Webinars are a great way to engage and educate your audience and, done properly, they can have a reach that extends way beyond your existing customer base. By getting the basics right and adding some simple extras you can turn your webinar into a content marketing sensation. Read on to find out how.

1. Make sure things work the first time

We’ve all been involved in video conferencing disasters – faulty microphones or dodgy connections have left us unable to speak to our audiences. During a small internal meeting, that’s an inconvenience, but if you’re supposed to be addressing a significant number of peers, customers or prospective clients, it has a bigger impact.

Familiarize yourself with the platform in advance. Have a dry run so you can experiment with the features and get the most from them before you do the real thing. Your webinar will be more likely to spread across the Internet if you are confident with the platform.

2. Do the social media groundwork

Create a Twitter hashtag for your webinar and encourage people to use it whenever they talk about the event. This will help build awareness of your webinar and you can use a tool like Storify to curate the most insightful tweets and produce an extra resource built by people who attended the event. Inspire those whose tweets are included to share the content, thus increasing its reach.

Be sure to promote the webinar and associated content via email and on your social media platforms. Think of ways to expand the discussion. You might use Facebook and Google+ to poll the audience on topics they are interested in before the event and compare this data to information gathered with polls during the live event. Afterward you can use the same platforms to invite your audience to comment on the results and keep the conversation going.

3. Let people who can’t attend live, attend at their convenience

Although webinars remove geographic barriers, they can’t remove the problem of conflicting time zones and prior commitments. Not everyone who wants to participate in your event will be able to do so live. In fact, 39% of BrightTALK audiences in 2012 preferred to watch webinars and videos on demand.

Offer your webinars on-demand immediately following the live event in order to increase your reach and enable more viewers to watch at their convenience. Moreover, those who enjoyed the webinar live can access it to review key points and share with others who might find it useful. As with any piece of good content, you can repurpose recorded webinars in blog posts and series of webinars. You can also let them pick up more viewers over time by embedding them on your website.

4. Answer questions

Questions are a great way to engage a live audience. Invite questions at the start of your presentation and host a Q&A session at the end of your webinar. Monitor the questions throughout the webinar – this is easier with a moderator – to answer relevant questions during the presentation. Unfortunately, time constraints often mean not all questions can be addressed and this is where the Internet comes into play.

Encourage people to ask more questions than you could possibly answer in the time allotted. Encourage them tweet at you live or email you with additional questions after the event has finished. Then follow up personally and even write a blog post or a series of posts tackling the most popular issues, thus creating more relevant content to complement your webinar.

Not only will this create shareable content that directly answers your audience’s needs, it will also help draw attention to the webinar itself.

5. Share everything you can

Good content is the backbone of a strong presentation and strong presentations make for great webinars. As we’ve already shown, creating extra resources to support your event and sharing the webinar itself will help you extend your content’s reach. Optimize your sharing even further to include the individual elements of your event.

Pick out all the useful content from your webinar and share it through the appropriate channels. If you mention useful resources in your webinar, make sure to attach any relevant case studies, white papers and links to your webinar so your audience can access them easily. These individual items will have value on their own, and they’ll also draw people back to the original webinar.

Ensuring your webinar has a long post-event life should be an integral part of your event strategy. Follow these five points to ensure you are moving in the right direction.