Update: Easy YouTube Live Webinar Setup

This weekend’s update to RSVPMaker includes an easier method for setting up a sales or educational webinar, or an online video interview show, using YouTube Live, Google’s free internet broadcast service. I’m planning my next RSVPMaker webinar for January 10 at 1 pm EST.

You can now create a landing page for your event, plus sample confirmation, reminder, and follow up messages in one step, right from within the event editing screen. You can then further customize the reminder message (adding all the reasons why people should be sure to tune in) and the follow up message (at the same time you provide the link to the replay, you can promote a special offer for additional products or services).

If your webinar is intended as a way for you to build your email list, or generate sales leads, you can specify that people must register before viewing either the live event or the replay, and the landing page will enforce that requirement.

You begin by creating your YouTube Live event. Go to https://www.youtube.com/my_live_events or navigate to that page from the YouTube video manager.

Click New Live Event and fill out the form. It should look something like this:

If you want to require registration of viewers, you can set your YouTube Live event to “unlisted” so that it will not show up in the directory on youtube.com.

You will also create a corresponding RSVPMaker event for the same date and time. Because you may get attendees from other timezones, I recommend you tweak your RSVPMaker date/time display settings to specify that timezones should be displayed on your website.

Plug the url for your YouTube Live event into the blank corresponding field under the confirmation message blank and save the post as a draft or publish it. If you want registration for your event to be required, check that checkbox (this can be changed later).

YouTube Live field in the event editor.

RSVPMaker will create a landing page, as well as a confirmation message that includes the landing page url, a reminder scheduled to go out two hours before your event, and a follow up message scheduled to go out two hours after your event. To help you navigate between these pieces of related content, a message will appear at the top of the page whenever you are editing either the event post or the landing page.

Webinar related content

You can add or reschedule reminder and follow up messages from the RSVP Reminders screen.

The landing page will include the YouTube video feed, plus a live chat stream associated with the event.

YouTube Live webinar landing page.

Here is that same post seen in the editor, with the YouTube url included on a separate line (WordPress generates the video embed code automatically) and the [ylchatshortcode that pulls in the YouTube Live video chat stream. (If you don’t want to use YouTube’s chat, alternatives include enabling Facebook Comments on your site).

Landing page in the editor.

During the live program, you will want to monitor questions / comments from the chat as a way of interacting with the viewing audience. Assuming you stick with the YouTube Live chat, I suggest popping it out into a separate window, which you can do by clicking on the three dots at the right hand side of the chat box.

The presenter’s view of a YouTube Live session with the pop-up chat window displayed.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Creating a YouTube Live Event, with a Landing Page on Your WordPress Website

YouTube Live allows anyone to play TV talk show host or broadcast live marketing, tutorial, or entertainment content to the world. I use it to share information about RSVPMaker and related software and to conduct interview programs.

Using RSVPMaker and your WordPress-powered website, you can use YouTube Live as a free webinar platform, registering attendees and directing them to a landing page on your website. After the event, you can gain further mileage out of the event by making a replay available on that same page (YouTube will automatically archive your event for replay).

This tutorial follows the exact process I followed to schedule and begin promoting a December 7 webinar on RSVPMaker.

YouTube Live is the latest version of what used to be called Google Hangouts on Air, now divorced from the Google+ social network. That change made some of the older tutorial content I’d published obsolete, and this is an update.

Here is how you can create one of these events:

First, log into your Google account. Go to https://www.youtube.com/my_live_events or navigate to that page from the YouTube video manager.

Click New Live Event and fill out the form. It should look something like this:

YouTube Live settings for an event.
YouTube Live settings for an event.

You will also create a corresponding RSVPMaker event for the same date and time. Because you may get attendees from other timezones, I recommend you tweak your RSVPMaker date/time display settings to specify that timezones should be displayed on your website.

Creating the Landing Page

Even before you create the RSVPMaker event, you may want to create the landing page for your site, so the RSVP confirmation can include directions on how to tune in at showtime. Some marketers may prefer to use some specific landing page software, but for my purposes this is a regular WordPress page not included on any menu but not managed with any fancy security either. Rather than making it a top secret, I am encouraging people to register for the sake of getting a calendar invite, plus an email reminder on the day of the event.

Here is what the setup for my event landing page looks like in the WordPress editor:

Editing the landing page
Editing the landing page

I’m showing this in Text mode, so you can see the code, whereas the visual editor would include a representation of the YouTube player. For the player, I need only include a YouTube URL on a blank line, and WordPress handles the video player setup automatically.

Right below that, you will see an iframe code. That is what allows the YouTube comments feature associated with the video to be displayed on my website. Viewers could also interact with the YouTube Live broadcast on youtube.com, but all things being equal I would rather keep them on my own branded website.

Update: you can skim lightly over this next section for background and pick up where I explain the new shortcode for adding the comments field.

See the YouTube documentation for a complete explanation, but the short version is that I need to capture the ID for the video and plug it into this iframe format. Here is where you will find the ID, in either the long or short versions of a YouTube url:

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDHERE
  • https://youtu.be/IDHERE

The other piece of information I need is the domain (including www or other subdomain) where the landing page will be hosted. If my ID was IDHERE and my domain was demo.example.com, then the URL for my iframe would be:

https://www.youtube.com/live_chat?v=IDHERE&domain=demo.example.com

So my iframe is something like:

Here is what it looks like on the website before the show has begun. If you click Play on a YouTube Live video before showtime, what’s displayed is a countdown clock showing the time until the show is scheduled to begin.

YouTube Live video player and comments box.
YouTube Live video player and comments box.

Shortcode for YouTube Live Chat

A new shortcode, [ylchat] simplifies the process of adding the YouTube Live comment stream. The shortcode function extracts the video ID from the YouTube link included in the page, detects the server domain, and constructs the iframe for the chat window, according to Google’s specifications.

You can add attributes for width and height to override the default values (100% wide x 200 pixels tall). To make the comments box stop displaying after the end time for the webinar, use the attribute until, as in:
[ylchat until=”January 30, 2017 8 pm”]
or
[ylchat until=”2017-01-30 20:00:00″]

The issue is this particular chat stream is only active during the live event, and an error will be displayed in this spot if someone views the page after the event is over. When you set the until attribute, the shortcode function effectively deactivates itself after the time you specify is past.

Confirmation Message and Reminders

Now when you create your RSVPMaker event, you can incorporate a link to the landing page as part of the confirmation displayed on screen and sent to the attendee via email …

Confirmation Message: Live Video Chat: RSVPMaker for WordPress Demo/Q&A Wednesday December 7th 7:00 PM EST

Thank you for registering!

On December 7, 2016 at 7 pm EST, please tune in at
https://rsvpmaker.com/rsvpmaker-demoqa-december-2016/

You will be able to post questions during the event using your Google account, or you can tweet them to @davidfcarr before or during the event.

… as well as one or more reminders:

Set for 2 hours before the start of the event

Subject: REMINDER: Live Video Chat: RSVPMaker for WordPress Demo/Q&A Wednesday December 7th 7:00 PM EST

I hope you haven’t forgotten you signed up for my webinar tonight!

On December 7, 2016 at 7 pm EST, please tune in at
https://rsvpmaker.com/rsvpmaker-demoqa-december-2016/

You will be able to post questions during the event using your Google account, or you can tweet them to @davidfcarr before or during the event.

Conducting Your Event

At showtime, you will then launch your YouTube Live program from the Live Events page on youtube.com. You can invite in guests to join you in the live program and screenshare to demo software or show slides. It’s a good idea to get everything organized, including getting your guests signed in, at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the live program.

To make it easier to keep track of questions coming in on the YouTube comment feed, I recommend opening a popup window version of that feed, which you can do from either the public page for the event or the YouTube Live “video control room.”

Displaying the YouTube chat in a popup window.
Displaying the YouTube chat in a popup window.

When you start the live broadcast you can then switch to that chat window periodically to check for questions coming in.

A YouTube Live session with the pop-up chat window displayed.
A YouTube Live session with the pop-up chat window displayed.

For more about how to conduct a YouTube Live session, see the official help documents.

I still like Pat Flynn’s How to Run a Q&A Session Using Google Hangouts on Air as an explanation of how and why to run one of these programs, although some of the content is dated because it refers to the old Google+ incarnation of this service.

I also recommend you get familiar with using the YouTube video editor to trim away extraneous content. For example, I often broadcast a “we will get started in just a few minutes” greeting before the program actually starts, but I don’t want that to be something people see when they watch the replay. See Adding, Then Editing Out, a Hangouts on Air Pre-Show Greeting.

The separation from Google+ is mostly positive, BTW, since trying to convince people to get an account on that service in order to participate was a losing proposition. However, it meant some features went away such as the Q&A app that was linked to Google+. I found the popup chat window worked just as well for my purposes. I’ve also experimented with embedding the YouTube Live player on a page with Facebook comments enabled, where I thought my audience was more Facebook friendly.

If you come up with other approaches, please share your ideas.

Updated Guidance for Using YouTube Live vs. Google Hangouts with RSVPMaker for WordPress

You may have already heard the news: Google is killing off Hangouts on Air in September. A few months ago, I made a big deal out of announcing support for Hangouts on Air in RSVPMaker and using it for my own live events. That work wasn’t actually wasted, and “killing” in that headline is a little misleading, but the instructions I shared for setting up these events will be obsolete soon when the Google+ version of Hangouts on Air goes away on September 12.

Google’s new answer for basically the same thing is YouTube Live, which you can set up to work almost exactly the same as a G+ Hangout. In fact, the YouTube creator UI still makes some references to Quick setup (using Google Hangouts on Air) as a label for the technology, but YouTube Live is now the favored branding.

youtube-event-setup

The biggest difference from my point of view is that the Hangouts Q&A tool is going away. That was one of the features closely tied to a Google+ identity. In most respects, this change is a positive because there’s no longer a need to explain to people why they need to get a Google+ account just to post a question in your webinar. However, the question is what to use instead. Google’s announcement said something about using a Q&A tool in Google Slides.

What I’ve decided to do instead for a webinar I’m planning for the WordPress for Toastmasters project is use the Facebook comments system as an easy way for anyone with a Facebook account to post questions. After creating my YouTube Live event, I plugged the YouTube url into a blog post. In the RSVPMaker confirmation message I send to people who RSVP, I include the link to that blog post with some explanation of how the event will work. I also set up a reminder message with the same information to go out a couple of hours before the start of the event. Here is what that looks like:

Confirmation Message: Marketing Your Toastmasters Club and Organizing Meetings with WordPress for Toastmasters Wednesday August 31st 7:00 PM EDT

This event will be conducted using YouTube Live, Google’s free video broadcast service. You will find the YouTube video feed embedded in this blog post:

http://wp4toastmasters.com/2016/08/23/august-31-webinar-on-wordpress-for-toastmasters/

You can post questions in the comments section of that blog post before, during, or after the event, and I will try to answer them “on air.” If you would like to be invited into the on air event, contact me with an explanation of what you could contribute to the discussion.

You can also view this event on YouTube and it will be archived for replay:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bqnly_IrH4o

Just remember that if you want to ask questions, please post them via the blog.

I followed the WPBeginner tutorial on adding Facebook Comments to the WordPress for Toastmasters website. Previously, I was using Disqus on that site (as I do on RSVPMaker) but engagement has been so low I thought it was time to turn that off and try something new anyway.

I will report back here with more prescriptive instructions once I’ve seen how this works.