95.5% of event professionals that took part in vFairs “Outlook for 2022 Events & Beyond” report said that at least some form of a virtual event will be a part of their events strategy. Virtual events are here to stay, however, things might have changed a little post-pandemic.
Ever-changing event trends can be a little hard to wrap your head around. Therefore, in this blog, we cover all the latest tips and tricks for hosting a virtual event that will truly be an epic success for you. Find out all there is to know about the best ways to plan and execute them.
8 Best Practices for Hosting a Virtual Event
The question remains, “How can companies produce a high-quality digital experience with one-to-one interaction and continuous engagement?”
To answer this, let’s walk you through a list of tips and to-dos for hosting a successful virtual event.
1. Choose Your Event Goals
Before you begin, you must have a clear picture of the goals you aim to achieve through a certain event. Whether it’s a virtual conference, virtual career fair, virtual trade show, or any other event, you ought to first define clear objectives to help your team organize and configure their respective event.
Event Goals for Organizers
It is important to understand what your event goals are before you even begin the planning process. If you don’t know what you want to achieve out of the event, your efforts may not be as fruitful. If you are stuck, you can start with these broader goals and narrow them down based on the specifics of your event:
- Create more brand awareness
- Touch base with your current, old, and prospective clients
- Talk about a public cause that your organization is passionate about
- Share information, ideas, or new research
- Launch a new product
- Hire new resources
- Sell a product or service
- Host an internal company event for employee interactions, onboarding, team building, etc.
All these different event goals mean you need an altogether different set of features to achieve them. Virtual event hosting companies like vFairs have a varying set of features and modular solutions that match all your event goals.
Event Goals for Participants
Event goals are not limited to you as an organizer. You also need to consider what you want participants to achieve at your virtual event. Attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors are all in it for entirely different reasons.
Let’s take the example of a virtual job fair. Attendees might be looking for information, job opportunities, or networking opportunities with recruiters. Whereas, the exhibitors at the event want to get in touch with as many job seekers as possible and present their companies as leading recruiters. Moreover, sponsors at a virtual event are looking for more visibility through the virtual environment and audiences.
By understanding each participant’s journey through your virtual event more clearly, you can plan and host a much more successful virtual event. Focusing on each of their goals can help you arrange all the necessary tools and add relevant features. vFairs can help you set up a virtual event platform that fosters all these event goals and offer tailor-made solution types for you.
2. Choose the Right Virtual Event Platform
When choosing a virtual events provider, ensure that they support your necessary requirements to deliver your brand’s goals and vision. Prepare a set of questions, no matter how many, and inquire till you’re sold on the service.
A few standard details you can ask your potential virtual events provider include
- The type of sessions you’re looking for
- The learning curve required for adapting to the event tech
- Reporting metrics that will be available during/at the end of the event
- Design options for the virtual environment, booths, and landing pages
- The engagement and networking tools
- Any third-party plugins or other affiliations
- The extent of customer support in your time zone
- What accessibility features are available
If you’ve narrowed down your search to a few virtual event platforms, you can dig deeper into third-party review sites like G2 and Capterra to find out what their customers are saying about them.
3. Promote Your Event Like a Pro
You’ve created an event tailored to your attendees’ needs and goals, yet you aren’t getting any registrations. This problem can be easily remedied with powerful event marketing. The more effort you put into marketing your event, the more registrations, sponsors, and exhibitors you get, and the more revenue you can generate. It’s a no-brainer, right? However, many event organizers don’t know what they can do to promote their virtual event and get to the right audience.
Use AI for Event Promotion
Event marketing and promotions can take a considerable amount of your time – but they don’t have to. ChaptGPT and other AI-powered marketing tools can help event marketers significantly reduce the effort required to create marketing collateral. In turn, it also reduces the time to market for your virtual events.
Landing pages, social media posts, press releases, and email campaigns can all be designed quickly and effectively using AI. You don’t need to spend hours fine-tuning your social media posts and graphics when AI can help. vFairs AI-powered tools use the mighty forces of ChatGPT and help you generate ready-to-send content in a few clicks. You can even use it to brainstorm marketing ideas and create tailored content variations.
Spread the Word on Social Media
You’ve been building that social media audience for a reason, haven’t you? It’s time to make use of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and any other platforms that you see your potential audience engaging with, to market your event and increase registrations.
Social media posts can be one of the most powerful tools to spread more awareness about your event and increase registrations. Using social media to attract the right audience can make a lot of difference as your message reaches the people it was intended for. So, make sure you only focus on the platforms that your audience interacts with the most. Find the best tips for using social media and reach your ideal audience without wasting your time and effort.
Leverage Event Listing Platforms
The more eyes you can get on your virtual event, the better. Event listing platforms are therefore another great way for attendees to discover your event. They also ensure that your event details are reaching the correct audiences. Attendees usually search through event listing platforms, like vFairs Discover, to find the type of events they are most keen to attend.
4. Choose Innovative Networking Features
Attendees and exhibitors won’t attend a virtual event if it means they lose out on engagement and networking opportunities with each other. Therefore, the success of any virtual event is majorly dependent on its engagement rates. There are a bunch of different novel chat & networking features that you can add to your virtual event to make it a more immersive and valuable experience. Let’s talk about each of them in detail and how they can help.
1:1 & Group Chat Tools
When an attendee or exhibitor finds someone interesting at an event, they prefer sending them a message to connect. If things go well, they might book a meeting with them or hop on a video call. You can use live chat tools for one-to-one as well as group discussions to ensure that visitors can smoothly interact with exhibitors in real time.
Chat widgets, like that of vFairs, can also allow users to quickly find each other by searching through names or email IDs. They can also book meetings with each other with a few clicks. You can also boost communication in chat by creating chat rooms based on popular topics of discussion at the virtual event.
When hosting a virtual event, attendees expect you to create opportunities and chances for them to spark a natural conversation. Innovative features like vFairs Spatial Connect can help you with that. It boosts natural and easy-flowing connections by making attendees feel like they’re communicating in a natural and in-person setting.
You can offer attendees a space to interact freely in a flexible and interactive virtual environment. For example, you can choose a park, a coffee place, or a custom design for your Spatial Connect setting. Attendees can enter these rooms, walk up to others, and then strike up a conversation. If they virtually move away from users, they won’t be able to talk to them or hear them. So, the only way to be a part of an ongoing conversation is to move closer – just like in a physical networking lounge!
Another interactive way to allow like-minded attendees to connect in smaller groups of two to twenty is adding a roundtable networking function. Whether you’re hosting a virtual hiring event or a conference, roundtables can facilitate attendee networking based on similar areas of interest. Each roundtable can be set around a specific topic and attendees can join in the conversation if they’re interested.
You can use smart video matchmaking as well to connect audiences to their perfect match at the virtual event. Attendees will answer similar questions and then get matched to the user that matched their answers. It is an easy way to connect with like-minded individuals and reduce the awkwardness created because of virtual settings.
Matchmaking modules can also include ice-breaking questions to help kickstart the conversation. Moreover, it has a timed environment so that attendees don’t feel obligated to continue the conversation if it isn’t working out for them. They can also choose to increase the time if the conversation is going well.
5. Host Live Webinars & Keynotes
Live webinars are one of the most effective (and popular) tools used to address the masses. You can invite keynote speakers from absolutely any part of the world, which you normally wouldn’t be able to do without having to bear the extra cost of travel and accommodation. You can book their slots according to their respective availability. End your session with a brief Q&A session to allow for two-way communication as well as to gather feedback from the audience.
A quick tip: To maximize attendance at your webinar, provide the audience with a schedule way before the event, and send email reminders a few hours before the webinar.
6. Upload Evergreen Content
The best part about any virtual event is that you can make content available to attendees even after the event is over. Moreover, it is easy for attendees to save any document or presentation for later through a virtual briefcase option. You can also add functions like bookmarks so that attendees can save any booths, products, or jobs that catch their eye.
Online event platforms like vFairs can allow you to extend the domain hosting annually so that your virtual event can stay live forever. Content plays an essential role, regardless of the type of event that is being hosted. Whether it is in the form of documents, presentations, or videos, your content will be the voice of your brand when hosting a virtual event so make sure you facilitate attendees who want to make the most of it.
7. Gamify Your Event
Boring and monotonous virtual events are a thing of the past. If you don’t want to lose audience engagement, you will have to think out of the box. Grab audience attention till the end by gamifying your event through fun games and activities like scavenger hunts, leaderboards, trivia, and photobooths.
Gamification not only increases the time your audience spends at your event but also helps set a lasting impression of your organization, eventually improving the quality of leads. You can also use these features to incentivize certain steps you wish for your audience to complete e.g. adding leaderboard points for attending a webinar, etc.
8. Debrief Using Post-Event Analytics & Surveys
One of the key features that level up a virtual event in comparison to a physical one is its reporting capabilities. Make sure you capture registrations that can be added to your CRM or mailing lists for lead-generation purposes. In addition, engagement and content insights can help you measure your event’s ROI and optimize your KPIs.
You can also get insights into your audience preferences by following complete user journeys. Focus on the most popular or least popular areas of your event through the live stats dashboard. You can then use these insights to plan an even better audience experience at your next virtual event.
Make sure to add as many feedback questions and polls as you can to your event platform. You can take polls before, during, and after webinars as well. Create an event survey and ask people what they liked most or least about the event. You can also add a small feedback survey next to any uploaded content like on-demand videos or presentations.
While the idea of hosting a virtual event might be overwhelming to many businesses, a majority of organizers have been able to come out stronger by hosting successful virtual events. With fixed objectives in mind and a keen focus on creating better user experiences, you can achieve exceptional results.
Event organizers need to make sure that they choose a platform for hosting a virtual event that fosters their event goals and brings value. vFairs can tailor a solution for you based on your expectations and what you want to achieve from your event. Hear from our happy customers and learn more about their successful virtual events or learn more about virtual events through our ultimate guide.