Digital events are events that take place within a digital space. This could be a talk or seminar online or on a conference call platform like Zoom or digital content you have placed behind a paywall. It is digital content accessed at a specific time and usually ticketed in some way.
Livestreaming is a form of digital event but it is also a way to talk directly to an audience through existing platforms. There are numerous platforms with a live feature that are covered within this guide.
If you are approaching either of these for the first time then reading the following guides for beginners will be useful:
Heritage Open Days – Developing Digital Events: A beginner’s guide
Digital Culture Network – Getting Started with Livestreaming
The following guide will be useful for those who are trying to get into livestreaming on a budget:
If you’re looking for a more advanced livestreaming setup then take a look at this video:
Museum Development YouTube channel – Advanced Live Streaming at the Museum of London (case study)
Across the Digital Engagement Toolkit, we are looking at who engages with a particular platform by generation. You will find more detail on this within the platform finder. When looking at audience engagement by generation it is important to keep in mind it is not definitive of everyone’s behaviour. However, understanding the broad trend of a generation’s approach to a platform is useful to understand the audiences you are most likely to find there. For the purposes of this toolkit, we are using terminology that defines audiences with the following demographic terminology: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z.
Digital events audiences will vary by platform and by the type of event you are hosting. Digital natives such as Gen Z and Gen Y are likely to be the most familiar and comfortable with the idea of attending digital events. However, Gen X will also be very familiar with conference call platforms such as Zoom, attending conferences and events digitally through work.
Since March 2020, a large majority of the population have become more familiar with attending events online or meeting and socialising within digital spaces. This means that more audiences are familiar with these behaviours and may be more likely to attend digital events in future. You can build an audience around a regular event or try to capture a specific audience with a one-off event. Either way, you should consider the audience you want to reach when planning the marketing around your event.
Livestreaming has a varied and diverse audience that crosses different demographics and each platform that offers livestreaming will have an audience searching for different content types. Gen Y and Gen Z will be the most familiar with livestreaming as well as gamers and fans of e-sports. However, as livestreaming and going live has become more a part of social media communication more and more people are becoming familiar with the concept.
The online digital space provides archives with new ways to think about how to host people and include them in what they do. In this guide, you will find information on digital events in the broadest sense and examine what they offer over other types of digital engagement. You will also find details on commonly used ticketing platforms within the ‘Helpful Stuff’ section in this guide.
There are many benefits to offering free events and they can be organised for low cost or where the only cost is time. Holding a digital space is a way to connect to your audiences whether this is a space that is open to dialogue and questions or more of a traditional talk or presentation.
Consider the digital platforms your archive uses that has an existing audience. Examine what tools the platform has to hold space; from a Twitter hashtag Q&A to Facebook Live, hosting a conference on Zoom to going live on TikTok. You can create structured and unstructured events that enable audiences to connect with you directly.
- Audiences feel part of a community
- Opportunities for direct and conversational engagement
- Develops relationship with your audience
- Opportunities to grow your audience
- Reach a non-local audience
Even if your event is free there are many benefits to ticketing your event. This may not be suitable for every live event or platform but where you are creating a structured space or expecting a larger attendance it will be useful to ticket and consider the promotion around the event. Ticketing events will allow you to know how many people may attend as well as capturing audience data and giving your audience the option to opt into hearing more from your organisation.
If you feel you have a unique event, talk or conference idea then you could consider creating a paid event or opening up the option to your audience to pay what they can.
It is important to consider what your offer is to your audience and what they get in return for their ticket price. Are you teaching specific skills, educating on a topic or bringing people together with a unique offer?
You will also want to build a strategy around how you will reach those who may want to pay for the event you are offering. Think about direct ways you can reach people via your networks and indirectly through your social media.
More information on building a marketing strategy can be found on this blog:
Spot Me – Virtual Event Marketing Ideas: 6 Strategies to Succeed in 2021
Livestreaming and Going Live
Livestreaming and Going Live are a way to start recording and broadcasting a video simultaneously. It is essentially a user created live tv feed. To livestream, all you need is an internet-enabled device, such as a smartphone or tablet, and a platform to livestream from such as a website or app.
Facebook Live, Instagram Live stories, Twitch (frequently used by the gaming community), and TikTok are some of the most popular livestreaming apps currently available. Livestreaming, unlike pre-recorded videos, cannot be trimmed and altered.
When approaching livestreaming there are essentially two forms: the act of ‘going live’ on social media and a dedicated ‘livestream’. These two forms are interconnected and overlap but they have a slightly different approach and tone that is examined below.
Going Live: This is a more recent idea since social media platforms began to embed livestreaming within their platforms. Popular creators and individuals will decide to “go live” and it is their active and online followers who will find this content. The act of going live is to be informal and unstructured. Creators use this to make announcements, have informal Q&A’s and to just connect with their audience without a structured reason. Individuals might use it to show and share something funny or interesting that is happening at that moment.
You will also find on platforms such as TikTok, dedicated content formed around going live. Makers and creators often go live whilst doing an activity or they may go live to share their thoughts on a topic or theme whilst speaking directly to their audience. This might be a carpenter or painter working on their most recent project; they will go live and allow followers to watch their process. You might also find farmers going live and inviting people to see inside the working day on a farm. You will also find many students going live with captions or signs that say ‘study with me’, creating a space with a purpose and offering people opportunities to not have to work or study in isolation.
Audiences are becoming more and more used to the idea of going live and it is becoming a more ingrained part of social media activity and language.
What might an archive going live look like? What could you give an insight into that most people will never have seen before?
Livestreaming: These are dedicated digital events and people will use platforms like Twitch, YouTube Live and others to create content for their audience. Elements of these streams will remain unpredictable but the overall livestream will have a dedicated theme and structure to the content. Livestreaming grew out of the games community and e-sports with gamers watching professional players playing video games and commenting on live events. In recent years this has grown even further and you will now find all sorts of creators livestreaming their content.
What people enjoy about it is its direct connection to an audience; unedited and unpredictable. From stand-up gigs to Fortnite games there is a range of different livestreamed content, including excellent examples from the heritage sector to reach audiences in new and exciting ways:
There will certainly be an audience for livestreamed archives and whether you explore this in a structured or unstructured way will depend on the platform you use and the type of activity that you livestream.
There are many platforms to choose from and the one which is right for you will be dependent on what platforms your existing audience use and those you are most familiar with.
Twitch’s users are in the majority gamers but the platform has an extensive and diverse audience and a range of different types of livestreams.
YouTube Live is the live part of YouTube and like YouTube itself you will find a wide range of creators on the platform. Your livestream can also be added to your YouTube channel after broadcast.
Facebook, Instagram and TikTok have a way to ‘go live’ and reach your audience in direct and informal ways. The links below will take you to sites that provide more information about how to utilise this feature of social media.
Nature Live is a series of live streamed events from the Natural History Museum. It takes place regularly every Tuesday and describes what it does as a chance to hang out with nature and the Nature Live team.
It’s important to remember that Nature Live has a whole professional team behind it. Nevertheless, you can use the live function on social media to create a simple digital space to welcome audiences into your archive. What regular themed live events could your archive hold that would enable audiences to hang out with archives?
Creative thinking and exercises
Regular digital events or live streams are a great way to grow a consistently engaged audience. However, finding the time to manage and create this amount of content can be difficult. To help with this, think about any parts of your job or anyone else’s that could become part of a live stream.
- Could you talk about how an archive is organised?
- Could you show people how a collection is repackaged to ensure long term preservation of fragile items?
- Unboxing videos are hugely popular and it might be interesting to explore developing an unboxing video for archives where you can not only show the item or collection to an audience but also talk about the provenance and history of the collection.
- If your archive has a conservation department, you could consider livestreaming parts of the conservation process.
There are many livestreaming platforms to choose from and there are easy ways to go live across all of them. However, consider where you would find the audience you want to reach and learn as you go. If for example, you discover Facebook Live doesn’t gain you an audience, it may be that your audience on Facebook isn’t looking for live content. Consider trialling live content on new platforms like TikTok and see if you grow a new audience more familiar with the idea of going live.
Eventbrite is an online events listing and ticketing software. If you are creating a free event then it is free to use but if you create a paid event then they will take a share of the ticket price.
Ticket Tailor is an independent alternative to Eventbrite and offers many of the same features with a variety of ways of scheduling regular and one-off events.
StreamYard has a range of features to help support and organise your livestreams and enable you to broadcast over a range of platforms at the same time. Broadcasting your video to Facebook, YouTube and Twitch all from one place.
OBS is an advanced software for streaming, enabling you to mix multiple livestreaming, video in video and cue sounds, images and pre-recorded video as part of your livestream. Advanced video and audio features to help make your livestreams dynamic and interesting. They have an extensive help guide available.
Streaming Software for Video Broadcasting
This blog looks at the 15 Best Live Streaming Software for Video Broadcasting:
Dacast – Comparison of the 15 Best Live Streaming Software: What You Need to Know [Updated for 2022]
How to measure impact
How you measure impact will depend on the platform you use for livestreaming and you should familiarise yourself with what each platform can offer you.
When setting up any ticketed event, make sure you are capturing the audience data you require. Don’t forget about GDPR and offer your audience a way to opt in to hearing from you again. Many ticketing platforms offer this as part of their service and Ticket Tailor have a useful webpage on GDPR compliant ticketing.
Once you have chosen your platform ensure that you take a look at their accessibility features. It will vary from platform to platform and you should see if auto-captioning is possible to enable live captioning of your live feed.
These guides have useful information on considering accessibility as part of your activity:
Audience Agency’s COVID-19 Cultural Participation Monitor Summary Report. This report contains more information on how the pandemic has changed our relationship with the digital world.
Crowdfunding is a way to generate income from your online content such as live streaming. We have a crowdfunding guide for archives if you are interested in learning more.
Digital Pathways – Resource portal. This portal has aggregated useful resources from different organisations on a multitude of digital topics. Guides relating to aspects of digital engagement are included.
If you have over 600 followers on Twitter you could look at their audio room feature, where selected Twitter users are able to speak whilst the rest join the room as audience. Museum Next have a useful guide on Twitter spaces and cultural organisations.