Webcast vs Webinar. Which should you use, when and why?

Webcast vs webinar. Which should you pick? 


They seem so similar… and they are in execution as a host.


But they are actually very different. And you should use them in different ways and be sure to use the right one in your marketing efforts.


This article will tell you what they are when you should use them and how they differ.


Let’s dive right in.


What is a webcast


Webcasts are a web-based broadcast or a “broadcast on the internet”. Much like a TED talk or keynote speech, a webcast is a one-way communication where the host presents to the audience without any interaction. 


They’re less intimate, as the goal is to share a message to a large and broad audience. This does have the advantage that your event can be seen by tens of thousands of people. They’re more like watching tv than attending a meeting. The trade-off is that the experience of the user is less personal.


Features of a webcast

  • Normally streamed via an open public tool such as on Youtube or Facebook like
  • A one to many approach designed for conferencing with larger groups of thousands
  • Limited or no interaction between the speaker and the participants 
  • Can be used to extend the reach of a live event such as a TED talk by uploading the video online after it has finished
  • Often used in large organizations to share internal business announcements


When to use a webcast

Webcasting works great when you want to hold an event with a large audience who cannot all attend in one central location. This can include company announcements, conferencing or panel events. But webcasts can also include broadcasting events where the location cannot accommodate such a large audience. As well as if the event would be too expensive to attend in person.


Webcasting is also a great marketing method to drive brand awareness and organic traffic. You don’t necessarily need any expensive software to webcast. You can stream the event live on Youtube or upload the video afterward and reach a large audience that drives awareness. 


What is a webinar

The word webinar comes from an “online seminar” or “web-based seminar’. Normally a live webinar involves a host (and sometimes a co-host) having a presentation to a virtual room of people who access the webinar from across the world. 


By their nature, they’re educational or instructional and provide actionable advice. This means they tend to involve interaction between presenters and attendees and webinar software has features to enable this including polls, Q&A, a chatbox and whiteboarding. Traditionally they are live events, but with advances in webinar software services, they can now be automated.


Features of a webinar

  • Webinars are normally highly actionable and used for educational content
  • They’re interactive – attendees can ask questions, engage with each other and the host through chat as well as answer polls 
  • Have a smaller target audience but are more catered to delivering value to the webinar attendees
  • Can be recorded and used to create automated webinars and are a fantastic lead caption tactic


When to use a webinar

Webinars are a fantastic way to share your expertise on a specific topic. They should be laser focussed and dig deep into the subject matter. You should use them when presenting to a small target audience. Because you’ll be speaking to a smaller audience, you can interact with them and give personalized answers. 


Webinars are a great marketing tactic to use in your marketing funnel if you’re trying to capture or nurture your email list into clients. You should almost always ask for contact details in exchange for attending your webinar. This lets you follow up with them later. 


They normally work best when your audience knows who you are and the value you offer, for example, they read your blog. But be sure to pick the right time for your webinar!


You can also run paid webinars if you’re sharing expertise that people would normally pay for. 


Webcast vs Webinar what’s the difference


If you’re looking to broadcast a message to large audiences webcasts are your bet. Webcasting shouldn’t require any special technology services. You should be able to stream your event live on Youtube, Facebook live or Twitch for maximum reach. Like Ted talks, you can upload the video of the conference or event to the internet to extend the reach online. This is great to build awareness and share a message. 


If you want to hold an interactive workshop that educates your audience on a global scale, then webinars are perfect for you. To look professional you’ll need webinar software. This technology manages everything from the registration page,  the webinar video and all the interactive features.


Webinars are perfect if you’re trying to show your expertise and upsell a product. Especially if you create on-demand webinars.


Ultimately if you’re going to do any video conferencing, both webcasts and webinars are viable options. But you need to pick the right channel for your usecase.