When more than 1,000 leaders from the business events industry came together for the PCMA Education Foundation's Visionary Awards last week, the action wasn't confined within the walls of the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. Thanks to Facebook Live, members of the PCMA community who weren't lucky enough to score a ticket to the redesigned sold-out awards gala were able to get a glimpse of the action.
“Our Education Foundation team redesigned their annual awards dinner to the new and exciting Visionary Awards. Not only were they honoring 3 Lifetime Achievement Honorees, but they were also announcing 4 Professional Excellence awards Live! We knew we could do more with the on-site action than than simply posting photos and sharing videos after everyone went home,” Corey Fennessy, Senior Manager, Marketing, says. “Facebook Live was initially available for a select group of VIP accounts to use, but they recently opened the feature up for everyone. We felt like the Visionary Awards were a perfect time to experiment with this type of online engagement.”
Powering Engagement With An iPhone
It’s safe to say the experiment was a success. The top videos from the Visionary Awards collected nearly 3,000 views. However, these videos weren’t the typical high-production quality some might expect to see from an awards gala. Fennessy says that Facebook Live is a simple low-budget solution. “There’s less production, and it feels more authentic,” Fennessy says.
“User-submitted videos on YouTube have helped online viewer expectations evolve,” Fennessy adds. “So, people are willing to forgive a little decrease in quality because they can see the event live. They are happy to be part of the action.”
From informal interviews in the red carpet with convention industry leaders like David Peckinpaugh and Tony Lorenz to full streams of acceptance speeches from award winners, Fennessy’s coverage of the event gave business events leaders and meeting professionals a chance to see their peers on one of the industry’s biggest nights.
WATCH: Check Out Coverage From The Visionary Awards
In addition to bringing the virtual PCMA community together during the Visionary Awards, Facebook Live creates the sting of the fear of missing out for those watching at home. “No matter what type of event you’re producing, you want to inspire the audience members who were unable to attend,” Fennessy says.
PCMA’s coverage created the four magic letters of FOMO, and more importantly, much of Fennessy’s work will live on to continue to spread the word. Unlike Periscope — which only preserves videos for a 24-hour period — Facebook Live videos remain on an organization’s page. “People don’t have to view it live,” Fennessy says. “They can go and discover what they missed on their own schedules, too.”
7 Tips To Leverage Facebook Live At Your Event
No matter what type of event, meeting or conference you produce, you’re aiming to motivate the audience members who didn’t register to reconsider in the following year. Live streaming via Facebook can play an important role in your marketing plan. If you’re going to get on the Facebook Live bandwagon, remember these key tips from PCMA’s first-ever test.
1) Test for audio. “Take into account the number of people in the room and potential chatter surrounding your interview,” Fennessy says.
2) Invest in visual help. Filming a 12-minute acceptance speech is going to make anyone’s hands tired. Fennessy recommends using a tripod to capture interviews and long portions of an event. Amazon sells this affordable attachment for smartphones.
3) Count on your on-site teammates. While Fennessy captured the interviews on her own, she had plenty of support before the event. Peter Wigren, PCMA’s Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy and Integrated Media, assisted with testing Internet speeds and audio. They set up a private Facebook Live test stream to avoid any potential public mishaps. Wigren also assisted with gathering willing participants for the live interviews.
4) Be ready to make adjustments. Even after testing the connection, Fennessy and Wigren were forced to change their game plan. “Wi-Fi in the lobby and ballroom were great the day before the event,” she says. “But when 1,000 people packed into the ballroom and connected to the network, we switched to using our cell phone data LTE connections.”
5) Have more support at home. In addition to working with Wigren on-site, Fennessy counted on PCMA’s Staci Wuokko and Mary Reynolds Kane to help monitor comments. “When you’re busy at an event, especially live streaming, it’s great to have someone watching what’s happening online from afar,” Fennessy says. “They can reply to posts and comments to drive the conversation among viewers.”
6) Be ready to share. Because Facebook is built to capitalize on what people are talking about and sharing at any given moment, it’s important to find influencers within your community that will be ready to help share, like and comment. Their activity will increase awareness and maximize your real-time reach.
7) Have fun. Remember that your audience is behind a screen, and they aren’t looking to feel too serious. So, have fun, be personable and relax.
Looking for more help with your marketing plan? Check out “3 Lessons To Strengthen Your Meeting Marketing Strategy.”