need to plan in advance, but you can promote the same way you do webinars. For topics, you can pretty much host a teleseminar on just about anything. People like teleseminars because they are easy to participate in—you just need a phone. They typically are free or for a low cost, and participants can still get a lot of information without investing a lot in travel time driving to and from the event.
Think you need to be a large corporation to host a webinar or teleseminar? Think again. Today’s entrepreneur and small business owner are successfully using the amazing technology available to talk with prospects and clients and educate fans on what they do. It’s another way to stay connected with people and share your expertise.
Still not convinced how could use a webinar or teleseminar? Check out these ideas:
- You want to announce a new product line at an upcoming conference. Have a webinar so you can show slides and talk about the event. A teleseminar can do the same thing, but without the slides or video.
- Participants love to hear from the owner or from the business itself because they hear your energy and enthusiasm.
- Webinars are a great way to show some statistics or pictures of a new product. In teleseminars, you can talk about the statistics and invite listeners (who are your prospects) to a website to see pictures.
- Are you an artist and have an upcoming show? Host a webinar/teleseminar and talk about where, when, and why you are doing the event.
- Are you a charity or an association? Have a webinar to talk about your organization. Show photos with statistics. Remember, people want to feel connected. Teleseminars can actually have the same effect because you can simply send your audience an e-mail document afterwards with photos and information.
- Do you own a winery? Or are you a photographer? Host a webinar/teleseminar showcasing your vineyard and upcoming events. Photographers can talk about upcoming specials or what companies and entrepreneurs need to know about how photography can really impact marketing.
- Are you a real estate agent or broker? Host a monthly webinar/teleseminar on “Seven Things First-Time Homebuyers Need to Know.” Or do a quarterly webinar on the state of the market in your region of the country. Share statistics and show photos.
- Are you a speaker or an author? Speakers can hold a webinar/teleseminar talking about their expertise and how someone can go about hiring them. Authors can talk about their background and discuss three takeaways readers will get from reading their book. Both could talk about upcoming speaking dates and promote their blog.
Tips for Hosting a Webinar or Teleseminar
When hosting a webinar or teleseminar, you must first be prepared. Know how much time you have to speak. Have a timer or clock in front of you and make sure you don’t go over the time. Everyone today wants succinct, to-the-point events. If targeting a variety of time zones, ensure that you are specific about which one is being used (for example, 9 pm Eastern Standard Time). However, do list all time zones and state what time the meeting starts in each one.
Other points to consider:
- Make sure you have the ability and know-how to mute the phone so listeners can’t hear, um, distracting noises. The sounds of dishwashers, phones, talking, and—yes—toilets flushing will ruin your call.
- Have a slide on the screen (if it’s a webinar) when they arrive. If it’s a teleseminar, have some music playing.
- Be enthusiastic (or at least warm!) and smile. The listeners can tell if you are bored and don’t care.
- Start on time and end on time or a few minutes early.
- Offer a special or incentive to participants for taking time out of their schedule to attend the webinar or teleseminar.
- If you can, record the event. Most services today have that option. This gives you the option to replay the teleseminar later or send it as an MP3 file. (Note: if you record a webinar with video or slides, it saves it as an MP4 file.)
- Take the opportunity to promote your other social media sites. Ask participants to follow you on Twitter. Connect on LinkedIn and Facebook and let them know about your blog. You should consider creating a hashtag around your webinar.
Promoting Your Webinar or Teleseminar
After you decide that you are ready to do some webinars and teleseminars to grow your business, you need to go back and promote them on all your social media sites. There are arguments for how much time in advance you need to promote your efforts; the bigger your webinar/teleseminar, the more in advance you want to promote. For our purposes here, let’s say you want fewer than 100 people on a webinar/teleseminar. You will want to start promoting about two-and-a-half weeks in advance. Avoid holiday weeks or weekends.
The best times will vary, depending on your audience and industry. Some webinars are done first thing in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, and even during evening hours. Know your audience and what time they will respond. You might have to either experiment or offer a few different times, or give people a survey to see what time most people respond to. A lot of these webinar and teleseminar companies offer the capability for you to record your webinar so people can play it back at their own convenience.
Promoting It on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook
Although I don’t advocate constant 24/7 self-promotion on Twitter, you can certainly promote your webinar or teleseminar there because there is something beneficial for those who attend. Typically, participants are going to learn something that is going to help them in life or in business. So promote your webinar on Twitter by providing a link to sign up for the webinar in a tweet. Ask staff members, your PR person, or your clients if they would promote the webinar or teleseminar. Typically, if you are connected to them via Twitter, they will retweet your tweet and spread the news to their network.
You can also promote your webinar/teleseminar in the events area on LinkedIn. If you are in groups on LinkedIn, let your groups know. You can also promote your webinar in your status update section. You can even create an event on LinkedIn promoting your webinar/teleseminar.
To promote your webinar/teleseminar on Facebook, simply put it in your status update or post an Animoto video about your event on Facebook.
Promoting Webinars/Telestminars in Other Ways
Here are a few more ides to get the word out:
- Promote it at the top or bottom of your blog a few weeks out. Add a link to where people can RSVP.
- Promote the webinar/teleseminar in your e-mail signature.
- Promote it on your voicemail and website for the week or two prior to the event.
- If you are at a speaking engagement, promote it there.
- If you are at a networking event, ask the host in advance if you can leave flyers about your webinar/teleseminar on a table.
Webinar and Web/Video Conferencing Service Sites
Here are just a few companies that can help you host a webinar; if you do a search on the Internet, you’ll find plenty of others.
GoToMeeting and WebEx
I like GoToMeeting because it’s easy to set up. They offer service for those having phone/web meetings of up to 15 people. Then, they offer GoToWebinar for those who need more space (up to 1,000 people), and an even larger solution for large corporations. There are monthly fees, so check their sites for a variety of programs.
WebEx is very popular within the corporate world for large formal presentations, but it still can be used by the entrepreneur or small business owner for groups of up to 25. It has a few more bells and whistles and there’s a bit more technology involved. WebEx also has a video conferencing service online.
InstantPresenter and ReadyTalk
A webinar, web, and video conferencing site, InstantPresenter (instantpresenter.com) is neat because of the video collaboration component. Say you begin talking and then want to introduce someone else, such as a strategic partner, collaborator, vendor, or another employee. Attendees enjoy seeing who is talking. You can also share screens and chat live (via text) on the site.
ReadyTalk has web conferencing, audio conferencing, and webinar and recording services. It prides itself on quality performance and customer service excellence.
MegaMeeting is a web and video meeting tool that allows you to share documents as well as control others’ computers to show them a live demonstration. You can have hundreds of participants and up to 16 video screens simultaneously. The site gets high ratings.
When starting out on your first teleseminar, know in advance it can be a little awkward. You will be talking and not hearing anyone responding back to you. Even simply getting used to talking without a live person in front of you is a bit uncomfortable.
There are many teleseminar companies to choose from, so first ask yourself what you can afford. Then ask friends and associates what they have used. Ask your Twitter or Facebook friends which services they recommend.
After you find one, see if you can do a trial run. An important question to ask yourself is it you just want to speak or if you want to open up the lines to get others talking. This is important because if you want to open up the lines and ask questions, you might need specific types of providers. Also, determine if you want to record the teleseminar and learn how to do this in advance. You don’t want to end the call and then realize somehow it didn’t get recorded. It is also important to understand the recording functionality in advance when selecting a provider as some offer it with their service, but for others it’s an extra charge.
Next, get comfortable with the teleseminar setup and features. Learn how to mute callers. Again, do this so you don’t hear unflattering noises in the background. Before you do your first one, log in at least 15 minutes early to get it set up and going. Just before you begin, send out a tweet (if it’s a public teleseminar) and invite folks to join in. Have fun!
Here are just a few of the teleseminar service providers:
- Maestro Conference: This is a really neat conferencing service for your teleseminar. It gives you the ability to put your teleconference listeners in individual chat rooms so they can talk among themselves or brainstorm about a project. This keeps your audience members more engaged.
- FreeConferenceCall: This takes minutes to set up. It provides you with a conference bridge and pass code so all participants can dial in.
- InstantTeleseminar: You can create an opening page for your teleseminar and a reminder page so participants can listen through a stream on their computer or by dialing in.
- Toll Free Conferencing: This service offers reservationless conferencing, operator-assisted conference calls, and much more.
If you haven’t done a podcast before, it can seem a little daunting. Don’t despair; after you’ve done it a few times, it’s not so bad. The word “podcast” combines the words “broadcast” and “iPod.” However, you do not need an iPod to produce a podcast. What you will need is a microphone and computer audio editing software, an RSS feed, and a website or hosting service to which you can upload your podcast.
When you create a podcast, you will want people to get it delivered to them automatically via an RSS feed. When you download a podcast, it’s in the form of an MP3 file.
One option is to use an audio editing program such as Audacity, which has a free audio editing program (audacity.sourceforge.net) that works with both Macs and PCs. To learn how to create a podcast using Audacity, view an easy-to-understand video on YouTube. Go to youtube.com and search for “creating a podcast with audacity” to actually see how it’s done. Once you have created your podcast, you can upload it to the Internet using podcastalley.com or podomatic.com. To create your podcast on other sites, you can go to blogtalkradio.com; your radio show can be used as a podcast.
Podcast.com is a hosting provider that can help you create a distribution format. If you have a WordPress account, use Podpress.org.
After you complete your podcast, remember to market it and upload it onto your social media sites. Facebook has the My Band application, so you can upload it there. Also, put it on your blog and on your website.
Tips to Remember
- Webinars and teleseminars are amazing ways to connect to individuals or groups of people around business hubs.
- Today’s technology lets you see, hear, and chat with people from around the world.
- Webinars, teleseminars, and podcasts can all be tied into one’s social media marketing strategy.
- Podcasting is relatively easy to do and offers another marketing tool to get the word out about your expertise and brand.