LAST January, I decided to organize a webinar from March 15 to 26 to tackle the use of social media and social networking for business. This is my 3rd workshop-based webinar series.

The first was last August to September 2009. It was a three-week sprint on e-commerce. The second was a six-session workshop on search engine optimization and link building last October 2009.

Click here for Election 2010 updates

What I learned from the experience was that first, people are willing to pay, especially if they find the topic relevant for them. The webinar is offered for free as part of the benefits of club membership. Additional sessions require payment, which is still lower compared with that charged for non-members.

Second, time constraint is inevitable and it will be tough to find a schedule that will be convenient to all. It is best to decide on who your target audience will be and focus on that. I remember organizing one- to two-hour webinars in the morning, afternoon, evening, and weekends just to find the right time slot for participants. For the latest one, I decided to focus on the morning audience and target entrepreneurs and office-based participants.

Third, use webinars as an incentive. When planning the webinar last January, I was thinking on how to maximize the activity without compromising the benefits I give to club members. So I decided to give free slots to those who attended our SoftDev Conference last February, winners of the Philippine Schools Cyberfair, and paid participants of the Social Networking Conference this April 22 and 23. Over the weekend, I also offered one complimentary slot to the members of my Yahoo Groups (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/digitalfilipino), appreciating their loyalty to the mailing list since it started in 1999. As a result, the webinar appeared as an incentive and those who got the free slot truly deserved it.

And to explore the idea further, if you are reading this newspaper column now, I can give you one complimentary session.

Just visit http://digitalfilipinoclub.blogspot.com, pick your desired topic, and contact me, quoting that you read about this one free webinar session after reading this Sun.Star Cebu column.

I’ve been writing this column since 2003 and I will be thrilled to meet loyal readers in a webinar setting.

With bandwidth access improving in our country, webinars are fast becoming popular tools to reach out and educate an audience. It can also serve as an interactive forum as presenter rights can be passed on from one person to another. Interaction among participants is also encouraged in the process.

There are so many free webinars online today and you can join from anywhere in the world. Just do a search over Google, Yahoo, and Bing; you’ll surely find a topic that will interest you.

(http://digitalfilipino.com)