What is a virtual event?
Rapidly increasing in popularity, a virtual event is simply an experience that involves people interacting in an online environment instead of meeting in a physical location. As we find ourselves challenged by getting together – whether for work or for play – virtual events help us stay connected.
What types of virtual events are there?
A virtual event can run the gamut of styles and purposes. From remote workshopping to virtual job fairs and onboarding, to corporate holiday parties, summits, seminars, and large events, whatever your goals there’s a virtual event to help you achieve them. Additionally, virtual events are both cost-effective and convenient for people who would otherwise not be able to attend a physical event.
How to plan a virtual event
As with most things, the more you plan, the better things go. Although the type of event you are hosting will play a large part in how to plan your virtual event, keeping these pointers in mind will help you stay on track.
Understand your audience
How tech-savvy are they? Are there areas of your industry that would be of particular interest to them? From discounts to sweepstakes, what offers do they respond best to? What speakers or panels would they find more interesting or educational? What activities or interactive elements will best engage them? As they say, the more you know, the more you know.
How to choose the best virtual event format
This depends on the goal and type of virtual event you want to host. If you are looking for something small and streamlined like a virtual conference, it could be as simple as hosting a panel of guests with a Q&A. For offsite events, virtual trade shows, and holiday parties, you will want something more robust. The key is to create a unique experience with great engagement tools on a reliable platform. Most services offer a free trial so you can familiarize yourself with the basic functionalities, while testing-out their virtual event planning services.
Deciding on the best time and date
A successful event is all about timing. That's why choosing an optimal time and date for your virtual event shouldn’t be left to chance. When considering your event, take international time zones, religious holidays, and any major events into account. Would evenings and weekends be best? Or is your target more of a daytime audience? You could even consider reaching out to your audience to source what time they would prefer. However, don’t worry, you can always record the event to share afterwards for those that couldn’t attend
Choosing a virtual event platform
There are lots of live-streaming services out there, so how do you choose the one that’s best for you? It’s really as easy as deciding which one offers the capabilities necessary to achieve your goals. Here are some ideas and considerations to help you choose:
- How easy is it to set up and join events?
- Do they have ample IT support that’s easy to access?
- What level of engagement do they offer?
- How robust are the interactivity tools?
- Do they provide interactive tools like Q & A, event chat, polling and hand-raising to help engage your audience?
- How does social media integrate for various roles including speakers, attendees, and marketing?
- What social media networks do the virtual events platform integrate with?
- Can your attendees connect, share quotes and screenshots throughout your event
- Do they offer high-quality sound and video?
- How extensive are their moderator controls?
- Is the platform customizable?
- Are there enhanced security features?
- Do they have solid moderator controls?
- Do they offer encrypted video, second level authentication, and/or the ability to expel a participant?
- How’s their pre-and post-event support?
- Do they offer a recording feature for after event playback and sharing?
- What is their follow up support, CRM, and event management experience?
- How extensive are their analytic and reporting features?
The answer to these questions will help you find the top players in the field.
How to market your live event
Like on-site events, virtual events rely on marketing to get the word out there. Use these tips and tricks to market your event before, and after your event.
- Start promoting on your paid media and digital channels at least two weeks beforehand and continue to ramp up promotion as you approach the day of the event. Email marketing with the help of an event marketing platform will get the word out fast.
- Be a social butterfly with your social media. Make sure to include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Ticktock. Create a unique hashtag to help spread the word through all available channels.
- Link out to other content, such as speaker bios, blogs, and vlogs.
- Promote on your homepage to direct potential attendees to the site using social media, email marketing, and any other forms of promotion at your disposal.
- Use a newsletter (if you have one) and email your subscribers with links to the event signup page and other promotional material.
- Don’t forget to have one big, final push through all available channels the day before the big event to encourage attendance.
- Once your event is underway, you can stream through Facebook Live, YouTube Live or another streaming platform to reach millions instantly
- Have a follow-up email ready to go with any promotions or announcements, as well as links to access on-demand recordings or relevant materials. Think about including a survey to guarantee first-hand feedback that could be useful when planning your next event. Be sure to continue the conversation on social media by posting over the next few weeks and using your hashtag whenever possible. Keep a list of any positive quotes or feedback, then ask for permission to use them as testimonials for future marketing material.
- Be sure to follow up after your event with a recording for those that missed your event and/or to repurpose your event as appropriate as an on-demand webinar, training guide, or keepsake for event attendees.
How to engage your audience
Although there are many benefits to virtual events, one of the more challenging aspects is keeping the audience engaged. That’s because a lot of virtual events end up creating an atmosphere where people sit and passively listen to content for hours on end. Here are a few simple rules that will help you keep your audience focused and engaged.
- Make it succinct. Keeping it from 30 to 60 mins will ensure everyone stays alert.
- Know your goals and make sure the participants do as well. Tell the audience how the event will unfold, what kind of methods you will use, and what supplies, tools, or devices, if any, they will need. That way, no one will be caught off guard or be unprepared and left scrambling to get ready.
- Have a list of participant names in front of the facilitator so they can address people individually throughout the event. Doing this adds a personal touch that makes people feel welcome while keeping them engaged.
- Make use of collaboration tools such as employing live polling, Q&A, gamification, and social media. Ensure every participant can use the chosen tools, by preparing clear instructions or if necessary, holding a pre-training session.
- Delegate experience and media elements so your audience can see, hear, and engage through their laptop or mobile device.
- Get to know your control panel so you can manage the event, keeping it moving and problem-free the whole way through.
- Social media is a great tool to encourage attendees to post pictures and comments using your hashtag, as well as interacting with the content and each other.
How to capture leads
Since you’re holding a virtual event, important stakeholders, potential buyers, new clients, and others who could not have attended an in-person event can now join in. Make sure to use the data gathered before, during, and after your event to qualify leads, measure event success, and plan for next year. Here are some things you might want to capture.
- Registration numbers and demographic attendee information
- Email open and click-through rates
- Post-event survey results, session ratings, and any other available feedback
- Social media engagement
- As well as the number and quality of leads
Remember a successful virtual event is all about lead generation, so it’s crucial to follow up on all of these touchpoints as soon as possible post-event.
How to convert a live event into a virtual one
With on-site events being cancelled all around the globe, it’s important to know how to convert a physical event to a virtual one. Making an event virtual isn’t that hard if you have the right infrastructure in place. Follow these simple steps to turn any in-person event into a virtual event.
- Update the event website, as well as any and all forms of communication, including social media, newsletters and email to let attendees know the event is going virtual. Make sure to include the reason why and what to expect next.
- Reimagine and rework the event. Virtual environments are different from real ones. Start thinking about your platform’s tools and how you can use them to your advantage to entertain and engage the audience, capture leads, or increase employee retention.
- Rehearse. You’re probably not going to be a virtual expert the first or even second time around. So, make sure to leave plenty of time to figure out your platform and allow everyone presenting to become familiar with the environment. Preload videos, pay attention to the video and sound quality, and learn to use polling, Q&A, and security features to make sure everything goes smoothly on the big day.
BlueJeans and the art of virtual events
So, now you know all about hosting a virtual event, we’d love to talk to you about what we have to offer. Whether it’s your first event or you’re an old pro, we can help you achieve your event goals, and even add a little extra to make it truly your own.
Think big. Think Broadcast Live or Share On-Demand
Host as many as 150 on-camera presenters and engage up to 50,000 attendees. And for those who couldn’t be at the main event, be sure to record it for post-event viewing. Our award-winning multimedia webinar experience featuring HD video and Dolby Voice® audio will guarantee everyone involved will look and sound as good as they feel.
Leverage popular integrations for a very popular experience
Turn your virtual event into a full-stack marketing machine with promotion, amplification, and follow-up support from popular marketing automation, CRM, social media, and event management platforms. Our modern, interactive webinar experience brings together Q&A, polling, and rich moderator controls allowing you to engage customers and prospects with Marketo access to nurture your leads pre- and post-webinar. That way you can guarantee you get all of the buzz without any of the kill.
Qualify leads in real-time, every time
Since most virtual events are all about generating leads, you’ll want to keep on top of things as they unfold. Send product-specific polling questions to evaluate buyer behavior and enable question up-voting to respond to hot topics. We’ll take care of the quality so you can focus on the quantity.
So now that you've read "Virtually Effortless Virtual Events" why not try BlueJeans for your next virtual event! Click here to try free for 14 days.