With stay-at-home and social distancing orders still in place, now’s the best time to host a virtual event. While that might sound as simple as setting up a Zoom link, let’s get real.
Aren’t you all Zoom-ed out? How many people really pay attention to virtual events like these, anyway? If you want to do virtual event planning that actually gives value, you need to put in the work.
We tapped a few experts in the field of virtual event planning to give you a little inspo. Learn what makes virtual events successful and get a few virtual event planning success tips, too.
Why You Should Host a Virtual Event
So, why do we care about virtual events, anyway? Can’t we just wait for everything to blow over and host in-person events later?
The thing is, virtual events should be part of your marketing mix all the time, not just during a global crisis. Our experts love them for 3 big reasons.
- Stay connected: “The biggest value events bring is connection, and you can still make this happen virtually. Focus on creating memorable experiences through thoughtful and relevant content and opportunities for attendees to engage with speakers and other attendees.” — Taylor, cred
- Provide thought leadership: A virtual event allows you to demonstrate thought leadership. You can do this by spotlighting someone in your organization, bringing together like-minded leaders, or inviting an external expert to present.
- Stay relevant: You can use virtual events as a forum to present your latest advancements and meaningfully talk about trending information. “In the current climate, your audience may be looking for helpful resources, and you can provide that in an educational format that also allows for a sense of community and shared experience.” — Gina, The Craftsman Agency
What makes a virtual event stand out?
We care a lot about attendees having a good time, but you need to attract them to your virtual event first. Everybody and their mom is doing virtual events right now, so you’ve got to convince people your event is worth their time.
Follow these 5 virtual event planning success tips to host a truly unique, interesting experience:
- Bring on a celebrity speaker. As long as they’re relevant to your industry and topic, celebrity speakers are a great way to draw people to your even.
- Market your event. “Don’t cut marketing efforts. Make a list of the marketing deliverables you would typically create for a live event and brainstorm how to make those relevant to virtual, whether it’s stage backdrops, sponsor signage, break slides, etc.” — Taylor, cred
- Add a physical component. “Send care packages—snacks or other thoughtful little items—for your attendees to enjoy. As things open up and teams are in one place, you can even send things like pizza to a group.” — Gina, The Craftsman Agency
- Increase accessibility. “Make your event accessible to all by incorporating elements such as captions, live ASL interpreters, and dial-in options.” — Taylor, cred
- Plan for the future. “Focus on immersive storytelling, which can bring the event to life in a more engaging way. If you do it right, you have a digital experience that extends beyond the event itself. You also want to think about more than just one single event. Taking a campaign approach is more effective for your investment and your audience.” — Gina, The Craftsman Agency
How to increase engagement at virtual events
Well, this is the million-dollar question.
While creating content for your next virtual event might feel straightforward, it’s … not. Right now, people are dealing with different stressors as they work remotely at home. Maybe they don’t feel like an old-fashioned webinar is a good use of their time?
According to the pros, you can boost engagement by:
- Runing promotions or giving away swag. Everybody loves free stuff!
- “Adding a gamification program to digital experiences, rewarding attendees for behaviors such as attending a breakout session, or asking speakers a question” — Gina, The Craftsman Agency
- Utilizing polls, Q&A, and discussion via chat and video
- Encouraging social media engagement with hashtags
- Hosting your event at a convenient time (nobody wants to spent their lunch hour at your event—sorry)
- Runing a contest or sweepstake for attendees who stay for at least half of the event
- Making sure your presentations are concise and visually appealing
The bottom line
As you can see, there are lots of creative ways to differentiate your virtual event. Whatever you do, ditch the old Zoom presentations and spice things up. We’re all selling ourselves remotely for the foreseeable future, so invest in engaging virtual events people actually want to attend—we promise it’s worth it.