While virtual events are relatively inexpensive compared with in-person events, that doesn’t make them any easier to plan and host.
Virtual events are online events that happen on such platforms as Instagram, Facebook, Zoom, Twitter and Clubhouse, just to name a few. In addition, there are an increasing number of specialized virtual event platforms specifically designed to support webinars and conferencing.
Types of virtual events include:
- Fundraising events
- Social gatherings
- Networking events
- Shopping events
- Team-building activities
- Hiring events
While about 92 percent of companies have continued hosting virtual events even after physical events resumed after the pandemic, about 53 percent of attendees are experiencing “virtual fatigue,” and about 48 percent of companies say that pushing attendance is their biggest challenge.
The following are seven tips to plan for a successful virtual event.
Start with clear goals
How do you know if a virtual event is successful if you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve? Before you dive into planning mode, take a moment to solidify your goals.
Why do you want to throw this virtual event?
Commit to setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and communicate those to your team so that everyone is on the same page. S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
Check out our seven tips to set achievable goals.
Consider your target audience
When it comes to the consumers you’re looking to reach, it’s important to consider whether a virtual event makes sense for them. Some questions to ask yourself:
- How tech-savvy are they?
- What subject areas in your industry are they most interested in?
- How familiar are they with social media and other webinar platforms?
The answers to these questions will help guide you with the premise of your virtual event and how to execute it.
Not sure about who your target audience is? Check out our seven tips.
Choose the right platform
As mentioned above, there are many platforms to consider when planning your virtual event. Whether it’s a general social media platform where you want to go live (like Facebook or Instagram) or a more specialized platform, the key is that it fits your needs and budget.
Other considerations include:
- Target audience
- Ease of use
- Any special features
Although you’ll want to plan for one platform, it never hurts to play it safe and have a backup platform in mind in case there are any audio or video issues that arise.
Timing is everything
Timing truly is everything. Picking the best time for your target audience can be tricky. You might want to send out a survey in advance, or there might be a time that was successful in the past.
Either way, think about whether other time zones are in factor, as well as how long the actual virtual event should be.
Create a clear virtual event agenda
Your agenda entirely depends on the type of event you’re planning.
Are there speakers? Needed Q&A time? Structured introductions? You’ll want to build in engagement opportunities with your audience to keep them engaged during the event.
Whatever is involved should be mapped out time-wise so that there is no confusion and no awkward downtime. You can even plan ahead for what links might need to be shared and at what time.
Moderators can help keep everything on track, so it doesn’t hurt to identify who can work in the backend to make sure everything stays on track.
Promote, promote, promote
The promotion of your virtual event shouldn’t be a surprise. In fact, it’s likely the first thing you might think of when it comes to planning.
You’ll want to think through all the ways you can reach your target audience while also communicating why this virtual event is something they should attend. What will they get out of it? What’s in it for them?
Also, give yourself enough time. Most marketers need between three and six weeks to promote a small virtual event successfully, but for large virtual conferences, about 65 percent of marketers need more than six weeks for promotion.
Plan for after the virtual event
Once your event is over, your work is not done yet. You should plan to communicate with your attendees afterward. You can thank them for attending, ask for any feedback and even promote other events you might have in the future (or how to find out about future events).
In addition, you’ll want to debrief with your team internally. What went well and what could have gone better? Were the goals you set reached? What takeaways can you apply to future virtual events?
Remember to keep your target audience in mind and give yourself enough time to plan and promote effectively.
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