If the global pandemic revealed anything, it is that distance is no longer an issue when it comes to organizing a successful event. In fact, companies have found hosting a virtual event to be a universal, cost-effective way to engage with their audiences that continues to be relevant in the post-COVID-19 world. With the right virtual event ideas and a sound strategy, you can increase your reach by extending it beyond people’s ability to travel and achieve worthwhile returns. Here is what you need to know to host a virtual event to be remembered.
What Is a Virtual Event?
Before you wonder how to host a virtual event, it’s important to get clear on exactly what it is and how it can be beneficial to your business. In the strictest sense of the term, a virtual event is a gathering that takes place online, within a virtual environment rather than at a physical location. The idea is to recreate the feeling of attending an event in person through a seamless experience supported by the right hosting platform.
Conferences, webinars, live shopping events, hybrid events… there are as many possibilities as there are companies! It’s up to you to be creative and to study your audience to bring people something unique.
Here are our best tips to help you understand how to host a virtual event.
1. Get to Know Your Audience: How to plan a virtual event that hits its mark
Without understanding your audience’s preferences and engagement triggers, it is impossible to host a virtual event successfully. Regardless of whether you are organizing a B2B or a B2C event, the logic is the same: Do your homework.
Start by determining what characterizes your target persona. What is their age group, occupation, level of education, lifestyle, family situation, etc.? Be sure to gauge how familiar they are with multimedia in general, and on which platforms in particular they are especially active. This will help you decide what type of event will foster the most engagement.
If you don’t have access to relevant data, don’t hesitate to leverage social media, where you can even post polls or ask people to share their thoughts!
2. The Right Virtual Event Platform: How to host a virtual event that just works
When the technology doesn’t deliver, all the planning and strategizing in the world won’t be of any help. So, how to host a virtual event knowing that your videoconferencing service won’t let you down? It all begins with the right choice of virtual event platform.
Decide what live streaming features are essential to you and select your service provider based on the quality of their offering. For instance, if you are looking to host a live video shopping event, you’ll want to make sure your platform has the right functionalities.
Specialist services are a great way to give your event a more professional look and feel.
3. Calculate Your Budget: How to optimize your virtual event ROI
There are a number of expenditures to keep track of when it comes to online events. Understanding how to host a virtual event successfully also means being able to foresee how fruitful your various investments are likely to be.
For example, if you hire a high-quality speaker and pay them accordingly, how much difference will it make to your participants? The idea is to determine which expenses to focus on and how much of your budget you should allocate to each aspect of your campaign.
4. Perfect Your Marketing Campaign
However awesome your event might be, you can’t expect a great turnout if nobody knows that you’re hosting it. Your target audience should be informed as to your upcoming event and even hyped up if you have anything to say about it. Social media should be at the heart of your marketing approach as it provides a space where you can draw the attention of people who are already interested in your brand.
Be sure to make full use of the functionalities at your disposal, from hashtags to links (to a sign-up page, for instance), all the way to stories where you can share some behind-the-scenes.
5. Get the Timing Right
Knowing how to host a virtual event also means understanding its limitations and taking measures to circumvent them. If you are addressing a local audience, then issues related to the ideal date and time should be minimal and come down to your participants’ preferences. For instance, a B2C event will probably appeal to a greater number of individuals if it’s held on a weekend, such as on a Saturday evening, when they have fewer obligations. Targeting a global audience complicates matters due to the different time zones to take into account.
As far as accommodating your speakers, you will also need to decide whether you will be hosting your entire event from a single studio or if you will you have multiple hosts scattered across various locations.
6. Set Yourself Apart
Being disruptive in how you host a virtual event not only provides a unique experience for participants, but it also makes them want to come back for more and talk about it to others. Dare to be different and don’t hesitate to be very intentional and specific in your choices as it will lend a tailored feel to your event.
For example, if you are hosting a live shopping event, you could emphasize the connection with your attendees by polling your audience on what products they want to hear about next for real-time feedback. This will make for a more spontaneous exchange and give your viewers a more active role, thus bolstering their interest.
Knowing how to host a virtual event and genuinely understanding the workings of this approach can mean all the difference between simply following a trend and actually leveraging its full potential. With the right tools at your disposal and a few creative ideas, you can bring a unique virtual event experience to a well-targeted audience and build a true fan base that will keep coming back for more.