On Thursday, August 18, the American Booksellers Association presented a Technology Meetup that looked at the live event streaming service Crowdcast. Steve Fisher, Crowdcast specialist and a general fan of indie bookstores, provided a brief demonstration on how to create an event through Crowdcast.
Booksellers can view a recording of the session on the Education Resources page on BookWeb.org.
Here are some of the key points from the session:
- Fisher said that the essential difference between Crowdcast and a service like Zoom is the presentation; Zoom is a space for meetings, while Crowdcast is more of an events space.
- Crowdcast has a virtual stage as well as a green room for presenters to get ready, and audience members can be brought to the stage to ask questions. Like Zoom, it also has a chat function.
- Crowdcast offers ticketing and coupon options for events. Crowdcast can also be integrated with EventBrite through Zapier. For payment through Crowdcast, event hosts must have a Stripe account.
- Zoom can be broadcast through Crowdcast. Event hosts can also stream the event to Facebook and/or YouTube.
- All sessions are automatically recorded in Crowdcast.
- While Crowdcast attendees can see an event in any internet browser, administrators and presenters must be using Google Chrome or Firefox.
- To improve video speed and quality, both event hosts and attendees should consider using an ethernet cable instead of a WiFi connection.
- Attendees can search for bookstore events on the front page of Crowdcast.
Event hosts can sign up for a free trial to test the service. Once an account has been created, hosts will find an option that reads “Do a Test.” That function will create an unlisted event that hosts can experiment within. From there, hosts can go live. Hosts can also use the free trial to run an event.
- Once the free trial has expired, hosts must pay for the service. Pricing is based on the number of live event attendees, as well as hours streamed per month.
- Event hosts can host up to six speakers onstage at once. All attendees use the same URL to access the event.
- Crowdcast has a Q&A function with a voting mechanism for attendees to use. Answered questions receive a timestamp, and viewers can go right to that question in a recording if they’d like to. There is also a poll function.
- Event hosts can use the “Call to Action” button as a buy button, which can link attendees back to a bookstore’s website.
- Administrators can use the CSV import function to allow presenters to bypass registration/the paygate and enter the event. Administrators can also use the coupon function or sliding scale option to do this.
- Administrators can easily ban attendees from events if they are posting offensive content.
- While Crowdcast did have instability issues due to increased growth, the service explained what happened in this blog post and has been able to tend to those problems.
- Booksellers can watch a presentation about how to bring events online using Crowdcast here. Informational events on how to use Crowdcast are hosted five days a week.