These days, virtual events are more popular than ever. COVID-19 restrictions have made online events a go-to solution for companies of all sizes. Despite their growing popularity, you may be wondering what exactly is a virtual event? If you've never attended or hosted one, that's OK! Discover what a virtual event is and how it can effectively replace an in-person event for your organization.
What is a Virtual Event?
A virtual event is one that is hosted online rather than in person. Online events include webinars, virtual meetings and conferences, virtual trade shows, networking events, workshops and more. They allow colleagues, clients and potential customers to connect with you anywhere, without the need for a physical location.
The Benefits of Virtual Events
There are many reasons to add a virtual event to your company's communication lineup. A virtual event is:
- More accessible than a physical event with the potential to reach a larger audience. It makes it easy for people with travel, time, health or financial restraints to attend.
- Cost effective. You don't have to rent a physical space and you can save on staff, equipment, travel and food costs.
- A great way to gather and measure data. Depending on the platform, you can track the number and location of attendees, gauge real-time feedback on user activity and session engagement and more.
Virtual Event Planning 101
Once you've decided that a virtual event is a fit for your organization, consider these steps to get started:
Assess Your Audience
Define your target audience. Consider the following questions:
- How tech savvy are they?
- What subjects are of interest in your industry?
- What does you audience want to get out of the experience?
- Is the event for company employees, industry peers, the public?
Identify Your Objective
Define your purpose. For example, is your goal to:
- Promote brand awareness?
- Introduce a new product(s)?
- Raise funds?
- Network with peers?
- Offer internal or external training?
Choose Your Event Format
There are many virtual event formats to choose from. Whatever type you opt for, you'll want to make sure it's interactive and engaging. You can provide content that is pre-recorded, live, or a mix of both. Live streams are great for conferences, workshops and Q&A sessions. Consider your business needs. Are you looking to:
- Provide an educational webinar with a presenter(s) delivering content?
- Plan a virtual conference with keynote speakers, panel discussions, group chats and break-out sessions?
- Launch a product or create an experience at a virtual trade show?
Pick Your Event Platform
Choose a virtual platform that addresses your specific event requirements.
Great for smaller meetings, a video conferencing platform like Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams allows for interactivity and multi-directional communication. They offer breakouts rooms, let you share documents, etc.
A livestreaming service such as Facebook Live, LinkedIn, Periscope or YouTube gives you greater control and customization over the presentation. You can stream high-quality video to a larger audience. Content is mainly delivered one-way.
Virtual Event Platform
For an event requiring multiple streams, virtual booths and more, consider a more robust virtual event platform. It serves as a virtual location where attendees register, live stream, network, attend virtual booths, review virtual products, participate in sessions and provide feedback. A customizable platform also allows you to showcase your brand, integrate sponsorships and more. Some examples of virtual event platforms include Brazen and vFairs.
Bonus Tip: Augmented reality (AR) that brings a product or speaker to life as 3D hologram is a great way to make a splash at virtual tradeshows.
Schedule and Market Your Virtual Event
Keep your event top of mind with attendees to ensure your turn-out is a success.
- Pick a time and date that works for your target audience. For international events, take into account holidays and major events. With live content, it's a good idea to upload the video afterwards for viewers to watch on their own time.
- For live streams, consider the background the viewer will see. Clean up office clutter or create a branded backdrop.
- Communicate! Make sure your audience knows what the tech requirements are and how to join ahead of time to avoid last minute issues. Keep attendees and presenters up to date and aware of any changes.
- Market the event. Leverage your email list, social media posts and the platform you are using. Tweet, hashtag, post teasers, engage with photos or vlogs. Use the tools that will capture your audience.
After your virtual event is over, review data and feedback to identify successes and areas for improvement.
Are you looking to host a virtual event? Reach out to our experienced team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how we can help make your online event a success.