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  /    /  Select the Right Digital Tools

Select the Right Digital Tools

There are myriad digital tools to help you host online meetings and conferences, tools that are evolving rapidly, continuously being developed and honed for an effective, dynamic digital experience. The trick is to match the content and activities on your agenda with the technology that will be most effective in helping achieve your goals.

First you must decide upon your platform. A complete online conference system (such as Socio or HeySummit) will provide ample functions and capabilities, but it will be more difficult to use for both the host and likely for the attendees. Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom (meeting or webinar), WebEx (online collaboration), Crowdcast (webinar), may be more familiar to users and event producers can create excellent experiences using these less complex applications. Ultimately, the stage you set for human-to-human interactions to take place will depend more upon your intention and imagination, than your chosen video conferencing.

To that end, a primary consideration in platform and software selection is accessibility, in a very broad sense, for both hosts and attendees. This entails looking at elements such as familiarity with software, ease of software download and installation, bandwidth requirements for video upload, and the ability for the platform to support true participation of attendees, taking into consideration language and other potential barriers.

The more detailed work of matching your activities with the right technology will comprise exploring available functions of the software, such as activity buttons (raising hand, applause, etc.), opportunities for chat, file and screen sharing, polls and quizzes, break-out rooms, recording options and integration of other applications.

In selecting your technology, keep in mind the needs of your participants, doing everything you can to create an environment that fosters human-to-human interaction. However, also give some thought to meeting the needs of other stakeholders, such as sponsors, funders, and your community at large.

A Comparison of Technology Options (September 2020)

 

Components ZOOM SOCIO Crowdcast Hey-Summit Hopin
OVERVIEW          
Platform Classification Webinar or Meeting eConference Webinar eConference eConference
Anticipated Pricing (1,000 seats) $1,860-4,520 Annual $3,500-6,500 $500 $2,000 UNCLEAR
Entry Pricing $20 / mo+ $3500+/event $62/mo+ $116/mo+ $1,500/event
Work Across Devices YES YES YES YES YES
Video Conferencing NATIVE VIA ZOOM NATIVE UNCLEAR NATIVE
PRE-EVENT          
Conference Website NO YES LIMITED YES YES
Built-In Registration LIMITED YES YES YES YES
Customized Registration LIMITED YES YES YES NO DATA
Event Management NO YES NO NO YES
Custom Branding NO YES NO NO YES
DURING EVENT          
Multi-Stage or Multi-Session NO YES YES YES YES
Waiting Room/ Green Room YES YES YES NO YES
Built In Schedule NO YES LIMITED 3RD PARTY UNCLEAR
On-Stage Speakers/Panelists 100 YES 6 UNCLEAR 6
INTERACTIVITY          
Chat YES in Meeting; Q & A in Webinar YES YES YES YES
Live Polling YES YES YES YES YES
File Sharing YES YES YES YES YES
Screen Sharing YES YES YES YES YES
Reception/Social Networking LIMITED YES NO NO YES
Advanced Networking LIMITED YES LIMITED NO YES
Breakout Rooms YES YES LIMITED YES YES
Whiteboard YES YES 3RD PARTY NO NO
Support for Meetings NO NO NO NO YES
Community Forum LIMITED YES NO YES YES
1 to 1 Video Networking NO NO NO NO YES
Gamification NO YES NO NO NO
BACKEND          
Installed or Cloud-Based CLOUD CLOUD CLOUD CLOUD CLOUD
Mobile APP YES YES YES YES YES
Digital Sponsorship Benefits NO YES NO YES YES
APIs / Integrations YES YES ZAPIER YES UNKNOWN
Email & Reminders YES YES YES YES YES
Recording Capability YES YES YES YES YES
Multistream YES YES YES NO NO
Post-Event Recordings YES YES YES YES YES
Analytics YES YES YES YES YES
Embeddable LIMITED NO YES NO NO
INITIAL ASSESSMENT Ratings (1 = poor to 5 = excellent)
Ease of Use: Producer 5 4 4 3 3
Ease of Use: Attendee 5 4 4 3 3
Platform Stability 5 5 3 4 4
Overall Accessibility 5 5 4 4 3
Mobile Accessibility 5 5 4 3 NO DATA
Overall User Interface 3 5 5 4 3
Human Resources 4 4 4 2 2
Participatory engagement 3 4 4 5 5
Customer Service 3 5 3 4 3
Total Score 38 41 35 32 26