When hosting virtual events, sourcing the right digital environment for a brand's unique needs is crucial for success. But with the range of options out there, it can be challenging to choose the best one for you.
Streaming sites like YouTube or other social media sites are great for novice marketers or those who already have dedicated audiences on these channels. But many planners need an event technology platform that is more tailored to their needs. In this article, we will look at a few pros and cons of streaming and event platforms so you can see which you need for your next event.
Event platforms vs. live streaming platforms
An event platform is an online space where event organizers and planners can plan, organize, market, and host online events. These platforms are flexible and allow for a range of functionality to facilitate ticket sales and host all digital functions like live chat, video, and other networking opportunities. The main features of an event platform include marketing and promotion strategies like event branding, social media integration, selling event tickets online, and more.
On the other hand, live streaming platforms are popular because they are easy to use and let you communicate directly with the audience instead of making you create a separate account on different event platforms. Live streaming platforms also open doors to interacting with a broader audience since platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram Live are available to people worldwide.
Pros and cons of using an event platform
The following are some of the benefits and disadvantages of marketing on an online event platform:
Pro: Business integrations
With an all-in-one event platform, you may be able to integrate your platform with your company's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system allowing you to streamline the event project, be more time-efficient, and remove the stress of testing multiple platforms. You can also view a range of marketing metrics through the dashboard that offers essential information on ROI, as well as your clients and sponsors.
Pro: An all-in-one platform
A significant advantage of using an event platform to host your event is the numerous features included. For example, with automated synchronization, event hosts can collect leads, connect with their audience through email and social media integrations, and even network with other companies.
Every stage of your event planning and execution must go smoothly, from marketing to registration. You may need a platform that integrates all of these in one, including handling ticket sales. If you’re not getting an all-in-one solution, make sure to look for payment software that comes with important features like cross-platform compatibility and customizable branding templates for your events.
Con: No backup
It’s great to have an all-in-one platform, but the disadvantage lies in the fact that it is up to you to fix any unexpected technical glitches or system dysfunctions. If you fail to do that on time, it can reduce user satisfaction and turn your audience away from future events.
What’s more, once the live event is over, it is gone. You don't have any other backup system. Before choosing an event platform, make sure it comes with a reliable contingency plan for such issues.
Pros and cons of using a live streaming platform
Streaming platforms like YouTube and Discord are only becoming more popular. Especially during the pandemic when more people shifted to online interaction, companies saw the rising need to host online events accessible to all. There are many benefits of using online streaming platforms:
Pro: Widely available
Streaming platforms are available to a global population, and viewers can participate in online events without having an account on these platforms. In this way, the live event can gain more reach, which is excellent for marketing. Additionally, viewers can leave comments and even watch the video after it ends rather than in real-time.
Pro: Convenient to use
Streaming platforms are easy to operate. Once your live event is ready to air, all you have to do is stream the content for viewers. There might be a few additional features to consider, such as allowing public comments or invite-only aspects of event technology. But these streaming platforms are generally quite user-friendly for non-technical users.
Pro: Track analytics
Many professional streaming services allow users to use tracking analytics tools and features to evaluate the outcome of an event. The number of viewers who attended the event, the number of comments, and the number of people leaving the event part way through are all important metrics that will help you gauge what your customers want from you and improve your company's future events.
Con: Difficult social media integrations
When your content is spread across multiple platforms, it is important to ensure that it is properly integrated so your data synchronizes and operates seamlessly. You can use an additional platform for integrating social media plug-ins; however, that would cost you extra time and effort. Streaming platforms won’t do all of this for you the way all-in-one event platforms will.
Which platform should you choose?
The kind of platform you want depends on individual objectives. That's why it is essential first to know your core goals for hosting an event and what you plan to achieve. Also, figure out if previous live sessions achieved the desired results before moving on to your next event.
It is also important to consider the type of event you're planning to host. For example, some virtual events may require a particular technology stack, while others may require an all-in-one platform for a more creative and immersive experience. If you are planning to host a long or ongoing experience, an event platform is likely to be more suitable.
Another thing to consider is the streaming quality. If you're hosting large-scale corporate events, ensuring a high-quality streaming standard will offer credibility and authority to your event. Any network slowdowns of security breaches with your streaming solutions will not bode well for your event.
Your budget is also a significant factor in deciding on the right platform. Both paid and free web hosting services are available for your website, but using free servers to save money might not be safe if you’re expecting a lot of traffic or are concerned about security. Online marketer and web developer Nathan Finch of Best Web Hosting Australia advises that you avoid using free web hosts for your site:
"These options commonly use shared IP, which is extremely easy to hack and has a high likelihood of being otherwise compromised," says Finch. "Your website will be hosted on the same servers with many spam blogs that Google generally looks down upon. While these might be cheap, they will be slow with long downtimes and poor customer support."
Finally, consider mobile compatibility. There is a strong possibility that most of your audience would like the option to watch your events from their phones or tablets instead of their desktops. This is why it is vital to ensure you choose a live streaming platform that is easily compatible with mobile devices.
With hybrid working environments on the rise, virtual events will be the next big thing for brands to excel in. Both event and streaming platforms have their benefits, so it's worth researching your options for each type to see what will suit your event best. Both options can be a valuable addition to your event planning toolbox, depending on what your company needs.