Virtual Event Best Practices and Ideas for Business Growth in 2021
Photo above by Chris Montgomery.
Business growth will be strongly tied to virtual events in 2021, a direct result of the pandemic and the rise of remote work. While online events are hardly new, they have become an integral part of growth strategies to keep audiences engaged while adhering to health restrictions. There are now new ways to create virtual events—from TikTok to YouTube live streams, the possibilities are endless.
Major events such as the San Diego Comic Con successfully transitioned online in 2020, featuring more diverse speakers and reaching new audiences. But to make a virtual event that delivers views and boosts conversions, companies will need to follow a few best practices. We will also be sharing some virtual event ideas.
Virtual Event Best Practices
To conduct successful virtual events, here are five best practices to keep in mind.
Plan Your Virtual Event
A virtual event cannot be rushed—it needs to be thought out. For companies holding online conferences, it is worth creating a project plan, like this example below.
Plans help to visualize the process of organizing an event, but they also keep everyone on the same page. Events—both virtual and in-person—have a lot of moving parts and several departments are involved. To ensure that deadlines are reached, changes are logged, and no conflicts appear, creating a virtual event plan is essential.
Virtual Event Equipment
Holding a successful virtual event requires some equipment—cameras and microphones are a must, for example. While most laptops provide these tools, the quality may not be a high enough standard—it is recommended that all event companies test equipment first before going live.
You also need to create an event website where prospective attendees can get information about the conference, register online, and sign up for updates about the event. Also, set up feedback surveys for attendees to share their thoughts on the event—this will help companies improve for the next conference.
Promote Your Virtual Event
The hard work of setting up a virtual event can so easily be undone if the event isn’t promoted. Pick the channels you want to promote your event on—social media, email blasts, promoted posts, or paid advertising.
Highlight your speakers, top takeaways for attendees, accessibility, and what makes your event stand out among other similar conferences. Make sure your USP is front and center in your promotional materials—don’t make attendees look for it.
You can use social scheduling software to post at strategic times when your audience will be receptive to booking tickets.
Virtual Event Ephemeral Content
Ephemeral content is being used across industries and is a great tool to promote virtual events. Companies can go live on Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, LinkedIn Live, TikTok, and Snapchat to create short and attractive content.
This content is only accessible for 24 hours, but it gives followers a reason to engage with your account and get excited about your event. You can create filters, stickers, effects, and polls that audiences can use during the event to further boost engagement.
Virtual Event Metrics
If you don’t have an aim for your event, you won’t be able to understand whether it was a success or not.
You need to set virtual event metrics that are achievable, such as the following:
- Generating more leads
- Increasing conversion rates
- Social engagement
- Tickets sold or number of registrations
- Attendance and bounce rates
Set your goals in advance so you know what areas to focus on for your virtual event.
Virtual Event Ideas
Now that you know what you need to set up your virtual event, here are some ideas for 2021.
Hold Virtual Courses or Webinars
With so many people at home, virtual courses and webinars have become a popular way for people to educate themselves and keep busy.
If your company has a particular area of expertise, you should look into creating a virtual course or webinar around it. Tap into the skills of your existing team members or look into popular themes in your industry to choose a topic, like in the example below.
Virtual Interview Events
A company’s greatest resources are its team members—why not showcase them through interviews?
We’ve mentioned going live on social media, and interviews make for great content for these channels. They also position your organization as a thought leader in the field.
Companies can look at experts in the industry to feature on their platforms—this showcases how your organization curates content to educate audiences.
Create Behind-the-Scenes Virtual Events
Going behind the scenes is a great way to create content without having to put in too much effort. Museums, parks, and galleries have been taking visitors online through virtual tours during the pandemic—something that organizations in other industries can learn from.
Audiences like to know how a product is created or service is delivered—giving a tour of the inner workings of your company humanizes your organization. Office tours are a great way to boost YouTube views, like in the example below, and you can make a fun event out of the experience.
Virtual Event Live Streams
Live streams on YouTube, Facebook, or Zoom allow audiences to tune into an event that they may not have been able to attend otherwise. This helps companies reach global audiences who may not have been able to travel to your event, as in this example from NASA.
But the best thing about live streams is that you don’t need an additional platform to host your event—you can use the facilities available on the external platform. And the live video can be shared with audiences even after the end of the event so you can keep getting views.
You can also use a video editor to create shorter versions of the live stream to upload on other channels.
Turn Conferences into Virtual Events
Conferences are usually held in person, but they have been going virtual in 2020 to great effect. A conference is a much larger virtual event and requires more planning, but it is worth the effort for the number of attendees you will reach.
You can use a timeline maker to schedule the various seminars and to visually showcase how much the conference will encompass for your audience.
Key Takeaways: Make Your Virtual Events Engaging to Grow Your Business
Creating a virtual event can take time and planning, but by following the above best practices and using the ideas we have shared here, you can draw attendees and grow your business.
Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic maker and design platform. Ronita regularly writes about the digital world, sales strategies, and small businesses.