If we’ve learned anything in 2020, it’s that virtual events are here to stay. Whether it’s to meet budgeting constraints or observe health and safety rules, virtual events can offer significant benefits if well executed. To help you fully and successfully engage your virtual audience, try these eight steps.
Set your virtual event up for success
Let’s refer to this part as the ideation phase. If you want your virtual event to go off without a hitch, you’ll want to put plenty of forethought and collaborative effort into the planning phase. Consider these questions as you get started.
Who is your audience?
Think about who will be attending your virtual event and really try to nail down what resonates with the group.
- What do they like?
- What are the best platforms for reaching them?
- What causes them to react positively?
Identifying these key traits will help you to successfully formulate the smaller pieces of your virtual event.
Who will speak at your virtual event?
Depending on your budget, this may or may not be where you want to dedicate some of your funds. You want to create excitement with your virtual event and having a well-known speaker could be the way to drum up extra enthusiasm.
What will they talk about?
Compelling topics that resonate with your audience nearly sell themselves. Have you ever listened to a TED talk? TED speakers are engaging, they drive their points with storytelling, and they make it personal. Use these strategies and you’ll be well on your way to a winning virtual event.
What’s your schedule?
Think carefully about your schedule. Remember that virtual engagement isn’t the same as in-person participation. You’ll want to find ways to keep the attention of your virtual audience and keep presentations on point. Be concise, but compelling, and don’t belabor unnecessary topics or talking points.
Promote wisely to tease your virtual event
To truly make your virtual event a success, you need to let people know about it. Time to whip out your marketing toolbox and go to town. This is where you hype your event.
Identify your most successful marketing tools and start there.
- Do you have a large newsletter subscriber list? Make sure you make your virtual event a star feature.
- Does your website get a nice amount of traffic? Make your virtual event a landing page or develop a microsite (more on that later).
- Good social presence? Let your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook (etc.) followers know the details.
Give time to tease your virtual event and let your customers, clients, followers, and admirers know that you plan to make it a fun and worthwhile event.
Social media engagement for your virtual event
Whether you have a love or hate relationship with social media, there’s no denying the benefits of engaging your virtual audience on social platforms. Word spreads quickly in the social universe and it’s an easy way to let attendees share their participation. Here a few things to consider for using social as part of your virtual event.
Develop a hashtag and ask your virtual audience to use it as they participate. This lets you easily identify anyone taking part in your virtual event and track your marketing efforts. It also lets your virtual event attendees find each other and interact together.
Another great way to create excitement is to find ways to connect participants in activities or discussions that lead up to your actual virtual event. You could host a virtual scavenger hunt or show and tell to generate that enthusiasm to carry you through the virtual event. It offers the added bonus of additional exposure.
The social conversation
Don’t ignore the social conversation. If you take efforts to engage on social media as part of your virtual event, make sure you are participating in the conversation and showing that people’s eagerness is being noticed and appreciated. Designate a person to simply manage the conversation.
Give your virtual event a microsite
A microsite is a helpful strategy for targeting your virtual audience. A microsite allows you to track information and keep virtual event data consolidated. Organizations can also brand and design a microsite to keep virtual audiences up to date regarding event details. Adding forms and QR codes also helps you gather any contact details and promote your event.
A microsite can be particularly beneficial if much of your audience will be watching from their home offices. Most companies do not keep their customer’s home addresses on file, which is essential if you want to ensure any swag or direct mail marketing ends up in your attendees’ hands.
Make your marketing tactile. Give your virtual audience a reason to remember your organization and your event. Try complementing all your virtual efforts with tangible ones using 3D direct mail marketing. Allocate some of your budget for a virtual event kit that speaks to your audience which can be used as part of the event itself and serves as a future reminder of the positive experience had by all. The options are many and you can cater your selections to your budget.
Targeting a group of coffee lovers? Select a nice brew. Outdoor enthusiasts? Choose some branded campfire supplies, like a s’more-making kit or cozy blanket. There are tons of original and creative options for any audience. (Psssst…this is precisely what we do. Tactive partners with organizations to help them develop great marketing campaigns that fit any budget and generate excitement. We see you through from concept to completion, ideation to distribution.)
Make it accessible
All your planning will be irrelevant if your virtual audience can’t access the event. Keep the following in mind:
- Choose your platform wisely: Evaluate your attendees and select a platform that can accommodate your technological and event needs. Do you need breakout rooms? How many participants can your platform support? Are there audio controls?
- Make it easy to get there at the time of the event: Can participants easily access your virtual event? Did you send the link in a reliable channel? Do attendees need a passcode to join? Have you considered time-zones of your attendees?
Consider all possible trouble areas and anticipate those in advance.
Drive the fun at your virtual event
We have all felt the digital fatigue that comes from endless virtual meetings and work calls. It can be exhausting, to say the least. When virtual events are a must, it’s important that you go the extra mile and make it engaging, a break from the rigamarole.
Got a group of tech junkies? Maybe you want to gamify your event or hold a contest with some great tech swag for a giveaway. Group of beer lovers? How about some microbrew trivia games or awesome freebies to a cool brewery? Be creative and cater to your virtual audience. But, most of all, make it something fresh and fun.
Follow-up with incentives
Your attendees have given you their attention—now it’s time for them to be rewarded! Show your virtual audience that you appreciate their attendance and engagement. As a follow up to your virtual event, it’s a good idea to offer a follow-up incentive. This could include a discount code for swag or a free trial.
Engagement is key. Your virtual event doesn’t have to be a budget-buster or overly elaborate. If you create a fun virtual event that was planned with your audience in mind, it’ll be a success.
Get the Checklist
Looking for a step-by-step guide to engaging your audience at your next virtual event? We’ve got you covered!
This two-sided PDF has everything to help you and your team as you plan a virtual event, including helpful questions and to-do items. It’s a surefire way to leave your audience asking, “When is the next one!?”