As more organizations postpone or cancel events to contain the spread of the coronavirus, officially called Covid-19, many companies,non-profits, heck even small business owners are moving their events they had planned entirely online. On March 15, the CDC recommended cancelling or postponing events of more than 50 people for the next two months. The White House has urged people to avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. The good news is you can still hold events by bringing them online.
Virtual may be more affordable and simpler. They lack the hassles caused by travel, hotels and dining. However, virtual events present their own set of challenges. Don’t expect that throwing together a few webinars or posting a couple of Power Point Slide charts online will produce success. It will more than likely will bore your followers and you will lose them quickly. So what and how can you achieve any kind of success? Here are a few tips I found and we typically use as best practices with our own customers and clients when they call upon us for digital help.
Test the platforms. In addition to webinar platforms, social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, offer video and live streaming services. They offer many of the same basic features. Selection is a matter of personal preference. Most services offer a free trial allowing you perform dry runs before the event. This allows you to familiarize yourself with their basic functionality and test their services, such as the timeliness and helpfulness of live technical support. Most smaller companies simply go on Facebook or Instagram and do a simple smart phone shoot which can work if you do it right.
Keep Sessions Short.. Holding the audience attention is far more difficult at online events, Many – maybe most – people multi-task during online meetings. A 60-minute keynote or breakout session, standard fare at face-to-face events, won’t work for a virtual event. Shorten time slots by 15 or 30 minutes. Try a “webinine,” a webinar that lasts just nine minutes. This best practice is for larger more marketing oriented companies.
Do A Dry-Run. A dry run can spot faulty equipment links and other issues. Even veteran presenters may not understand the nuances of various online event software platforms. Be sure to test the audio. Visitors will leave if they can’t hear, he warns. Do presenter run-troughs in the same room and with the same computer that will be used for the event. Consider sending USB headset microphones to presenters. Seriously, this helps them so much and keeps them on track and their voice balanced as many times you will have a few second delay on live streaming. It is shocking how often presenters at online events just figure they can talk into their laptop, with no regard for room acoustics, background noise, dogs barking, people walking around in a room or if you are outside, it can even be worse. Consider your surroundings. We have also found sadly that many presenters who are animated at in-person events are flat in their online delivery. Record the run-through and let them see themselves as the viewers see them. Urge them to punch up their delivery. Often this can be achieved by simply having them stand for their delivery as they would in an in-person meeting, instead of sitting at their computer.
Publicize the event. Publicize the online event through blogging, social media posts, email blasts and earned media mentions. Encourage social media followers to share news of the event with a branded hashtag. If your budget allows, paid advertising is an option. Make sure session titles and descriptions for your virtual conference programming are fully descriptive and compelling. Tell the target audience what they will learn and how they will benefit from the virtual conference.
Stand out with a specific topic. Narrow the focus to a niche topic such as strength training for women. If you are doing an event for health, Make sure you stick to a single niche topic. A virtual event for everyone is really for nobody.”
Exciting Offers. "Create irresistible offers to attract attendees."
Some ideas could include or be: :
Audio files of sessions,
Transcripts of sessions,
PDF action guides.
Special offers from sponsors or partners.
Now don't do the above just to do it. It will backfire on you. Do something special. Even a gift card give-a-way is fun.
Make it social. Virtual events may lack the networking and social benefits of face-to-face events. But organizers can still replicate at least some social aspects with abundant use of webinar platform’s chat and Q&A features. To spark exchanges, ask relevant, provocative questions when sessions begin and while they continue. After sessions conclude, participants can continue interactions in private Facebook or LinkedIn groups.
Monitor internet chatter. Social Media platform listening can reveal what attendees talk about during and after the event. Their comments can provide ideas for new online sessions and other ideas on how to improve your virtual event.
Consider experienced help. OK our selfless plug. If you are considering doing something on line during these difficult times, feel free to reach out to us. We can help your business or organization.
In Conclusion: Virtual conferences and other online events offer an option for organizations postponing or canceling in-person gatherings to stem the spread of Covid-19. But organizing virtual events presents unique challenges. Thorough technical, speaker and content preparation along with strong publicity will make most virtual meetings successful.
Tags: #socialmedia, #virtualmeetings, #video, #marketing, #coronavirus, #covid19