I attend webinars on a regular basis as they are a great way to keep learning. These webinars are generally focused on social solutions and technologies, given by the experts of our day. Webinars have traditionally been a one-way communication vehicle but many take time for some Q&A near the end of the webinar, introducing some level of interaction, some level of social engagement.
Here are some of the social failures I have seen as well as my thoughts on simple changes that would make the webinars a social success. I share these examples because it’s important that you understand that there are few true experts in the space. We are all learning as we go, don’t be afraid to jump in and make a mistake or two.
Failing to engage with live streams
I will often tweet during webinars I attend. As a rule I will note the Twitter names of the participants and tweet the key points of the webinar. I include the expert’s name so they are tipped off that there is a conversation about them taking place. If you are running the webinar you should:
- Check out your Twitter streams, your Facebook page, and any other social channels you use. If you see your name being used, jump in and thank people for helping spread the message of the webinar. It’s a small effort and people appreciate it.
- If you do not have the the time during the webinar take the time after the webinar to respond to all the social traffic that took place during the webinar. Again, people are taking their time to participate in your webinar, recognize this, respond to questions, thank your promoters and engage your detractors.
Over the course of several webinars I have seen the following:
- After a recent IDC webinar the analyst took the time to thank me following the webinar. Simple touch, big social win as it was very much appreciated.
- After a recent Radian6 webinar, focused on listening and responding on social media, ….. Remember those crickets… Sometimes the experts are the worst at actually following through. I am not singling out Radian6 or the webinar expert but I did find the silence ironic.
- After a Helpstream webinar I was initially very impressed as the CEO took the time to respond to nearly every tweet. However, I noted that none of my tweets questioning Social CRM, asking about Social Support Communities, were ever responded too. In fact, while the CEO did great work by thanking and responding to the “supporters”, the detractor was completely ignored.
- To be fair, the CEO did eventually leave a note on my blog about the difficulty he had responding to every tweet. Of course, when I responded back asking for his thoughts on Social CRM, Social Support Communities, etc… Well, do you remember those crickets….
Differentiate your response
Following a webinar you generally receive an email thanking you for participating and providing you with links to additional information. This is a great way to follow up and extend the value of your webinar. However, build in some logic to take into account participation during the webinar (those that ask questions) and around the webinar (the social streams). Different mailing lists, different messages, big wins.
Keep adding value, don’t go into a selling frenzy
After attending a webinar from Lithium I had a sales person pester me via e-mail to chat about the Lithium solution, looking to quickly turn a positive webinar experience into a sale. I was frustrated with the approach but decided to take the time to let the sales person know I wanted to learn more about the company and pointed them to my blog…. Remember those crickets, never heard another word from the sales person.
Webinars are great educational tools and can be good lead generators for your business. Recognize that the world is changing and that you must participate socially as part of your webinar efforts. Remember too that the sales tactics of the past don’t work when it comes to social software… Focus on adding value and the leads will come.
Do you have other ways that webinars can become more social?