Building an Audience with How-To Webinars
Use webinars as part of your overall social media marketing mix, to impart knowledge and interact with external learners.
By Mark Swartz
Many small businesses market their expertise. From accountants to plumbers, services are provided by trained professionals.
By sharing their knowledge you can build an audience for your offerings. One way of doing this is to create how-to webinars in your fields of specialty.
It’s not hard to master the technology. It will take time to develop interesting course material and market each webinar properly.
A webinar is a form of eLearning that’s similar to its offline cousin, the seminar. It’s hosted as a virtual meeting where you and a group of learners come together.
There are many online services that simplify the process so that all you need to do is plug in your microphone or hook up your Web camera and speak.
The content can be focused to an internal audience (i.e. used as a training tool). Or it can be for reaching out to customers and suppliers, providing specialist insights considered valuable by participants.
Technology You’ll Need When Preparing
Three essential pieces of equipment are needed. One is a decent quality web cam (the version built in to your laptop, tablet or mobile phone might be adequate, but you want to broadcast at high resolution so as not to look jerky or amateurish).
Next is a good microphone. It has to capture your voice crisply and cleanly
Lastly, webinar software must be sourced. Among the features to look for are cross-platform utility, simplicity of use, costs involved, and audience capacity. You must also decide if the broadcast will be just texting and chat only, include voice and presentation slides, or video streamed to your audience.
GoTo Meeting and Webex are two popular programs. Among many other providers are Join.Me and AnyMeeting. They all have difference price ranges and advantages.
What’s the first rule in creating impactful content? Know your audience. It’s their needs you’re trying to meet. Understanding their knowledge gaps and level of language helps target your material.
Think of a webinar as a mini-course. It will start with an introduction to the topic and an overview of learning objectives. Then comes the body of knowledge to be shared.
Feel free to repurpose your existing content into the presentation. Relevant excerpts from your blog, white papers, videos, and slide presentations are fair game.
Spicing It Up
Inject stories, humour and facts. Tell brief anecdotes that anchor the learning material to relatable situations. Show video for hands-on demonstrations. And always leave time for questions at the end. It’s an excellent way to elicit audience participation.
Be sure to keep the time to an hour max. That forces you to focus on key parts, and allows the audience not to get overwhelmed (or bored).
Unless you’ve hosted a webinar before, do a mock version before going live. Get comfortable with the software’s main features. A dry run lets you test out the program, and see as well where your delivery could be improved.
Work on reducing your nervous umms and ahhs. Have you included enough slides, images and key points? Also, locate a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed while running the class.
Connecting With Your Audience
A how-to webinar is a social media marketing activity. The goal is to enhance your brand by showcasing your unique or superior expertise. For this you need viewers.
If you plan on doing a live session, give invitees advance notice. Have them sign up by email even though it’s free. Send them a reminder on the day of the presentation too. Many webinar programs have this function built in.
Always record the seminar, whether live or not. Afterward, socialize it on YouTube, SlideShare.com, your blog or website, and other social media like Snapchat. As more people benefit from the knowledge you’re sharing, opportunities will grow to generate additional customer leads.