If your association is in the learning business, virtual conferences are a must. In the coming year, virtual conferences will be the most effective and safe way to provide the education and networking your members and market seek.
Virtual conferences provide opportunities for member and customer engagement, non-dues revenue, and brand awareness. They attract more attendees than in-person events because they’re more accessible and affordable for a larger share of your membership and market.
Associations are benefiting from another virtual conference asset: session recordings. After the event, virtual conference session recordings take on a new life by serving as a launchpad for online learning programs.
What you can do with virtual conference session recordings
Your association can repurpose session recordings in a number of ways to help attendees retain and extend their learning beyond the conference dates. Recordings can become revenue-generating products themselves or essential elements in other revenue- or engagement-generating products and services.
On-demand session recordings. Many associations provide limited access (30, 60, or 90 days) to session recordings for virtual conference attendees. You can also sell these recordings individually or as part of a package of recordings focused on a specific topic or career stage.
Session recordings become more valuable when learners can earn CE credits by watching them. However, you will most likely need proof of the learner’s mastery of the recording content, for example, interactive exercises or quizzes during the recording and an assessment at the end.
Rebroadcasts. Replay session recordings as live events. In speaker contracts, require their participation during the rebroadcast. Ask speakers to get involved in the rebroadcast chat and take live questions after the recording ends.
Podcasts, webinars, or mini-courses. The rebroadcast approach can also be applied to podcasts and webinars. Play brief segments of the session followed by commentary and discussion by the speaker and/or other guests.
You can also supplement the original recording with deeper-dive webinars or videos. Create a webinar series or mini-course with different speakers. Include sponsored videos that supplement content, for example, relevant case studies.
Discussion groups. Members and customers can watch a selection of recorded session segments on their own time and then meet with the session speaker and fellow learners to discuss what they’ve learned. You can enhance these discussions with supplemental materials.
Self-paced online courses. Course modules can include chunks of session recordings and other repurposed content—podcast episodes, webinars, interviews, panels, paper, ebook, articles, etc.—as well as speaker handouts.
Plan the conference agenda with your online learning portfolio in mind
Ideally, your association’s educational strategy applies to virtual (and in-person) conferences too. In the call for session proposals, ask for content that fills in the gaps of your online curriculum and learning pathways. If you’ve mapped out the professional competencies required by your target audiences, you’ll know where your online learning portfolio falls short.
By planning ahead, once the conference is over—or even before then—you can get the session recordings segmented, packaged, and repurposed more quickly. Marketing campaigns for these recordings, learning pathways, and online learning programs can take advantage of your market’s captured attention during the conference.
Some session proposals won’t make the cut for your conference, but if you believe they have value for your market and can help fill the gaps in your curriculum, record them for later use in your online learning programs. They can be part of an on-demand package for conference attendees, thereby extending the life of the conference.
One thing to keep in mind: your speaker contracts must grant you permission to reuse and repurpose session recordings. Make sure you either own the copyright or are licensed to reuse the content.
Before the conference or pre-recording the sessions, help speakers design sessions that can be broken up into repurposable chunks later. Viewers prefer to digest content in 12- to 15-minute chunks, not 50-minute sessions.
Work with speakers on supplemental content, for example, reading material, videos, and interviews. This additional requirement could be challenging for associations that don’t pay speakers. Consider compensating them for their time or trading time for credit they can apply toward dues, marketing, registrations, products, or services.
How to repurpose session recordings if you didn’t plan ahead
If you didn’t choose session proposals based on post-conference content needs, you’ll have to take time to review session recordings after the conference to decide which ones can be repurposed.
One of the easiest ways to repurpose recordings is by putting together a “greatest hits” package. Which sessions received the highest ratings or the most buzz? Even better, package recordings together by target audience (career stage, position, or specialty), conference track, or topic.
You can also fit session or session segment recordings into learning paths. First, you need to define competencies and then create learning paths that will help people develop those competencies. Supplement the session recordings with other content. Award digital badges to those who successfully complete the pathway and prove their mastery of the competencies.
Marketing your new online learning programs
Understand your different target audiences and their educational needs. Then, organize your online learning content by competencies, career stage, and other searchable tags. Make it easy to search for session recordings, online courses, and other educational content.
Display visuals or maps of each learning path on your website so people can see which competencies they need to develop and which courses to take to achieve professional goals. Explain how to earn the digital badges attached to each of the learning paths.
During your conferences, show attendees where to find related content and programs on your LMS—a task that will be much easier if your LMS is hosting the virtual conference. Offer attendees a discount on an online learning subscription or pass that provides unlimited access for a year.
Create marketing plans for both individuals and employers. Talk with large employers about licensing your courses for their corporate training programs.
Launching an online learning program, especially one that takes advantage of repurposed content, requires collaboration because the content is sourced throughout the organization. This integrated learning strategy must involve the teams who plan conference, webinar, podcast, editorial, and online learning content.
Virtual conference session recordings offer evergreen value to your association. As long as their content remains timely and relevant, you can plug them into online courses and use them in other ways to promote conversation and learning in your professional community.