Last week, I shared my feelings about how online events are boring (I included ways to make them better). And today I’m following up with my much anticipated review of seven virtual event platforms. Brella, Crowdcast, Hopin, Livestorm, StreamYard, Unhangout, and Zoom. The full review, in its very long lengthiness can be found on this Notion page. Below is a quick snapshot of the “research findings.”
Also I just want to say: We’ve been sheltering in place now for 6–7 weeks and trying to figure out how to function as avatars. I’m proud of all of you and I’m sure it has been an emotional roller coaster. If anyone out there is thriving right now you’re a bot.
The main takeaways re: virtual event platforms
- They’re all similar. For planners and attendees, some sites will provide a better overall experience. Some have interesting features (you can download the speaker presentations in Livestorm). Some are boring (spoiler alert; it’s Zoom).
- You have to pay to play. Nothing is free in this world. Pricing varies based on what kind of event you’re planning, from $20 to $2000 a month with different deals and add-ons. Basically, more viewers more money. A few platforms only want you to sell tickets, so they can take some $$$ from you. I am not sure how I feel about paying for an online event, since they’re so boring LOL.
- None of them are cool. There isn’t one platform I tested that really gets design — visually or experientially. Customization is limited, and that sucks because I am a big fan of customization. I’m keeping my eye on SplashThat, an event marketing software that provides an incredible user experience for event producers with design sensibilities. They are building a virtual event platform that will tie into the registration system and they’re in Beta mode.
- In the end, it’s not about the tools. It’s about pre-production, planning, creativity, and content. If you can be organized and creative, and you have really great material to work with then your event will be memorable, whether it’s online or in-person.
Obviously there are more event platforms out there. I plan to continue my search for the holy grail virtual event software and will keep you all thoroughly informed. Don’t let this post discourage you, my long and lengthy review actually has a lot of positive feedback and ideas.
Once this coronavirus mess is over I think the events we used to know will go away, and be replaced with something much different. Our lives have transformed and we’re living a new normal. We conduct business largely online, and we will learn to like it. So buckle up folks, order some dorky-ass blue light filtering glasses and get ready for the future.