The popularity of virtual events has been on the rise for the past few years with a major spike in recent months due to the vast majority of corporate events being forced online due to COVID-19.
Virtual events come with many pros including decreased costs for both the hosts and attendees and increased accessibility to a wider audience. While these are both very valuable — who doesn’t want to spend less money and reacher a wider audience — virtual events can be intimidating for someone who has never hosted one before.
To help you make the most of your upcoming virtual events, the Summa Media team is sharing our top 5 tips for hosting a successful virtual event with you today. Whether you have an impending event on the horizon or are just starting to think about planning one, this advice is for you!
Types of Virtual Events
Let’s start by discussing what exactly a virtual event is and the different types of virtual events that you might consider hosting.
First of all, a virtual event is any online event that uses a platform where hosts are able to interact with the audience. There are many different types of virtual events, but some of the more popular include:
Virtual conferences are interactive, virtual events that are conducted live and offer unique content for attendees. Like their in person counterparts, virtual conferences typically come with a fee. You can offer different tiers of attendance for different audiences.
- Trainings and Workshops
Trainings and workshops are typically paid as well, but unlike conferences they can be live or pre-recorded. While all virtual events will likely be educational and informative, trainings and workshops typically offer more hands on education and there is a degree of expectation that the audience will be doing work/homework.
Webinars can be free or paid, but more often than not are free educational tools for attendees that hopefully leave them wanting to know more. Webinars are more informal than conferences and trainings, but more formal than virtual meetups and Q+A sessions.
- Virtual Meetups
Virtual meetups are one of the more casual forms of virtual events. These are a great opportunity for industry networking, connecting with remote employees, and an overall free, laidback event.
- AMAs, Q+A sessions
AMAs and Q+A sessions are a fun, informal way for attendees to get to know you or another leader within your organization. Prior to the event you can crowdsource questions on your social media channels and give attendees a place to submit questions during the event. AMAs and Q+A sessions are typically free.
5 Tips for Hosting a Successful Virtually Event
1. Know the Goal of Your Virtual Event
What is the goal of your virtual event? Are you hoping to educate potential buyers? Are you hoping to build brand awareness? Are you hoping to boost team camaraderie while working remote?
The goal of your virtual event will influence many aspects of the event. The platform you use, the way you promote the event, and the members of your team that you need to be involved. Once you define your goal you can begin moving on to the next stage of planning.
2. Promote Your Virtual Events
Just like any in-person events, you will need to promote your virtual events. The type of event and the goal of the event will determine how you promote your event, but common promotional efforts will include:
- Social Media Campaigns
- Facebook and Instagram Ads
- Promotion on a Facebook and Instagram Lives
- LinkedIn Ads and Posts
- Blog Posts
- Email Campaigns
- Google Ads
3. Incentivize Your Attendees
Aside from providing value to your attendees why else should they attend your event? For free events there is no need to provide added incentives to attend, but for paid events you need to consider giving your attendees something extra.
For paid events you need to provide your attendees with both educational, informative incentives as well as swag and giveaways. Educational giveaways can include things like eBooks, whitepapers, and the chance to win private sessions or one-on-one coaching. Popular swag items vary industry to industry, but items such as t-shirts, hats, and stickers are always a hit.
4. Prepare for and Prevent Technical Difficulties
While in-person events are not without their own set of challenges, the chances of something failing technically are certainly heightened for virtual events. Consider all of the things that could go wrong during your event and create a back up plan.
Common challenges include:
- Internet or power outages
- Guest speakers with technical issues
- Computer failure
- Too many participants for the system
- Broken chat features
Think carefully about each of these scenarios and work with your team to devise an appropriate plan of action for each situation.
5. Request Feedback from All Attendees
Virtual events are a new experience for many of us and we can not expect everything to go seamlessly the first time. After your virtual event send a survey to your attendees. Ask them what they enjoyed, where they felt there was room for improvement, and what recommendations they have for next time. Review this information with your team and implement the feedback for your next event.
With the many pros of virtual events, the team at Summa Media believes they are here to stay. Starting a new venture can be scary, but if you are ready to dip your toes into the virtual event world our team is here to help. Contact us today to learn more!