3 Webinar Marketing Lessons from SNL at Home


As a result of the pandemic, we are all learning a ton about using webinars for marketing. And after watching the last episode of SNL at Home, I’m convinced there's a lot we can learn from them too.

Social media chatter about SNL at Home spiked significantly, first when the episode was announced, again on the day of the show and then even bigger the day after that. And I’ll tell you why in a sec.

News and social chatter about SNL at Home on the Net

I'm more interested in exploring the use of webinars for marketing, instead of marketing webinars to get audiences. Obviously, building an audience for a webinar is no less important, but it’s a subject for another post.

As a result of stay-at-home orders, social distancing, trade show and conference cancellations, all business is now virtual business.  So while the use of webinars for marketing is nothing new for SaaS marketers, there are more companies trying to use webinars to generate demand than ever before. COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation.

But that also means that it's tougher to get people to register and show up for webinars than ever before too. It's a much, more competitive environment. We’re all trying to get better at producing webinars that generate qualified leads.

You’re probably receiving all sorts of email pitches about how to produce a great Zoom meeting and invitations to more and more webinars as everyone comes up to speed on the only way we have right now to get people together right now.  

Watching this weekend's episode of SNL at Home, I picked up these 3 tips to apply to your webinar marketing strategy. 

Relax. It’s Just a Webinar. 

My favorite #SNLatHome sketch was the Big Papi Cooking Show where David “Big Papi” Ortiz (Kenan Thompson) makes a big Dominican lunch in quarantine with the help of Big Bunny (Bad Bunny).

The sketch was shot in Keenan's kitchen and was just as funny, if not more funny then when he does this sketch in the studio. And it just goes to show you, you don't necessarily need the support of a production crew to produce entertaining content.

What's more important are the ideas and the concept. If the story holds together, you don't need makeup, wardrobe and a Steadicam.

Audience Engagement Improves the Live Experience

Weekend Update with Colin Jost and Michael Che, on the other hand, suffered from the loss of a live audience. They were actually pretty funny, but the dead quiet after their jokes was deafening, and a laugh track would have been surreal. 

According to sentiment analysis I ran on Talkwalker, references to Colin Jost were negative, while Brad Pitt, Pete Davidson and Adam Sandler scored positively.

SNL at Home Sentiment Analysis

Stand-up comedians always say it's impossible to do stand-up without a live audience. But just as speaker view in Zoom lets you see the thumbnails of the other attendees, perhaps SNL at Home should consider bringing in a live audience virtually. “What's Up with That,” the game show sketch also suffered from the loss of live audience feedback.

The lesson here for webinar marketers is bring people on screen to ask questions and keep the chat open. Let your attendees interact amongst themselves during the event. 

When Ted conferences was considering sharing their speeches on YouTube, some said it would cannibalize conference attendee sales. But in fact, the interaction between guests is what keeps people coming back to Ted. It's not just about watching the speakers. And the same is true in webinars.  Don't worry about controlling the conversation in the chat window. Keep it open and let people interact.

Extend the Reach Via Social

On Sunday, Miley Cyrus shared her musical performance on her Facebook page which is what drove the second wave of discussions on the social web. So after your marketing webinar is over, archive the video of the event on social media, share it and generate additional engagement.

Miley's performance around a fire pit was almost more engaging than a polished stage performance because it felt much more intimate. The rise in conversation may have been propelled further by the sense of vulnerability and sameness between the performers and the audience, who were no longer separated by the proscenium arch.

In episode 300 of Online Marketing Made Easy podcast, Amy Portfield recommends sharing your gritty stories as a way of humanizing yourself and connecting with your audience. 

In the opening credits where they feature cameos of all the regulars, SNL at Home took Amy’s advice to another level. We see Kate McKinnon eating toast and Kenan Thompson taking out the garbage. It makes them even more lovable than they already are.

In a previous post, I wrote about how the pandemic could be the end of the office as we know it. 

But now, after watching SNL at Home, I wonder if it also might be the end of television as we know it too. 

I can tell you this, if it were up to my son, it would definitely be the end of school as we know it.

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