Virtual Events: The New Normal
Are you thinking about hosting your parties or events online? These days, virtual events are the new way to engage with people. Virtual events often aim to create a similar experience to an actual physical event by making use of what the Internet has to offer.
It may not seem like it on the surface, but virtual events are actually very highly interactive and even have more audience and interaction than an in-person one, as it supports a global audience. They’re convenient, and it’s easy to participate in them anywhere you are. And unlike physical events, they’re not required to be “torn down” at the conclusion of the live date/s.
A variety of virtual events are being hosted nowadays – from birthday parties to business meetings, virtual trade shows and art galleries, to Facebook live streams and online job fairs, etc. – but some of them don’t truly get the results that hosts want out of them.
Here are some tips to help you set up your virtual event and make it successful every time:
1. Set Your Goal
This first step might not sound hard, but in reality online events cannot accomplish as much as a physical event can. In person, it’s possible to do multiple things in one event. In an online setting however, you have to make it clear to yourself what your primary objective is, and the rest can follow.
Your primary goal could be to generate leads, to produce profit, to make your brand recognizable, or to generate sales. Pick your top priority from these and structure your event from that, and then maybe pick a secondary goal as something you’re hoping would happen as well.
2. Adjust Pricing
People would not pay as much for an online event as they would in an in-person one. The great thing about this though is you won’t need to worry about overhead expenses too much. You don’t have to pay for the lighting crew, the sound system crew, or the venue space.
All of these are significantly less involved. Virtual events mean your production cost is lower, and therefore your tickets should be priced accordingly.
3. Adjust Your Expectations
While live events are a great place to, say, sell products and services, online events aren’t 100% successful with this. Virtual events though are great for driving traffic; it’s easy to get a lot of people involved. Start introducing your product or service with a how-to tutorial, and provide tips, tricks and instructions to get the audience interested.
Create a Q&A segment for better engagement. Sales won’t come as quick compared to physical events, but adjusting your expectations will make your focus on getting your audience’s trust more, and so your sales (or whatever your goal/s may be) will slowly build up from there.
4. Find the Right Partners
Find someone who is keen for exposure. They’d want you to build visibility for them, and in return they become motivated to promote your virtual event. Reach out to micro-influencers – they’re hungry for lead generation, and they have a solid following. If you are getting a speaker or two, provide them with the complete details they need to promote the event.
5. Find the Right Date
Before letting your audience “save the date”, make sure to do a little research. You don’t want your event to compete with other scheduled online events. Consider your viewers’ time zones, too. Try your best to pick a time that’s best for as many of your customers and followers as possible. You can also ask your audience beforehand the best time to do it – you can Tweet about it, or create a poll on Instagram Stories.
6. Take Advantage of Social Media
Speaking of Twitter and Instagram, social media is one of the best places to promote your virtual event. Besides polls, Instagram has plenty of tools to help you promote your online event, such as countdowns and swipe-up links. Twitter’s a great place to get people to send suggestions and engage in conversations.
You can also create a Facebook event with all the information stated. Create unique hashtags to extend your event’s reach, and make sure to provide links and show people where they can go to register and find more information. Normally the best time to start promotions is 2 to 3 weeks before the main event.
7. Select Reliable Live Stream Services
Zoom is a popular and free online meeting software, with added features when paid. Facebook Live, Instagram Live and YouTube Live are some of the most popular platforms to host webinars, panel discussions, virtual summits and other online sessions.
8. Prepare for Technical Difficulties
Before starting, test your Internet connection and have your speakers or guests do the same. Check your gear for any faults. Prepare pre-recorded videos and presentations in case your event glitches. Run a rehearsal if possible. The sooner you can determine problems, the sooner you can solve them.
9. Engage, Engage, Engage
People love it when they get noticed. Create opportunities for engagement. You can make them ask questions and have you and/or your guest/s answer them on the spot, or simply shout out their names and thank them for being present. At the end of the event, ask for feedback for further improvement.
Virtual events have been done in the past, and they are most certainly here to stay. As all kinds of industries continue to grow and evolve, so will the manner of virtual events in the future. Tomorrow’s virtual events may look and feel nothing like today’s. But by following these easy steps, you’re on your way to making virtual events successful, one live stream at a time.