At the start of the pandemic, many businesses and organizations were at a loss on how to keep their audience engaged when social distancing requirements and citywide lockdowns prevented in-person events. Socially distanced outdoor gatherings were great at the beginning. As colder weather approached, many of us had to get more creative.
Just like with new forms of socializing, professional interaction has evolved. Early on, the webinar had its heyday. It seemed like everyone was hosting webinars, Zoom happy hours, virtual screenings, online birthday parties and more. And it was working.
But as more and more office workers faced the reality of spending all day on Zoom or Teams or any of the myriad other video conference applications, facing a screen started to get taxing. We even wanted a break from seeing interesting people or those we liked on the other side. Webinar fatigue got real, and we all needed a break from the screen.
So, if webinars aren’t working for you these days, here are some ideas for expanding your toolbox. You don’t have to entirely scrap your webinar schedule; but this list can help identify more effective ways to reach people that don’t require eyeballs on screens for hours. Learn how to utilize the personal feel and other positives of a webinar when your target audience is a little burned out on Zoom as the delivery vehicle.
Identify the benefits of webinars
Webinars allow for a sense of normality when we can’t interact in person. Whereas we would usually go to a venue to listen to a motivational speaker or take a workshop, webinars offer many of the same benefits from home. An interactive platform allows viewers to feel like they’re part of something bigger during a very isolating time.
They also allow us to connect to leaders in our fields with whom we otherwise might not have regular access. Travel time and costs are moot when thought leadership can be consumed over electronic devices. In addition, webinars provide a unique networking opportunity. You might notice a particularly shrewd comment in the chat section and add that person on LinkedIn to grow your network.
Whichever medium you choose, it needs to have a personal touch and allow for the connection and dialogue we are so lacking during a historic – and midwinter – pandemic.
Assess the flaws of webinars
The problem is simple: People are on zoom all day and often won’t engage in remote events like they were at the beginning of the pandemic. What is it about webinars that feels more like a chore to some of us right now? Well, those of us working remotely are staring at a computer all the time anyway. Plus, our social battery and focus is unusually drained as we spend many hours a day trying to connect via video chat.
While live streaming and webinars are not going anywhere, they do have some flaws. Connection issues can derail even the most professional session. In addition, the hosts can’t always control how participants are going to interact. Real-time webinars open the door for errors or awkwardness if viewers are feeling quieter that day, or simply allow for people not to pay close attention to the material.
Find alternatives that draw from the best of webinars
It’s a good practice to diversify your content regardless of what is going on in the world. Offering a variety of mediums gives those who are hearing or visually impaired content formats that work best for them, and also allows you to connect better with audiences who have many different learning styles.
Here are five ideas you can try to reach new audiences:
1. Embrace the power of podcasts
Podcasting has the same off-the-cuff feel as a webinar, but it allows for easy audio editing and, perhaps, more polish. If your audience is growing weary of gazing at a screen, it still provides information they might not otherwise get but lets them listen to it as they wash dishes or go for a walk to get some fresh air.
A drawback of even the best livestreams or webinars is that they take place in a specific window. If your client is just getting off work or doesn’t have a typical 9-to-5 job, it can be hard to involve them in what might feel like another meeting. You want your content to feel like a welcome respite, not an additional burden, so read the room. If your usual subscribers are experiencing Zoom burnout, it may be time to try a podcast.
A great way to start a podcast is by identifying what knowledge your organization has to offer your peers or clients. Interviewing leaders in your field is a win-win; it allows you to produce quality content, and it establishes the interviewee as a prominent person in the industry. Make sure to encourage listeners to rate and subscribe to improve your rankings and visit your social media to keep up with the latest developments. Everyone engages differently, and auditory learners will thank you for including this option.
2. Video format is not off the table
Video is still a highly engaging medium. It just needs to be adjusted to better reflect the times. Provide the option to watch your livestream later, in addition to real-time viewing. Those who want to log on and interact have the option, but others who can’t make it can still experience the intimacy while leaving comments during their time off.
Bonus: Clip short highlights from the video to use as social media content promoting the full video. So much of communication is non-verbal. Keeping the visual aspect of webinars without the pressure to turn on your camera or speak up certainly helps.
3. Short-form video content
Remember to put captions on any video content and provide a transcript. This allows your audience to engage with your video content even if they can’t play the sound out loud or need assistance with auditory processing
4. Don’t write-off written content
The tried-and-true blog format will always be a content strategy staple. Alternate between in-depth articles like white papers and lighter pieces.
To combat eye strain during the work-from-home era, offer audio versions of your blogs. Not only does this make it easier for your clients and leads, but it’s more accessible for those with visual impairments. Don’t be afraid to combine mediums either; your blog can have a short video interview portion and contain eye-catching infographics.
5. In-person is on the horizon
With vaccine availability increasing and venues becoming more creative with their outdoor spaces, strategize how to create small, original, in-person events, even in the winter.
These intimate, safe events reconnect local businesses and build community, which is more important than ever. Rent heaters if necessary, and provide hot drinks, masks and hand sanitizer. This is a natural transition to our future with less social distancing restrictions and keeps your company on the audience’s radar.
Ready to reevaluate your content strategy during the pandemic? Contact us for all your content needs, and our brand journalists can help turn your business into a PowerPublisher.