How to Host a Virtual Event
While virtual events may sound futuristic, they're becoming our new norm. Over the last few weeks, they are popping up all over the place, from public schools to daily work meetings and even Virtual Happy Hours.
What is a virtual event?
A virtual event is any organized meet-up that takes place online rather than in a physical location. These can range from Virtual Coffee with Friends to Large Scale Conferences with thousands of attendees. Even live-streaming comedians reading Historical Novels can be a Virtual Event, apparently.
Here's a rundown of the different kinds of online business events your company can host.
How-to's, tutorials, and classes
Do you have a product that needs explaining? How about a class that you would normally host in person, yet aren't allowed to right now? These are perfect for showing people "How-To's" from everything from how to knit to how to build a website. What about online yoga and classes taught by chefs? You think about it, there should be a Virtual Class for it.
Training and courses
Onboarding new employees or teaching a first time home buyer class? A virtual event might be just what you need. These allow you to share skills, without sharing proximity.
With everyone glues to their computer and devices right now, give them something to look at! Maybe it's a look around your home office, a tour of your garden, or the virtual tour of your neighborhood from the perspective of your dog!
Interviews and performances
Tap into your experts! You can host a virtual event with your favorite lender, yoga teacher, hairdresser, anyone with skills! Share their expertise with others! Or maybe you know a great musician that you can host, and allow everyone in on a private concert!
Virtual Open House
Are you a real estate and want to keep lead generating? Consider Virtual Open Houses. We dive deep on this later this week. Once published I’ll link back with this.
Networking, Family, & Friends!
In our current situation, we NEED Virtual Events! This can be virtual happy hours, virtual family reunions, and virtual networking events! We have even hosted virtual game night! You imagine it and you can make it!
How to host a virtual event
There are so many options out there right now, and here are a few of the best!
Social stories are all the rage right now, and they’re getting larger by the day! Stories are perfect for building anticipation for your event, where you can conduct polls, take questions, and have fun graphics! Not to mention, Going Live in your stories (especially on Instagram) garners the highest engagement among many demographics.
A typical webinar is an online presentation held in real-time. These can be saved and shared and used for years to come. This allows participation or lecturing.
Webinar platform options include:
Social Live streams
Almost every social media channel has a Live feature these days. They are huge for driving engagement! Facebook touts that live videos average six times more engagement than standard videos. Livestreams are known for driving engagement.
Social Livestream platforms include:
Tips for hosting virtual events
All events come with logistical challenges. Here's how to avoid hiccups during your virtual event.
Create a game plan
You’ll have lack luster success if you don’t make a plan. Just like in person events, you need a strategy to pull it off with success.
Whether big or small, offline or online, every event should have a strategy. Start with a key goal and concept, then take it from there. The earlier you can get planning, the better.
Some things to consider:
Where is this going to be seen? Do I want to save the video for future use? Will this be free? How many attendees do I expect? Do I need to track the data? Can people access the event after it's over? Do people need to register? Have I test driven the system I want to use?
2. Choose the right time
One of the most important questions, time. You can use social media to poll perspective attendees to ask for feedback. You may also consider the same event, at direct times to account for Time Zone changes. My 5 Am club hosts at 5 AM, 6 AM, & 7 AM, to ensure that participation covers everyone who would like to be included. It’s also important to consider other events happening at the same time, and the demographics of those you are looking to participate.
By the way, these are the best times to post on social media.
3. Promote the event
"Build it and they will come" may be a fallacy, but "promote it and they will come," isn't. Especially when you offer a good incentive.
What are you key selling points? Do you have exclusive access to a home that they can't get into? A unique Skill that they want to learn? Or a presenter that is noteworthy?
Whatever it is, make sure your UVP is clear.
Share the event details by email and on social media. If you plan to run ads, target them strategically and choose the right format. According to Adobe, registrations tend to spike two-to-three weeks before an event. So it's a good idea to ramp up around this time.
Use social media to your advantage. You can create countdowns in your Stories, create an event on Facebook and post weekly, then daily, then a few times a day as the event approaches. Consider going Live to promote your event throughout the week leading up to it. Add in Eventbrite as another free alternative for promotion.
4. Prepare for tech troubles
There will be issues, just know that. Test everything beforehand to ensure that you know what you’re doing. Run a rehearsal and identify the issues. Even with testing, things can go array. Just know that. You may also have issues with your attendees. They might not know how to mute or unmute themselves, they might accidently share their screen, or be super loud in the background. All the more reason for you knowing how to control everything, so that the interruptions are resolved quickly.
5. Encourage engagement
Ask for engagement! When people know that they can chime in or post a comment, they will! You can do this before an event or during! Get attendees to post questions before an event, that way you are prepared with all the answers that they’ll be expecting.
--Tisa Dixson, Lifestyle Realtor & Business Strategist