On March 14, 2012, in Social27, Virtual Event
Save or Splurge?
Best Practices, Virtual Event Trends, virtual events, by Ike Singh
“If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.” – Benjamin Franklin
If your company is hosting a virtual event for the first time, it can be a bit intimidating. Virtual event platforms offer amazing capabilities and almost endless choices, but it can be hard to know where to begin. How can you decide where to allocate your budget to get the best return on your investment? Which “bells and whistles” can you leave out, and where should you focus your attention for the biggest impact?
As with any investment or marketing initiative for your business, when planning virtual events it’s important to find the right features to “save and splurge” on. Here are a few ideas for how to choose the right “must-have” features for your next virtual event.
- First, clarify your goals: Every virtual event needs to help you achieve specific goals. Just as if you were hosting a major in-person gathering of customers, sales people or industry partners and vendors, you need to devote some planning to decide the major objectives and key takeaways that you want your attendees to gain from the event. Are you trying to launch a new product, solidify existing sales relationships, position your company as a though leader in the industry, or recruit top talent? Does this event need to be a “big splash” showcase for your company’s highest ambitions, or will it be focused on a smaller internal audience that doesn’t require you to pull out all the stops?
- Splurge on live video: Virtual events deliver impressive features and functionality to help people access content and obtain information online – but people still respond to emotionally-impactful presentations and the feeling of “you are there.” To create this necessary emotional impact, be sure to splurge of plenty of live video (or pre-recorded video that your attendees can watch at a time of their choosing).
- Splurge on tracking: As part of your goal-setting process for the virtual event, spend some time creating metrics to measure the results of the event. Do you want to change the attendees’ perception of your company? Do you want them to remember a certain product name? Do you want to drive home a key sales message or selling point? Find out what you most want your attendees to remember, and then ask them whether they remember it. Virtual event platforms like Social27 give you powerful tools to track the attention, engagement and information retention of your audience at every stage of the virtual event. You can find out which presentations are most popular, which of your sponsors and partners get the most traffic, and which messages resonate most strongly with your attendees on an emotional level.
- Splurge on interaction. The best virtual events keep attendees engaged, interested and on their toes for the entire duration of the event. Don’t fall into the trap of making your virtual event just a dry recitation of content. Remember to make it a dialogue, not a monologue. Create opportunities for interaction, game dynamics, instant polling, feedback and audience participation.Your audience shouldn’t have to sit silently on the other end of an Internet connection; instead, you should encourage them to get up and move around and meet other people at the event. Any features available through the virtual events platform that make the virtual event less like a “presentation” and more like a “friendly neighborhood bar” should be at the top of your list to invest in. Splurge on delivering a deeper, richer, more fun and memorable experience for your attendees, and they’ll be more likely to reward your investment.
- Splurge on marketing. Many first-time virtual event planners are surprised by how much different (and more time-consuming) it can be to market a virtual event. Even more so than with a traditional in-person event, virtual event marketing requires you to allow plenty of lead time, send multiple communications and ongoing reminders, engage partners and make every effort to attract your audience, get them to register, and get them to attend the event. Fortunately, you’re not on your own. Virtual event platform providers can also provide end-to-end support in virtual event marketing, and this kind of help can often be just as important (or more important) than the technical work to design and develop the virtual event itself.
- Save on unnecessary features. Every virtual event is its own unique creation, so it’s hard to say which features are always going to be “unnecessary” or not worth spending on. Some companies need a fuller range of visual effects and interactive features, and are prepared to invest accordingly. Other companies have a more focused audience or more modest goals and can get by with a less expansive virtual event design. Keep in mind that when you plan your virtual event, you need to work closely with your virtual event platform provider to discuss what you want to achieve with every step of the event. Features that might seem frivolous to you might be essential for a larger-scale or bigger-budget event. Just keep communicating and clarify your expectations in each conversation with your virtual events platform provider, and they can help you align your event’s features and functionality with your goals.
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