Why your conference live stream is pissing in the wind

Planning to live stream your 8-hour conference? Don’t kid yourself. The average attention span of a web page visitor is a whopping 8 seconds.

 

It’s going to be the best conference ever. You’ve attracted the speakers, generated the buzz and sold the tickets. In fact demand has been so high you’ve decided to bring the event online with a live stream embedded on your event site. All those folks who missed out on tickets will be able to follow the conference from work or home.

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Just pissing in the wind.

 

An insanely expensive live stream provider has set up no less than five cameras to capture every speaker’s word, wink and wrinkle in glorious HD. And you’ve been promoting the live stream all week so you’ve got a community manager lined up to handle all the chat questions and tweets you’re expecting. The best conference ever is going online.

 

So on the big day you find a minute to check out the event site during yet another compelling panel on the main stage. But to your horror, there are less live stream viewers than there are people on stage. And that community manager who came up with such a cool hashtag (#bestconferenceEVER) informs you that the only viewer comment has been “I can’t hear the audio properly and, um, that last presenter uses botox, am i right?“.

 

Goldfish have longer attention spans

 

And then it hits you: you’re spraying live, quality content online and hoping for the best. Your stream is just pissing in the wind.

 

Consider this: would you spend eight hours following a live stream? The average attention span of a web page visitor is a whopping eight seconds. That’s one second less than the attention span of a goldfish.

 

And here’s a less facetious factoid. Last year one of my clients, the European Commission, hosted an all-day event for several thousand (mostly young) people in Brussels and online. Of those who attended the onsite event, most stayed for 2-3 hours. Among those who joined the live streams and live chats online, the average stay was just 15 minutes.

 

Now, I don’t want to sound like Captain Hindsight, but instead of taking the lazy option of an all-day conference live stream that’s meant for everyone but connects to no-one, you should have packaged the stream as a series of live, 15-60 minute happenings that target (possibly different) audiences at scheduled times. People connect to the happenings they care about, not all-day events.

 

There is a better way

 

So zip up those trousers, hitch down that skirt and in future posts I’ll explain how you can transform events and content into realtime happenings online your audience wouldn’t want to miss. To receive occasional updates, leave your mail in the form below. I’m also spending more time on Twitter and Google+ these days so come, say hello.

 

Richard Medic blogs and consults at Happeningo.com. He’s also chief of happenings at Soonfeed.