Innovation is a good thing. At least when it comes to virtual events – the saviour of 2020, which is set to reach even bigger heights in a post-COVID world.
Still, you try telling that to the 40% of organisers who claim to have been unsuccessful in running online-only experiences this year. Our transition to virtual has been fraught with challenges, none bigger than the speed at which we’ve turned to rely on the format to drive our output.
The good news is that we’re months down that very road and have seen more than enough examples to differentiate between right and wrong. We don’t need to employ a ‘digital engagement manager’ (or whatever they’re now going by) to tell us that yes, it might help to have a strong connection when streaming content and no, you shouldn’t turn up to your keynote in a hoodie.
Reflecting on some of this year’s activity on our virtual event platform, EventsCase can definitely report commonality in the issues that organisers tend to encounter. A quick resolution is never far away, but for annual events that have to nail it first time, there is much to be said about identifying the obstacles before tripping over them.
Starting with the ‘dos’, we’re confident in outlining five things you should definitely look out for.
Do… send same-day reminder emails. Many organisers will attempt to drum up publicity for their event in the weeks leading up to it, only to forget to send an alert on the day it arrives. Virtual events require little-to-no commitment; people really can decide to attend with a few hours to spare, so you should always issue a last-minute reminder.
Do… go live where possible. Pre-recorded content is much safer and more convenient than broadcasting live, but it does rule out the chance to build engagement through Q&As, polls and discussions on social media. Anything over a day should aim for a 50:50 split to get the best of both worlds.
Do… establish key performance indicators. We know how to determine success and failure with our physical events, and the same should happen for virtual. Registrations, session views, downloads, social metrics, questions and poll responses are good starting points. The idea is to create a benchmark on which to measure future events.
Do… base your experience on a single platform. Having your attendees create separate accounts for all the tools that make your event could result in a big drop-off in attendance. It’s a point that amplifies the value of integrated video conferencing, as this is one area that tends to require an extra sign-up. Go single log-in for peace of mind.
Don’t… ignore time differences. If you’re running a global event with networking features, remember to factor in time zones when allowing people to send and receive video calling requests. Your technology should be able to lock everything to someone’s local code.
Don’t… forget to moderate. Q&As and comment boxes are your best bets for driving engagement during sessions. Be sure to moderate the content being shared, though, or you could leave yourself open to sabotage.
Don’t… restrict your buzz to a few days. By repurposing your best content via podcasts, YouTube uploads or making it available on-demand, you will give it a bigger audience. Always look to prolong your impact where possible.
Don’t… use a lengthy registration form. Virtual events require less commitment – you don’t even have to get out of bed to enjoy them. Therefore, their audiences shouldn’t have to go through 50 questions in the sign-up phase. Quick, simple and assistive would be how we’d describe what to aim for.
Don’t make a false start with virtual. Do yourself a favour and head to EventsCase’s talks at Event Tech Live between Nov 2-6:
Session one: Tech Deployment for Virtual and Hybrid Events (Nov 5, 16:00 – 16:30) by EventsCase UK MD, Kevin Lorch
Session two: Engagement and Revenue in Post-Coronavirus Events (Nov 6, 14:30 – 15:00) by EventsCase Co-Founder and CEO, Jose Bort