Event planners weren’t the only ones to suffer from the restrictions brought by the pandemic. Large corporations and startups alike are bearing the brunt of COVID-19's impact on their business events. Canceling a conference could mean losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars, but even calling off smaller gatherings might make a big dent in a company’s bottom line.
Whether you’re still trying to figure out next steps, or you’ve already switched to online events, you’ll need all the help you can get to compete with everyone else in the market for the duration of the pandemic and beyond.
Hosting a virtual event might involve less physical leg work, but they require more creativity and preparation to make up for a lack of human connection. Learn three ways to master virtual events in 2021.
1.) Create An Authentic Human Connection
Research published in The Virtual Event Tech Guide found that 31% of event planners say engagement was one of their biggest challenges when transitioning to virtual gatherings.
When deprived of that personal, face-to-face connection, participants lose interest quickly and are less likely to take further action after the event has ended. Luckily, there are a handful of ways to give guests a memorable online experience that makes them feel connected to one another and to your brand:
- Help attendees mingle before the event - Just like in-person events, allow guests to connect during a pre-program gathering via Zoom.
- Foster engagement with group activities - Make everyone feel more at ease with fun social activities or group Q&As.
- Select an experienced MC - A skilled host can keep a virtual crowd interested and entertained for hours.
There are also plenty of tools available for raising engagement levels during online events. The OnlineEvent platform, for example, has an artificial intelligence feature that matches attendees with common interests. Experiment with different solutions and find one that best meets your needs.
2.) Switch Up The Format
The fastest way to stand out in a sea of virtual events is by straying from the beaten bath of "standard formats." You could incorporate “sampler” events. This can be achieved through SpotMe, a powerful virtual event platform used by over 2 million users and 80 Fortune 500 brands like L’Oréal, SAP and Pfizer.
Rather than creating a one-day event, SpotMe allows business owners to deliver smaller “sampler” gatherings that generate build-up before the big event. Their On-Demand Activation feature lets users curate an on-demand library of content including live streams, recorded video, audio recordings and written materials.
If you don’t want to invest in a new solution, there are additional ways to vary up your online event format:
- Turn your presentations into animated videos (if your audience profile allows it) - While the format is more laid back, the content still needs to be well-researched and impactful.
- Incorporate digital live scribing - Have artists who can create real-time illustrations of the main takeaways and encourage participants to share the art on social media.
- Turn guests into speakers - Many attendees are already experts in your fields, so allow them to submit a request for organizing a short panel discussion.
Learn about your audience as much as possible before adopting a certain format. Letting attendees speak at an event featuring high-profile industry leaders would be a poor choice, but it could work if you’re a startup dipping your toes into the virtual event space.
3.) Offer Virtual swag
Before COVID 19, participating in conferences, trade shows and exhibitions meant coming home with small gifts like pens, notebooks, tech accessories, chargers and an assortment of other items. The expectation to receive a fun gift by participating is so ingrained into the collective consciousness, that swag is also becoming a vital part of the virtual event experience.
Here are some swag ideas that will help you make a memorable impression among attendees:
- Send participants a gift box upon registration - You can include branded t-shirts or hats for them to wear during the event. Red Company, a full-service event and promotional items brand, offers “couch conference” kits with mini diffusers, stainless steel thermoses, blue-light blocking glasses, fun snacks and more.
- Deliver personalized video shoutouts - Put a unique spin on “thank you” notes with platforms like Cameo, which lets you purchase personalized video messages from celebrities and send them to others.
- Offer food-delivery vouchers - This is one of the most thoughtful things you can give participants who miss nibbling on hors d'oeuvre at events or just the freedom to enjoy a meal out.
Americaneagle.com Can Help
While the physical world is being put on hold, virtual events will continue to remove geographical boundaries and bring people together in new, innovative ways. At Americaneagle.com, we help companies like yours build an impressive online presence that drives attendance to your virtual events and keeps prospects coming back for more. Take a look at our robust Digital Marketing services and contact us today!