Virtual events have rapidly filled the market gap for meetings, gatherings, and public events without disobeying the social distancing directive from the World Health Organization (WHO).
New technologies offer innovative ways for a large number of people to connect online. From Martin Garrix’s quarantine-inspired live online set to the “Womanhood Is Taxing” panel discussion by the Women’s Information Network, we’ve seen some great virtual events happen recently.
Moving events online can not only reduce hosting costs, it also helps businesses reach a wider audience, making attendance accessible to pretty much everyone in any corner of the world. From going live on Instagram to live streaming on Youtube, businesses and individuals alike are staging virtual events one way or another, even more so during the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a time when entertainment is almost entirely restricted to digital interactions, are your events ready to go online? What makes a virtual event a resounding success?
Go Live to engage global audiences in real-time
Moving events online can not only reduce hosting costs, but it also helps businesses reach a wider audience, making attendance accessible to pretty much everyone in any corner of the world. From going live on Instagram to live streaming on YouTube, businesses and individuals alike are staging virtual events one way or another, even more so during the Coronavirus pandemic.
With virtual events, you can easily promote your event by sharing its link on your website, and social profiles, pages, and people across the globe will tune in instantly.
Virtual events also open up doors for you to collect customer information online, which they may have been hesitant to give out any other way. This could be something as simple as an email address – so you can create follow up emails to nurture your leads and spawn future engagement.
Moreover, event hosts have greater flexibility in how they go about their broadcast. Whether it’s a business conference or a quirky panel discussion – you choose whom to invite, translation options for your target audiences, and how interactive you want your session to be.
Our recommendations: Platforms best-suited to your virtual event
Whether you want to host an uber-professional web conference or a casual webinar with fans, choose the right platform for your needs.
There are several options to choose from; some are user-friendly, others offer sophisticated features that cost a few hundred dollars.
Here are our top picks:
As the biggest social media platform, Facebook offersFacebook Live that lets you target a large portion of your target audience in one go.
- You can go live from your Facebook Page, group, or host a community event – your live videos will also appear in user’s News Feeds.
- Target a custom audience for your virtual event with Facebook ads – justcreate an attractive post with relevant info and let it do the job for you.
- You can schedule a live stream almost one week in advance with Live Producer so that your audience is aware of upcoming broadcasts.
- It enables hosts to moderate the discussion while also monitoring the live stream. The drop-down menu lets you manage comments through the following settings:
- Slow: Users can only comment once every ten seconds.
- Discussion: Your chat only shows comments of at least 100 characters.
- Follower: Only followers can comment.
- Restricted: Only accounts that are at least two weeks old can comment.
- Protected: Commenters must have followed you for a minimum of 15 minutes.
- Users should expect occasional glitches that can result in lagging, blurry videos and slow streaming for audience members.
- Users may not be able to find old posts, which is a considerable drawback as Facebook content won’t rank well on search engines. This means that after your live event is over, it detracts from SEO on Facebook rankings.
Zoom is perfect for when you, as the host, need to present content in enclosed environments to a pre-determined audience.
- It works excellent for office-wide meetings, webinars, or panel discussions with multiple speakers involved.
- Zoom enables easy recording, more specifically, Zoom’s cloud recording, allowing you to record your event to the cloud. This means the participants can access it even after the live session is over. Thus, it removes the necessity for long download and upload times and makes content readily accessible.
- Zoom’s Q&A features are the best of any webinar platform, which serves as a bonus feature for when you have multiple panelists. It allows you to pinpoint questions when you are answering them. Its private messaging feature will enable hosts to respond to personal queries without interrupting the experience of other participants.
- The platform is exceptionally user-friendly and is excellent for businesses still navigating their way around virtual events. Simply create your Zoom ID and disseminate it among the intended participants using an attractiveZoom invitation template. Email this visual or display it prominently on your social media pages and website to market your event.
- If your virtual event requires users to hop in and out of rooms, you may want to consider a different platform.
- Adding panelists to their respective panels is a problem as Zoom sends them reminders for every webinar leading up to their own.
- Since you pay for Zoom by the host, it is an expensive option for larger teams.
- Many users find that Zoom’s video quality is unpredictable, which may result in video streams being blurry and pixelated.
vFairs is the ideal virtual event platform for hosts that are new to online events and require a user-friendly platform to get them started.
- vFairs offers easily customizable event landing pages for your brand that you can use for your sessions, and provides easy access to interface features enabling visitors to register for events seamlessly.
- It features a virtual lobby to welcome visitors and an information desk to help them navigate the virtual event.
- The platform offers booths that enable greater visitor engagement, such as live video, video chat, text messages, images, and audio. Polls and Q/A sessions are also available.
- Exhibitors can access a wide range of ready-made templates to match their brand theme. Visitors can save information in unique virtual briefcases and download it to their desktops at the end of your virtual event.
- The small picture sizes in most booths makes it a challenge to design booths.
- The chat system may slow down in-between events
- Participants who leave an event to switch to another room, will still appear in their previous room. This may confuse booth operator as to how many people are currently attending their event.
Pre-event promotions – Best practices
Your promotional efforts are crucial in creating interest and building hype around your virtual event. Here’s what you can do to boost your initiatives and make your virtual event a success:
Social media channels to drive your success
How can your business leverage social media to cater to the rise in demand for online interactions and engage customers in enticing ways?
Over 1.62 billion users visit Facebook daily, making it a smart choice if you aim to target a wider reach.
You can start promotions by making a Facebook event page, which enables you to create a unique space for your community to stay up to date with your event.
A Facebook event page lets you add images and videos, post timely reminders for your event, and, more importantly – track your attendance list to see which members are attending – and which aren’t.
Most companies use Twitter to highlight product releases, new campaigns, and events to their followers. Twitter’s hashtags avail a unique opportunity to market your virtual event.
By including keywords and phrases associated with your virtual event, you can generate interest and spark conversation around your event. By using these hashtags before and during your event, you can market the virtual event with live tweets and share value with your guests.
Ensure your hashtags are one-of-a-kind and reflect your brand values and ideals – inspiring audience members to share and retweet. A sure-fire way to confirm whether your hashtag is unique is to test it out on twitter to search for exact and similar matches.
Involve your brand sponsors and speakers to join in on the hashtag, too, prompting their fan base to tune into your virtual event as well.
Use your tweets to share value with your audience and encourage them to attend your event to learn more. Link back to your event landing page to drive more traffic and see higher conversions.
At surface level, Instagram may seem nothing more than a platform to post the occasional selfie. That being said, it has immense promotional value for you to take advantage of.
By nature, humans are visual creatures, and Instagram taps into that avenue with its visually engaging content. Instagram’s story polls and live sessions are incredibly interactive features that you can use to your advantage to garner what speakers your audience might like to hear from and what topics they want covered.
Instagram also widely caters to user-generated content (UGC), which allows you to engage your audiences one-on-one by either going live with them, resharing the stories that feature your business, and giving occasional shoutouts to make them feel appreciated.
LinkedIn may seem like an odd one out, but it serves its purpose in helping you leverage professional connections.
LinkedIn goes beyond the scope of a simple job search: it can be utilized for event promotion. LinkedIn’s group feature is a vital tool to boost your promotional efforts. These groups focus on specific topics.
Connect with fellow users and create a group over a common objective that resonates with your brand message and ideals – and take your marketing initiatives from there.
Pro tip: Promote your virtual events with webinar poster templates that can get your events the attention they need to succeed.
Pick an appropriate promotional period
The timing of your marketing efforts is crucial to the success of your virtual event.
If you’re too early, you risk killing interest in your event as a result of the long waiting time associated with it. Too late? And you may fail to generate enough participation to render your event a success.
As a general rule, start marketing two-three weeks before your event goes live to reap the fruits of your labor.
Your priority should be to redirect prospects to your event landing page so that you can spark interest around your event and get them to sign up.
Ensure your landing page gives prospects adequate information on how they can register for the event, when and where you plan to go live, and how they can access the platform. You may also give customers the option of receiving email alerts that update them on your virtual event.
80% of consumers agree that speed is pivotal to positive customer experience. That’s why it is imperative that you make registering for your event quickly and easily.
You can segment the process into two stages:
- Collect their contact info such as email and phone number
- Deliver timely updates and reminders to ensure that they don’t forget about your event.
Utilize email marketing to get prospects to sign up
There are over 3.9 billion email users worldwide.
If your business has a subscription base, you can entice subscribers to join your virtual event by sending them event invites and reminder emails. To target audience members with greater accuracy, use your client database to identify subscribers most likely to participate in your virtual event.
Take the time out to carefully craft your email campaign: when are you going to send them emails, and how far apart? Refrain from spamming your subscribers; it might force them to unsubscribe altogether.
The details that count:
- Send out no more than two to three emails before the event, an eye-catching subject line, and compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) that redirect them to your event landing page.
- Keep it short and concise.
- Perhaps consider adding visuals, emails that include images have a27% open rate.
Pro tip: PosterMyWall’s email campaign tool can help you test and send out emails with different subject lines and visuals to see what attracts the most clicks.
Encourage your audiences to share
Once you register your first few participants successfully, encourage them to share their participation with friends and family and entice them to join as well. People respond far better to product/service recommendations posted by peers and family than those being paddled businesses themselves (self-endorsements.) Moreover, this promotional method comes at no expense to your business or the customer.
An essential step at this stage is to explore ways to motivate them to help you spread the word:
- As soon as they convert on your landing page, display a ‘Thank You’ message prompting them to share your event on their social media accounts.
- Issue a confirmation email, embedding a CTA to share your virtual event with those that might be interested.
- Increase your reach by packing your content with CTAs that ask your viewers to spread the message.
Pro tip: Offer customers personal incentives for sharing your content by giving them early-bird discounts or valuable content such as e-books and free products.
Speakers to act as ambassadors
When setting out terms for your collaboration, ensure speakers are aware that, for the time being, they are to act as your brand ambassadors.
Encourage them to mention your event whenever they can; word of mouth is your most excellent tool. For the most part, speakers are the main attraction of your virtual event, and it’s crucial that fans and followers alike are aware that they are appearing on your channel.
Communicate when and how speakers are to market your event and fire up audiences for your event. You may ask them to share the video snippets you have created or redirect followers to your page for more info.
What they can do:
- Ask your star speakers to use their social media profiles to engage their audiences – they can start with a 15-second Instagram story to announce their guest appearance on your virtual event.
- They may also want to tweet about the topics they’ll speak on. Not only will this encourage fans to tune in, but this may also pique the interest of others who might like to keep up with your industry.
- Remind them to interact with prospects: answering their questions and possibly even going live a few short moments before the event as a reminder for everyone to tune in.
The whole point is to have speakers use their influence to spark interest in your virtual event.
Creating and conducting a successful online event is just the start. Here’s what you can do with the resulting content to keep your audiences coming back for more: Share Snippets To Entice Interest
If you’re looking to boost your content engagement after your virtual event, video marketing is the way to go. Studies suggest that 54% of consumers want more video content from the businesses they support.
By promoting your virtual event with short video snippets, you reveal the purpose of your event without giving away the actual content. It incentivizes users to follow through on the whole video by giving them a glimpse of the value you expect to offer them.
According toWistia, videos that are shorter than two minutes tend to receive better engagement. It’s evident that your event will run at least an hour, if not more – and hopefully, you’ll have a lot of interesting snippets and quotable quotes by the end of it.
The Joe Rogan Experience Clips Channel offers viewers brief video clips of Joe Rogan’s podcasts, enticing them to stick around for the whole thing, or just for the good bits. Moreover, it’s easily shareable and allows him to hit an even larger audience when followers share the video clips with friends and family.
Tips to follow:
- Snip your virtual event recordings to short bits, giving audiences something to bite on and generating hype.
- Upload them to your official YouTube channel, and social media handles to tease followers and get them to tune into the entire event – anything to get the word out.
- Once the bait succeeds in luring customers, include a pop-up link at the end of the snippet, so they can quickly switch over to the full video.
Repurpose content to podcasts
According toEdison Research, 32% of Americans tuned into podcasts last year, and that figure is only likely to grow. Repurposing soundbites from your event into podcast content helps you tap into new audiences and introduce new ones to your brand.
Reflect on the content of your virtual events and see which information you provided will make sense to users without context from the event. If you have a recording in-store, use the podcasts to entice customers to head over to the whole session.
Moreover, repurposing podcasts help with audience growth and retaining customers by creating brand awareness – setting you as an authority figure in your industry when you start the conversation.
With a variety of tools at your disposal, there are endless ways to connect users. Choose a platform that caters to your needs and market them effectively to drive meaningful engagement in your events.
Pick your social media promotion battles on platforms that best cater to your audience, use email and get your speakers to help with promotions. Once the event is done and dusted, you can easily repurpose your webinar to short video snippets, a blog post or even a podcast.
If you are into the concept of virtual events, now is the time to test out this vital lead-generation venue for your business. Your online event promotion campaign can be powerful and effective, especially when you’re using the right platforms and tools.
Ready…set…let’s get started.