With UK events industry forecast to have lost up to £58 billion in 2020, businesses are now transforming most of their content online. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s nice to know what options for virtual events are out there.
Considering the current climate, it’s looking ever more likely that businesses will have to start making use of virtual events a lot more.
Here you will find tips on how to execute a virtual event as well as some useful tools to help you with the process.
What is a virtual event?
A virtual event can consist of a variety of different forms however, the most popular ones tend to be a conference and a live stream.
Virtual events be of great use to your business. How?
- Increase the amount of people who attend due to unlimited reach available online
- Eliminate any travel needs and fees for your business and attendees
- Reduce costs of resources including printed media and merchandising
- Attract more prolific speakers/hosts from around the world
- Make it more comfortable for you to host
You can be a presenter from your own home without having the hassle of having to travel and set-up an event.
Even, if you want to charge for a virtual event people are more likely pay to as they’re cutting costs in terms of having to book a hotel.
With there now being so many virtual event platforms out there, it’s never been easier to be able to promote, create and host an event for your business online.
Types of virtual events
As mentioned previously an online conference is one of the most popular types of virtual event. They are also are a good way of making new connections.
A great trick is to send sneak peaks and snippets of the conference content out in advance. Do this when someone purchases a ticket as this way, they are more likely to make the effort to attend. Plus you have the potential to increase interest via word of mouth!
There are many software available to host your conference, including Go To Meeting. Actually, there are three options: GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, and GoToTraining. They all allow desktop and application sharing, one-click recording, drawing tools, voice conferencing abilities, and more. You can get a 30-day free trial, but after that it’s $49/month.
Alternatively, you can host online conferences for free using tools such as LinkedIn Live where you can host keynote speeches and have panels of guests and speakers.
Webinars are also a great way to host an event and give customers a feeling of dedicated care, that conferences might not offer. As these are based specifically around a topic, you can hand hold attendees through it, finishing with a Q&A session. The value for those attending is that they can get real-time advice direct from the source of knowledge (AKA you!).
You can also gain new leads and build relationships with other businesses within your industry.
Live streaming can be done simply by having a social media platform such as Instagram or Facebook and using their live features. These can even be saved and added to your profile highlights, so followers are able to re-watch them.
This is a good way to reach out to the customers you already have following you. You may wish to reveal competitor winners or launch new products this way.
Overall, it cuts costs and can be good if your business is just starting out. You can use the story features in order to pre-plan letting your followers know when you will be running an event.
Podcasts are not an automatic go-to for businesses when considering a virtual event but they’re definitely becoming more and more popular. They are appealing to many people thanks to their on-the-go listening ability.
They’re relatively low-demand in terms of resources and time required to produce them. You can also repurpose existing content either by using it as topic basis or emailing it out pre- or post event! Here’s an idea… Why not take a blog post and turn it into a podcast debate, weighing up the pros and cons of said topic?
Use platforms like SoundCloud to host your podcasts – you get try it for free for 30-days!.
How do you execute a virtual event?
Tip Number 1
As mentioned before creating a plan is important! There should be a strategy behind every event so start by having a main goal then go from there. Your objective could be something such as wanting to increase traffic to your site or generating leads.
Asking yourself these questions, when would the best time be to host this event and what data to you want to gain from it?
Tip Number 2
Start by promoting the event in advance; make sure to advertise what your event can offer that’s different to those already out there.
Identify your key selling point. Share the details of your event on social media and make use of marketing tools such as email newsletters creating a link that leads to sign-up for the event. Zoom handily creates individual links for different sources so you have a clear picture of who is signing up from what source.
Tip Number 3
Make it accessible to everyone.
This doesn’t necessarily mean making the event free but make sure the format is clear for everyone to understand.
Use bold fonts, clear language and providing captions.
Tip Number 4
Encourage engagement during the event.
- Ask people to submit questions within a live chat – you can answer them live or follow up post-event
- Welcome people in as they join
- Create a hashtag and encourage people to tweet about it
- You could even run a Q&A during the event to correspond with what’s being discussed
- Post-event, keep the conversation going by asking people for their thoughts and opinions
What tools are there for virtual events?
Microsoft teams has an extension known as Microsoft Teams Live allowing you to schedule and organise events that can be streamed to a much larger audience.
YouTube allows you to live stream. You’ll need a channel first but it allows you to easily stream via webcam and also upload and save the videos afterwards. It’s a great way to reach a wider audience; you can cross-promote it onto other social media platforms to draw traffic to your channel.
Zoom also has a webinar feature. On the free plan, you can host up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes. This is a great starting option, which you can later build on when your webinar plan is more established. We use Zoom for all our meetings and marketing call uses and definitely recommend it!
The list of tools for virtual events goes on… Which ones have you used before? Let us know in the blog comments.
If you haven’t already thought about hosting a virtual event now more than ever is the time to start!