November 23, 2021 - By David Weedmark

eCommerce Week: How to Pick the Right Platform for KPI-Crushing Virtual Events

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From one-on-one video conference meetings to blockbuster interactive pro sporting events, hosting virtual and going digital continues to be a popular way for people to get together safely. However, just as with any other platform, it’s important to use the right tools. 

If you’re hosting a company webinar or talking to clients one-on-one, a video conferencing app like Zoom, or other alternatives, is usually your best choice. But if you’re hosting a digital event for thousands of viewers and you want to put on a show for your audience, then a platform like Maestro, which gives you engagement tools and customization options for monetization and sponsorship opportunities, is by far the best choice. Let’s explore why. 

Zoom

With more than 300 million users every day, Zoom is synonymous with video conferencing. Since work-at-home became a necessity in 2020, Zoom is often used as a verb to describe video conferencing, the same way Google is used to describe searching online.

Zoom is easy to use on laptops and mobile devices. It’s a great platform for one-to-one meetings, conferences and large groups. You can share your screen, go voice-only, chat, and even change your background to a custom image without the hassle of getting a green screen.

Zoom’s free plan offers unlimited person-to-person meetings and only caps group meetings after 40 minutes and 100 participants. The pricing of its paid plans starts at just $15 per month.

Who Should Use Zoom

Zoom is an all-around great fit for just about any organization, regardless of size. Its easy-to-use interface has been the winner for two years and it offers consistent video conferencing features that will ensure it is the standout for at least the foreseeable future. A 2019 survey indicated that more than 50% percent of Fortune 500 companies relied on Zoom for video conferencing. 

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams began as a chat tool in Microsoft 365, designed for business users who collaborated using Microsoft Office applications, and soon had video chat added as a feature. 

Today, Microsoft Teams is still used within the Microsoft 365 environment, so users can share calendar meetings and collaborate on Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and other Office files. Chats are designed to be archived and are easily searchable. So if you’re working on a project, for example, you can go back days or weeks to reread conversations with your peers.

Microsoft Teams, however, is not limited to the Microsoft Office environment. On its own, the platform allows up to 10,000 people to participate in video conferences. You can share your screen, record calls and manage group chats. It’s supported on Windows, Macs, and mobile devices. 

Who Should Use Microsoft Teams

If your organization has adopted Microsoft 365 for its office requirements, Microsoft Teams is a perfect fit for video conferencing. Even home-based users on a Mac can install Microsoft Teams, so there is no barrier to entry for anyone. 

Google Meet

Originally Hangouts Meet, Google Meet is a video conferencing app that works with Gmail, YouTube, and Google Voice. It runs on most web browsers as well as on mobile devices. It features a fast interface that can support meetings of up to 250 people and can live-stream video to 100,000 viewers. With a G-Suite account, you can record meetings and store them on Google Drive. 

While Hangouts Meet was limited to viewing up to four people at once, Google Meet now allows you to see up to 16 participants on the screen at the same time. It gives you the same screen sharing and voice-only options as the other video conference platforms.

Who Should Use Google Meet?

Google Meet is a great video conferencing solution for organizations that have already integrated Google Docs, Google Calendar, and other Google apps into their organizations. It’s particularly worthwhile for companies that use G-Suite Enterprise, since this subscription gives you the ability to give each meeting a dedicated dial-in number for audio-only participants. 

Virtual Event Planning

If you’re hosting a digital event at the last minute, or if the event is for employees only, using a video conferencing app is probably a decent choice. You’re likely already using one for team meetings for at-home employees, so you wouldn’t have to worry about setup. It’s much the same as holding an emergency meeting in your building’s cafeteria — everyone knows how to get there, it has enough chairs and nobody needs to worry about what to wear. 

For hosted events that involve customers, fans or prospects, video conferencing software isn’t as appealing. Certainly, there is nothing to stop you from using these apps. In fact, a lot of companies use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet for just that. 

If you’ve ever tried to participate in such an event, or watched a rebroadcast on YouTube, you understand that the cafeteria metaphor fits all too well. These events are always the same — old school webinars re-dressed as digital events that offer the appearance of being interactive for anyone who can type a question in the chat window fast enough. 

The Medium Is the Message

When Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, “the medium is the message,”  part of what he meant was that the medium you choose tells your audience more than anything you plan to say. This is why Tiffany’s doesn’t hand out free T-shirts and why Michelin restaurants don’t put flyers on windshields. 

If you’re currently planning a live event, it’s most likely that you’re concerned with every detail, ensuring the schedule is well-paced, that your speakers and panels will be prepared and that your in-house audience will convey enthusiasm that can be shared by your digital guests.

Unlike a video conference app, an interactive video platform gives you the ability to control every facet of your audience’s experience and allows you to ensure that they get the level of participation they expect, regardless of where they are. 

Maestro

Maestro is an interactive video platform designed specifically “for creators looking to own, engage and monetize audiences.” It allows you to generate deeper connections with your fans by providing them with personalized experiences as they interact with your event. 

Own Your Audience

Unlike video conferencing apps, Maestro allows you to control and customize the entire viewer experience. This begins by letting you port your stream through any platform you wish, including your own website. Not only can you customize branding with logo placements and color schemes, you can place panels and pop-ups strategically, to provide interaction and offer context. You can also drive action at key moments in the broadcast with clickable calls to action. 

Maestro gives you a host of developer tools, including APIs and SDKs that allow you to create custom panels and overlays within the feed. You can embed other videos into the live stream from other platforms. You can also integrate third-party authentication tools to help you identify viewers based on your own data, like key customers from your CRM software. 

Because the platform was developed with broadcast events in mind, it can be customized for specific types of events such as the following:

  • Conferences
  • Gaming 
  • Fashion
  • Education
  • Esports
  • Music
  • House of Worship
  • Politics

Engage Your Audience

During your digital event, Maestro’s dashboard provides you with real-time data that allows you to understand what keeps viewers watching longer so that you can keep them coming back for more. For example, Maestro gives you the ability to use raffles, quests, or other achievements to reward your audience for participating, or to incentivize participation in panels with their own questions or comments.

Monetize Your Audience

Maestro gives you tools to measure the strength of your audience’s engagement through watch times, retention and spend. Its audience database doesn’t just give you view tickers but offers an analysis of the people behind the numbers that allow you to optimize messaging during the broadcast. You can offer purchase opportunities directly within the platform, allowing them to click the offer and go through the checkout process without having to leave your live stream.

Once the broadcast is finished, all the data you collected during the event is saved in the audience database. This makes it easy to remarket to them with precision once the event is finished.

Watch Maestro in Action

If you would like to see Maestro in action, ask for a free demo. We witnessed Maestro in action during eCommerce Week LA 2021, where we used Maestro for a whole week of action-packed events starting September 27th.

David Weedmark is a published author and e-commerce consultant. He is an experienced JavaScript developer and a former network security consultant.

Sources

Maestro: Sports

Zoom: Video Webinars

Microsoft Teams: Group Chat Software

Google Meet: Learn What’s New in Google Meet

Maestro: Contact

Hawke Media: eCommerceWeek LA 2021

Pocket Lint: Zoom vs Microsoft Teams vs Google Meet