Virtual events aren’t a new concept, but with COVID-19 forcing so many event hosts into the virtual space, thousands of event holders are quickly discovering that there are some unique differences between the virtual space and an in-person venue.
At ReAttendance, we’ve already hosted hundreds of virtual and hybrid events, so we’ve already the important lessons when it comes to making the most of your virtual event and making the transition to the online space as stress free for your attendees and staff.
We’ve written up our best industry practices for how to setup, marketing and run an amazing virtual or hybrid event.
Accessibility is key to your virtual and hybrid events
Before we get to the core of a good virtual and hybrid event, it is important to lay the foundations.
No matter how good the workshops, webinars and conferences of your event are, it will all be for naught if your attendees are unable to attend.
To that end, accessibility must be king and a foremost priority. Make sure you work with your virtual events platform provider to ensure that the event is easy for even the least tech-savvy, as well as accommodating people with audio and visual impairments. Hiring a transcriber to create subtitles and captions, as well as ascertain the needs of individuals ahead of time will be appreciated and show the technical sophistication of your event.
With a complete, interactive and connected schedule, your event will be less mired in the tedium that can come with making sure that everyone is in the right place. With accessibility options in place your event has a much better chance of getting off on the right foot.
Planning for your virtual or hybrid event
He who fails to plan, plans to fail.
Some people will tell you Winston Churchill said that, others Benjamin Franklin. Most likely it was neither of them but the sentiment rings true.
Planning the foundation of your event is a must. Do 80% of the work ahead of time, and you’ll need only do 20% moving forward. The planning stage of an event is where you can really nail the infographics, logos and documentation that will draw sponsors, speakers and ultimately, attendees to your event.
We will expand on each of these factors later in the article, but a lot of them will assume that you have put significant time into planning out key aspects of your event, such as the tone, style and purpose. With a clear message it will be that much easier to attract talented individuals and eager attendees.
Key speakers and great talent
At its core, an event is all about people. With the appropriate research and time, ensure that the most well-known and respected talent is present at your event and the steps that follow will become all the easier.
As part of the foundational planning, build up a dossier of information, documents and infographics that can be sent to prospective speakers and guests to ensure that they understand and are invested in the event you are offering.
Work with your virtual events platform to show them drafts of the cutting edge virtual event that you will be running and the rate of return will speak for itself. Especially given the challenges facing many industries at this time.
Utilise Social Media for your virtual or hybrid event
Ever since the rise of the smartphone, social media had been playing an evermore important role in our day to day lives, so it should be no surprise that it is a must in laying the groundwork for your virtual or hybrid event.
If your event is gathering experts, public figures and industry leaders then the social media presence that can be generated by one or two tweets from each of these could be immeasurable for both exposure and hype.
A tweet, a facebook post, an instagram picture, they all possess an unparalleled personal touch to the followers of these figures that a simple advert could never muster.
A unified hashtag is a great way to ensure that this message is clear, consistent and interlinked. A hashtag for your event will create a powerful online footprint. Just make sure that your hashtag of choice isn’t already taken!
Sample content on Social Media: How to make them want to see more…
With a sustained online social media presence, you can start to generate hype around your event by sharing snippets of content.
Giving a piece of content to a key figure who will be attending, or posting it from the official event account and having others share or retweet it will quickly ensure that a portion of your offering is seen by the maximum number of people across multiple platforms.
Entire groups that would otherwise be inaccessible will see content from your event arriving directly onto their social media feed from figures that they have elected to follow.
Make a tier system of access for your virtual or hybrid event
As your event is spread around the internet through word of mouth, you want people to be able to peak in, like what they see, and want to see more.
This is where a tiered system of access can become invaluable. By ensuring that a portion of your event can be accessible and viewed entirely for free, you can provide an outlet for prospective participants to explore and engage before deciding whether they want to look deeper.
This will offer a much more confident and professional visage than a strict barrier to entry, enhancing the chance of engagement as word of your event spreads across the virtual sphere.
Equally this will make premium access more tantalizing, especially if multiple different tiers of premium access level exist across your event.
All competent virtual event platforms should provide an area where the schedule of your event is easily accessible. This is a great place to include a pricing table.
Integration with your schedule would ensure that people can easily identify both when something is on and whether they are eligible to attend.
Event sponsors can help drive engagement and create new opportunities
With the hype that can be generated from an event, reaching out to sponsors is a no-brainer. The reciprocal relationship that your event and the sponsor forge could become invaluable.
Put together some of the content you are considering for your social media campaign. If they have a significant enough online presence, you could even tweet the invitation across and have them publicly accept, a guaranteed way to drive engagement and make sure that every aspect is visible and publicised.
Familiarise yourself with the software and hardware before the event
It is nearly showtime and no-one knows how to start a workshop. It simply won’t do. Thankfully with a professional virtual events platform such as ReAttendance, this won’t be an issue.
It is vital for both the smooth operation and the appearance of your event that the technology just works. Thankfully with a team of support staff and a system built to be simple, powerful and intuitive, this need not be an issue.
Additionally, the systems that you will be using to host the event will be available from the moment of purchase until the moment the event goes live. In addition to the veteran support team, this means there is every reason that your events software and tech should perform flawlessly.
Showtime! Live coverage on Social Media and live tweeting
Just because it is show-time, doesn’t mean the tweets need to stop. Key moments from the event can make for great content. A quick screenshot and a pithy comment could become internet gold.
With a great virtual events platform, you can ensure that all content from your event is easily captured and converted into prime online material during the event and after.
The legacy of your Event
The Curtain falls on the event and everything has gone as planned. But where the event ends, the legacy of the event begins.
With the right virtual events platform, your event never needs to end when the schedule runs out of activities. The online space will continue to exist as a perfect monument to the achievements of your event.
Allowing people to have a unified space to witness what happened at the last event, and a great launchpad to work towards the next, even bigger event.
A chance to tease what you have in store, build upon your successes and reflect on the feedback you received. Now, with virtual and hybrid events, your event can be remembered and witnessed for years to come.