Tips & Ideas for Hosting A Successful Virtual Event
There has been a dramatic spike in virtual events since the start of the pandemic. Thinking about hosting your own? Learn the basics, ideas of different types of virtual events, and tips on how to make your first virtual event a success!
First things first, what is a virtual event?
A virtual event is a type of organized gathering, but online rather than in-person. The purpose of virtual events can be anything from a simple team meeting, to a large-scale digital concert.
What are some examples of virtual events?
Tutorials & Classes
Could your audience benefit from learning quick tips from your company? The answer should be yes! Find different topics or lessons your target market may be looking to learn in their spare time at home, and record how-to videos! Or, record your lessons live so you can answer questions from your viewers as you teach your lesson.
People love to see behind-the-scenes tours, especially if your company offers entertainment value. Theaters, airports, museums, zoos, galleries, or even outdoor spaces like national parks can truly benefit from recording behind-the-scenes tours. It will give your audience a virtual escape from reality!
One of ocreations clients, the National Aviary, has been sharing behind-the-scenes videos of their exhibits while they are not open to the public. These videos have been getting great engagement on social media!
Host an event where you interview an industry expert on their journey to how they’ve become successful, and open up the “floor” to viewers to ask questions at the end of the interview.
Many popular artists are performing live or pre-recorded renditions of their music to share with the world during this global pandemic. There are also many benefit concerts popping up.
For example, in Pittsburgh on April 18, there was a concert, “Pittsburgh Service Staff Aid Benefit Concert” that was a twelve-hour Facebook Live concert, including live performances from more than 60 local artists. Proceeds went to United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and raised over $23,000. Ocreations helped design the logo and branding for this event!
Large scale conferences have been transitioning to digital platforms as well. Just because major in-person events have been shut down, didn’t stop them from still happening – just virtually!
Casual events like office or client happy hours are even becoming increasingly popular! For instance, one of ocreations clients, Sabika Jewelry, are encouraging their consultants to host online jewelry parties and happy hours!
Corporate events can take place online, too! These are a great chance to network within your own company, learn about company-wide updates, etc.
Many popular design-related events have had to transition to digital platforms as well. These events typically have a wide variety of industry leaders and experts, panel discussions, tutorials, and trends in the design industry. For example, our Art Director Nina attended the Making Midwest conference in 2019, which is going digital for the 2020 year.
This can be anything from a casual happy hour, to an industry-related networking event. Typically, social events are a little less informative, and more interactive and engaging.
What platform(s) can I use to host a virtual event?
There are a variety of platforms you can use to host a virtual event! Depending on your goals and type of event, some platforms may work to your benefit more than others.
Social Media Stories (Pre-Recorded)
Social media stories are an excellent way to share content (videos, interviews, etc.). Most of the platforms listed below have a multitude of features to add some fun to your posts, including filters, special effects, stickers, polls, etc.
Here are some of the best social platforms to post “stories” to:
- Instagram Stories
- Facebook Stories
- Snapchat Stories
If you’d like to host a live event that you are anticipating a large audience, or expect it to last hours, there are some great sources to consider:
- Facebook Live
- YouTube Live
- Instagram Live
- LinkedIn Live
- Twitter Live
For many of these platforms, you can see your real-time audience, and receive questions/comments in real time. Live streaming can truly increase engagement, especially during this time where people are in front of their screens all day and looking for unique entertainment, or something new to learn.
What should I consider when planning my event?
Develop a strategy.
The last thing you want to do is just “wing it.” You could end up hurting your brand by appearing unprepared or uninformed about your event if not carefully prepared for.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself and make sure you have answers to while planning:
- What is the goal?
- Who do you plan to reach?
- Will the event be live, pre-recorded?
- What platform will you use?
- What day and time will the event take place? Or will there be multiple?
- Will access be free, or will there be a fee involved?
- Who will host the event? Will there be multiple hosts?
Promote your event.
Nobody will know about your event unless you promote it to the world! Make sure to start promoting a few weeks before the event (or even further out if this is a much larger event requiring registration), and continuously up until the day of the event. There are numerous ways to promote your event, depending on your budget! Here are just a few ideas:
- Email blasts (countdowns, etc.)
- Social media (as many platforms as your company has profiles on) – organic posts, boosted posts, paid ads
- Digital banner ads (paid retargeting ads)
- Blogs, news posts, and general web content on your website
- Even word of mouth (virtually, of course during the pandemic)! Text your friends, tell them to spread the word!
ocreations can help promote and market your digital event!
- Website Design
- Landing Page Design
- Web Banner Ad Design
- Retargeting Ad Design
- Social Media Ad Design
- Webmail (new & existing emails) Design
- Digital Billboard Design
Be prepared for technical troubles.
The best thing you can do is be prepared!
- Test the platform you plan to use so you can understand the functionality and features.
- Test your connection and audio equipment.
- Run multiple rehearsals, if possible.
- Have backups of files.
- Share FAQs with your audience (for those who might be using the platform for the first time)
Be inclusive and encourage engagement.
Think about it. You are miles, states, or even countries away from your audience. Don’t let the distance stop you from creating an engaging event! Encourage your audience to make comments during your event, ask questions, etc. Create polls or quizzes that your audience can participate in! Encourage live tweeting, Facebook statuses, etc. on social and create a hashtag your audience can use, too! After the event, ask for feedback. After all, this is your first shot at hosting a virtual event – you’ll be able to learn and improve understanding how your audience perceived your event!
So, it definitely takes a lot of planning and strategy to create an event that is memorable and engaging, especially in a digital platform. Yes, it is important to take it seriously and have a good game plan in place, back-up ideas in place, etc. However, it’s most important to keep things fun and craft an event people will talk about, remember, and want to participate in again!
Need design support or marketing ideas for your first (or next) virtual event? Contact us at ocreations. Let’s get virtual, let’s get creative.