No matter the scale or the industry in which your business operates, networking and global brand positioning is always welcome. However, due to the logistical and technical obstacles in bringing B2C and B2B stakeholders into a single venue, virtual conferences have proven themselves to be excellent alternatives.
According to Vimeo, 80% of all internet traffic will be comprised of video content by 2021, with nearly 80% of marketers already recognizing video as an increasingly important medium. In terms of lead generation, video content on LinkedIn managed to earn 30% more engagement than its non-video counterparts, while in Q1 2018, Twitter managed to host 1300 live streaming events, 80% of which were attended by a global audience.
These numbers showcase an organic shift toward virtualized content which you can take advantage of by introducing virtual conferences at the fraction of time and resources required to do so in comparison to traditional events. With that in mind, let’s dive into several practical tips for hosting a successful virtual conference for the benefit of both your speakers and attendees going forward.
Choose a Reliable Platform
The first order of business in terms of hosting a successful virtual conference is to settle on a reliable virtual event platform. While hosting virtual events via Skype or Google Hangouts is possible, there is very little in terms of support or organization tools available to you via these platforms. Familiarize yourself with the platform you will use for the conference prior to its launch so that you can minimize downtime or poor UX once the event goes live.
Prepare for Technical Difficulties
Given the digital, cloud-based nature of virtual conferences, technical difficulties are bound to crop up. Some attendees might have difficulties with their bandwidth while others may experience buffering errors, Firewall blocks and other local problems which will reflect on your conference’s perception.
Make sure to set aside time to create an emergency customer support response team which will monitor your conference as it goes along and provide attendees with servicing, Q&A and a sense of security in terms of your organizational foresight.
Streamlined Conversion & Attendance
While virtual conferences are practical and cost-efficient, you will still have to send invitations and access links to potential attendees prior to the event. That said, you should make it as easy and straightforward to convert into an attendee for your leads.
When it comes to virtual event management and cloud-based collaboration, you have to assume that your attendees are not at all familiar with your platform of choice – thus, clear instructions and client support are a must throughout the process.
Enable Attendee Collaboration
Creating a two-lane collaborative environment via your virtual conference space will often make or break your attendees’ UX. After all, industry experts and business representatives want to learn more about what you do and how you can help them by working through common issues with their peers in a controlled environment.
Use the opportunity to enable your attendees’ collaboration by introducing virtual workshops, discussions, Q&A and other forms of interactivity and your conference will be that much closer to full success.
Facilitate Live Social Updates
Whether due to technical limitations or your own choice to limit the number of attendees for your conference, not everyone will be able to attend the live event. However, posting live updates via social media or your own website will allow everyone to stay in touch with the latest developments in real-time.
In addition, this move will shift relevant traffic toward your website and social media pages, further improving the ROI of your conference due to new-found leads and followers.
Native Sponsorship Placement
Depending on the scale of your virtual conference, you might be tempted to integrate sponsorship ads and promotional materials into your event at scheduled intervals. However, pushing irrelevant content to your niche audience will quickly lead to deteriorated UX and poor public reception for your live event, leading to decreased ROI despite the sponsorships.
The best way to proceed is through native ad placement. Choose to push only relevant content to your follower base and avoid marketing or sponsoring brands that simply don’t mesh with your own.
Gather Post-Event Feedback
Lastly, your attendees, sponsors and casual onlookers will often have words to say about the quality and organization of your virtual conference’s content. Failing to communicate with your attendees and nurture leads post-conference will be seen as one-sided and paint a negative image of your brand as a result of poor communication.
As such, gathering post-event feedback will allow you to learn about what worked and didn’t work at that particular moment, facilitating your ability to improve on the shortcomings down the line.
Drawing a line between the pros and cons of virtual conference hosting will always fall on the former as a result of the event’s flexibility and cost-efficiency. However, a virtualized environment will only help your cause as long as you take the time to add value to the event itself via original content, creative workshops, and relevant discussions.
Work on your event’s agenda, messaging and goals before going forward with a virtual event organization – its outcome and your attendees’ UX will become that much better for it.
About the Author:
Diana Nadim is a writer and editor with a Master’s degree in Marketing. She combines her passion for writing with her interest in research and creates thought-provoking content in various fields. Besides working as a content contributor at Subjecto, Diana also runs her own blog. What inspires her the most in her writing is traveling and meeting new people. Follow her on Twitter.