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What Can Event Organizers Learn About Livestreaming From Star Wars?

Traci Browne
Mar 04, 2016

Are you still grappling with ways to add a virtual component to your events?

Event and conference organizers understand there is an audience who, for whatever reason, cannot attend in person but still want to be a part of the action.

We know that many events have used virtual reality to drive attendance to future events by giving a wider audience access to all of, or even just part of the in-person event.

However, complicated and expensive livestreaming solutions are not the only way to invite the virtual audience to participate in your next event. You can get your audience to participate in your event via social media. We’re not just talking hashtags and watching from the sidelines here either. We’re talking about real participation.

When Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens held its official premiere last December, Verizon presented the official livestream of the red carpet ceremonies. However, this was not just a chance for fans to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars. They got to interact with them.

Verizon gave their customers an opportunity to ask cast members questions through Twitter using the hashtag #TheForceAwakens. The chosen questions were then posed to cast members and those questions were answered right there, live, on the red carpet. One fan asked director J. J. Abrams if he could live on any planet in the Star Wars universe what would it be?

Event organizers can talk a page from Verizon and Star Wars’ social media playbook and do something similar for your events.

It’s likely you have the Crème de la crème of your industry’s thought leaders presenting at your event. You can set up and promote scheduled livestreams throughout your event where your virtual audience can ask keynote speakers and session speakers their burning questions. You could use Periscope for the livestream and set up a special hashtag on Twitter to curate the questions.

For example, you might schedule your livestreams to run immediately after your general sessions where the speaker gives a two to three-minute synopsis of the main points covered in his or her talk, and then field questions the virtual audience submitted.

To Make It Work:

   •   You must heavily promote what you are doing in advance. This isn’t something you can wing if you want it to succeed.

   •   Choose the right platform for the livestream. Your virtual audience should be able to access it from either their desktop or mobile device.

   •   Set a time limit for questions to be submitted. That gives you a chance to select the best questions to throw to the speaker.

   •   Make it exclusive. Let your virtual audience know that this livestream is made especially for them.

   •   Set up a red carpet quality location. Include an event branded backdrop and quality lighting, so you’re not shooting in the dark.

You do not have to be a big Hollywood blockbuster premier to engage your virtual audience. Remember, in this industry, speakers and thought leaders have star power of their own. Take advantage of that, and it might just be the thing that helps drive attendance for your next event.

Oh, and in case you were wondering - J. J. Abrams said that he would choose to live on Endor, but only if there was an "Ewok-free" zone. He doesn’t dislike Ewoks; he just doesn’t want them around all the time.

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