Virtual environments are becoming our new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic, which brings challenges and obstacles to many including event hosts. Although this new climate seems hard to navigate at times, there are many creative ways you can convert your live event into a virtual one while still giving your attendees a memorable experience and reaching the goals of your organization.
- Keep events exciting and interactive by using live streaming.
There are many unique ways to use live streaming as either a piece of your event or as the main platform to convert your event virtually. Platforms with live streaming capabilities where your new virtual event can live include YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitch. Having one or multiple guest speakers on a live streamed panel discussion for attendees to tune into will still give them a very comparable learning experience as if they were at a live conference. Other ways to utilize live streaming for different types of events include live product demonstrations for events such as trade shows and expos, live online performances for music events, and live presentations for conventions or summits with speaker(s) answering questions from the audiences before, during, or after the event.
- Use a variety of virtual tools to drive engagement and keep networking alive.
Driving engagement is key in keeping your audience’s attention during both a live event and most importantly, a virtual one since the option to tune out or turn it off completely is much easier to do online. However, there are many tools you can use to keep everyone engaged and even promote networking between attendees during a virtual event. One example is using an online poll to gauge interest in specific content and ask questions of the audience. Twitter is another great engagement tool where you can create a specific event hashtag to drive real time conversations and sharing. Live Q&A sessions can also be a very valuable tool during all different types of virtual events, especially when there is a moderator to field questions and give the speaker the opportunity to answer as many as possible.1
- Team up with an influencer to help promote and reach a target audience.
Influencer marketing can play a vital role in the promotion and engagement of a virtual event. Influencers can promote your event beforehand on their channel as well as post their thoughts during and after the event. If they attend the event virtually, they can also interact with attendees live during streams or sessions to add extra value. Choosing the correct influencer is key to reaching the right attendees and for connecting with new people in your target audience. Making connections with the right audiences helps raise awareness about your organization or product and any current or future events you’re involved with.
- Send an incentive or gift box to boost loyalty and attendance.
Another creative way to enhance an event while transitioning from live to virtual is to mail attendees a gift box or incentive beforehand. This can drive loyalty to your organization and potentially boost attendance to your event. Typically at an event such as a trade show, expo, convention or conference, you would be able to take home branded items, giveaways, or even win a prize in a contest. Therefore, sending these types of items and focusing on ones that attendees will want to keep and use is a key tactic to enhancing the experience of a virtual event. For example, Sprout Social did a great job of sending a gift box ahead of their online Sprout Sessions digital conference to our team. Sending samples of any featured products that people can physically have in front of them while watching a live virtual discussion or demonstration is also a great way to drive engagement and interactions.
- Extend the reach of your event and let your content live online afterwards.
Create a strong impact with your virtual event, whether it is public or private, by extending the reach of your content to both attendees and new audiences. One way to do this is to make your presentations available online for viewing after the event is over in hopes people will continue to engage with and share your content and/or organization. Since they have already attended the event remotely, audience members may be more inclined to revisit in the same format, rather than after a live event. Another great way to showcase highlights from your event, especially if it was private and you would like to recruit more attendance for next time, is to post clips or soundbites from notable speakers on social media platforms to spark new interest.2
Although the transition from live events to virtual ones can be a challenge, there are many creative and exciting ways to successfully execute a digital experience for your attendees.
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1 Trade Shows News Network, Silke Hoersch https://www.tsnn.com/blog/facetoface-virtual-how-turn-any-event-digital-experience