“If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing.”- W. Edwards Deming

Since founding Social27, I have had the opportunity to engage with hundreds of customers on events ranging from small internal meetings, to large B2B conferences with thousands of attendees. During this time, I have come to the conclusion that the most important step in the process of planning a virtual event comes in the initial briefing stage when customers share their needs and we start to build a joint vision for what we need to accomplish. At this point in the process, the questions that are asked can mean the difference between an event that pops and an event that flops. Looking beyond the basics (cost, platform stability, security), following are seven questions that every company should ask a potential virtual event platform provider before launching their next event.

7 questions you should ask before your next virtual event

  1. How can I extend my event through social media? – While most virtual event providers include at least a basic level of social media integration, make sure that you select a partner who can help you to build a strategic plan. Specifically, I would ask any prospective platform provider what they can do to help you optimize your social media strategy before, during, and after the event. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to manage each of these activities directly. However, I would be looking for a partner who understands the issues and opportunities surrounding the event, not just how to integrate social media on the day of the event.
  1. How is your platform optimized from an SEO perspective? – From an SEO perspective, not all virtual event platforms are created equal. At a minimum, you should aim to find out what on-page and off-page SEO strategies your potential partner utilizes. This is especially important if your partner uses Adobe Flash, which has a reputation for being somewhat SEO unfriendly without significant customization. In addition to covering the basics, I would also ask if your partner uses game dynamics and social media integration in order to give their SEO a boost.
  1. What is your social CRM and profiling strategy? – At an in-person event, profiling is often limited to pre and post-event surveys. While formal surveys form the backbone of most lead-generation processes, they are only the beginning of what any good virtual event platform provider should provide. If you want to build better relationships with your customers, identify influentials and optimize your lead-generation process, look for a virtual event provider that provides a comprehensive social CRM and profiling strategy. Specifically, ask your potential partner how they can help you to develop an event that leverages the latest in
  1. How should I leverage user-generated content? – By default, virtual events should be highly social activities that provide numerous ways to attendees to join the conversation. On a basic level, attendees should be able to interact by uploading their own audio, video or text content. Beyond this, I would ask whether your potential partner can develop a set of game dynamics to help incentivize users to join the conversation. Check out my previous article for more information regarding how to leverage user-generated content at your next event.
  1. How can I customize my event’s design to make it more exciting for attendees? – In my experience, many customers believe that virtual events are fairly static experiences that “all look pretty much the same”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because virtual events are virtual, a good platform provider should be able to provide plenty of options in terms of customizability. If you want to create a “wow” effect at your next virtual event, make sure that your platform partner understands your desire to create a truly unique experience. A good virtual event platform partner should be able to provide design resources to help you turn your vision into reality and create an experience that your customers won’t forget.
  1. What listening tools does your platform provide? – When you ask many companies what they want to accomplish at their next virtual event, they usually give you a long list of sales-related KPIs. While lead generation is important, a good virtual event solution should be able to provide listening tools that help you to build long-term relationships and not just short-term sales. Any potential partner should be able to answer how they can help you to use surveys, social media, interactive polls, Q&A sessions, user generated content and emotional profiling in order to help you understand your customers better.
  1. How can I use game dynamics to drive attendee behavior? – With sufficient planning, game dynamics can be a powerful tool for driving attendee engagement at your next virtual event. Ask your potential partner how you can use game dynamics to reward customer engagement, identify influentials and encourage cooperation between attendees. The best platforms leverage a combination of time-based rewards, recognition and social reinforcement to keep attendees engaged and entertained.

“A prudent question is one-half of wisdom” – Francis Bacon

Choosing a platform provider is one of the most important decisions that you can make in planning for your next virtual event. In addition to looking at traditional evaluation criteria (cost, stability, security), it is critical that you get an understanding of the social media, profiling, social CRM and game dynamics capabilities of any potential partner. The best platform providers will welcome your questions as an opportunity to build an event that wows your attendees and meets your business objectives. In life and in business, information is power and questions are the path to information.

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