7 Virtual Event Best Practices Every Company Needs to Know
One of the things that I appreciate most about working in the virtual events industry is the level of customization that the technology provides. From profiling and listening tools, to game dynamics and user-generated content, virtual events provide more flexibility than event managers could have dreamed of just a decade ago. Unfortunately, customization is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, virtual events provide a plethora of ways to drive engagement with attendees. On the other hand, with so many options, it is often difficult to know where to start. For those of you who are new to virtual events, I hope that you will find these useful as you plan your next online experience. For all you virtual event veterans out there, I hope that you will share your own best practices at the end of this post.
7 virtual event best practices to turn your next virtual event from “so what?” to “all that”
Use your event as a listening platform to learn more about your customers
When you ask most companies what they want to accomplish from their next virtual event, they will usually give you a long list of sales-related KPIs. In reality, virtual events can do much more than act as a lead-generation platform. By using their virtual events as a listening platform, companies can build long-term customer relationships that generate value over the long-term.
Use social media before, during and after your event
Over the last several years, social media has become an increasingly important part of the marketing mix. Unfortunately, from a virtual events perspective, social media integration is often limited to social bookmarking (linking to communities from within the event). In order to optimize the opportunity that platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide, event managers should leverage social media before, during and after each event.
Create a look and feel for your event that gets people talking
Given their early experiences with online events, many companies assume that all virtual events look the same. In reality, most virtual event platform providers provide a great deal of flexibility in terms of visual customization. The secret is to start planning for your next event early enough to build an experience that makes your customers sit back and say “wow”.
Build in game dynamics to drive attendee behavior
Unlike with in-person events, where attendees often have to travel thousands of miles, getting people to show up at your virtual event is often the easy part. Getting them to engage once they log-in is an entirely different matter. Fortunately, game dynamics provide a reliable way to drive engagement by rewarding customer for the behaviors that you care about most.
Use profiling to customize your event and provide feedback
At most in-person events, profiling is limited to collecting registration information. In contrast, unlike their physical counterparts, virtual events provide a range of implicit, explicit and emotional profiling options. This information can be used to create a highly customized experience that is tailored to the individual needs of your attendees. Profiling data should also form the basis for any improvements that you make to future events.
Leverage user-generated content to increase attendee engagement
In the past, events were characterized by a 1:many communication paradigm. In this model, the role of the attendee was to consume, and the role of the presenter was to present. From a virtual event perspective, nothing could be worse than a silent audience. As a result, many of the best virtual events leverage user-generated content to drive attendee engagement.
Engage influencers through social media and at your event
Numerous studies have shown that consumers and business professionals rely heavily on influencers when it comes to making purchase decisions. As a result, companies should develop a strategy to identify the most important influencers in their industry and give them front-row access at their next virtual event.
Customization is a double-edged sword…which side are you holding?
Virtual events provide a powerful set of tools for companies to create online experiences that delight their customers. Unfortunately, with so many customization options available, it is often difficult to know where to begin. Fortunately, there are a number of best practices that companies can follow as they plan their next virtual event. For starters, companies should consider using listening tools and profiling to develop a better understanding of their customers. In addition, tools like game dynamics and user-generated content can help to drive attendee engagement. Finally, leveraging social media and building an influencer engagement plan can help to activate your community. In combination, these best practices can help to turn an “average” virtual event into an experience that gets people talking.
Join the conversation. Agree with me? Good. Disagree? Even Better! Tell me why…
What other best practices would you recommend to event organizers to help them improve their online experiences?
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