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Last year, the world went virtual. We witnessed hundreds of brands and communities transition from hosting live events—from virtual conferences and webinars to meetups and even social drinks online due to COVID-19 restrictions. Although restrictions have since eased, it looks like the virtual conference trend is here to stay.
Whether you’re a small business with just one employee (i.e., you!), a handful, or a rapidly growing team, read on as we’ll cover tips on how to host a virtual event, how to promote an event online and some handy business tips, video tips, and creative ideas to bring your online event to life!
First, what is a virtual conference or event?
Surely after the year that has been 2020, you’ll be well versed in what it means to have a virtual meet-up. For the record, a virtual conference or event is a virtual meeting that takes place over the internet using integrated audio and video as well as chat tools and even application sharing (like a computer screen).
Why are virtual conferences so popular?
Though the technology around a virtual conference or webinar isn’t new, the boom in virtual events is! And, while some brands might be temporarily pivoting their event tactics, the benefit of hosting an event virtually is that you can engage with an audience anywhere in the world, and offer interactive online learning experiences. These live events can also be recorded and accessed at a later date, perfect for sharing important information or fun creative ideas across a company or online community. This is easy to do if you have a subscription to a virtual event platform or use a conference management software.
Virtual events examples:
Nick Cave’s global live streaming music concert
Salesforce World Tour Reimagined
5 essential tips on how to host a virtual event
In a sea of virtual events now being promoted across the social sphere, you’re probably wondering, how to promote an event online and how to make it stand out?
1. Ask yourself, what’s your why? And, describe your event accurately!
Ever heard of ‘try before you buy’? Your potential viewers want to know what they’re signing themselves up for. Hubspot program manager Juliana Nicholson says “set the stage to make sure the right people are registering for your event, and then feeling satisfied with the experience they have when they show up."
Knowing why you’re running the event will frame your purpose and message. Give your potential viewer all the info with details such as:
Will the audience be able to ask live questions?
Should they have their camera on?
Is the event about tactical actions or an overall strategy?
A quick refresher on tactical vs strategic: strategy describes the destination and how you are going to get there, whereas tactics drill down on the specific actions you are going to take along the way. Capeesh?
If the idea of running a virtual conference sends you running for the hills—why not partner up with another brand or company you’ve got synergy with and leverage a co-branding opportunity! Co-branded events are a really powerful way to raise your brand profile and connect with new, like-minded audiences. Just think about these big co-branded activations:
Adidas & Kayne (Yeezy!)
Uber & Spotify
Go Pro & Red Bull
How does this work for virtual events? Think of it as an opportunity to have guest speakers from another organisation, brand or company—the approach is to co-host the event and jointly inform both your audiences about it. You can even take a three-pronged approach but having a brand partner, a community partner and your business altogether. The brand partner—let’s say it’s your dream partnership company—they bring credibility and the community partner helps drive attendees. You can even draw up a ‘lead share agreement’ whereby both brands give access to the list of leads garnered from the virtual event or conference—an incentive for all involved to drive sign-ups!
3. Spread the word
When it comes to how to promote an event online—give your keynote speakers and your employees and networks the ability to share and promote the event. You could simply ask them to share a link to the event on their social media and across their digital marketing platforms (but that’s a bit boring!)— unless that link is to a video you’ve created with shareable and branded video trailers that the event speakers can publish. And, don’t forget the power of word of mouth. There’s plenty of ways to promote webinars for free.
Here’s some social media tips for your business:
Think about where you want your event to be seen? By industry professionals? Okay, let’s look at how to promote webinar on LinkedIn (did you know that on average, 46% of B2B social media traffic comes from LinkedIn?)
First, check out our blog on How to Make Video Ads for Linkedin
Create the necessary assets—promotional images, logos, among others
Use LinkedIn Ads
Spread the work in relevant LinkedIn Groups
Share related content to get the conversation going
Display Social Media wall with event live stream to boost engagement
Business tips: Why not create a video ad to help build some buzz around your virtual events! If the shoe fits, you could even run an incentive or promotion at your company—offering some kind of reward or prize for the person who receives the most number of attendees from the invitation. Think of your video ad as a trailer for the event. Make it share-worthy on social media and that might encourage sign-ups to the event!
Or, Create a Social Media Challenge. As EventMB, the go-to online resource for the event industry says, “platforms like TikTok and Instagram, can be incredibly effective when it comes to fundraising and building awareness. Most importantly, they can be done virtually.” Here's Colgate's #MakeMomSmile TikTok challenge.
4. Make it personal
Different sections of your virtual conference might be relevant to a range of audiences. For example, a business owner might want to attend to hear from a certain guest speaker discussing the ‘ins and outs of a successful digital marketing strategy’, while a new starter in an industry might want to hear a segment on ‘101 of launching a marketing campaign’.
Business tip: use email marketing to divide and conquer—devise segments so you can market the various topics of the virtual conference to different groups and demographics on your mailing list via webinar promotion emails. Why not make a personalized video invite via email!
5. Track it
A great rule of thumb for any business: whenever you need to use resources (time or money) to promote an event, for example, a b2b webinar, you really ought to be tracking the results to see how your marketing energy stacks up against the outcome.
Learn which of your call to action methods or platforms are standing out, and embrace the stronger strategy, after all, in marketing, just like in life, it’s survival of the fittest!
Fast 5: Fun virtual event ideas
1. Picture this
Getting an artist on board to create real-time illustrations, also known as “digital live scribing” , helps out all those visual learners and makes the event more engaging. Plus, these illustrations could be used for future marketing material!
2. Game on
Consider adding a layer of fun with virtual trivia games, polls or competitions. For example, Salesforce did a live ‘battle of the apps’ competition between its conference exhibitors, and had the audience participate by voting for their favorite. Virtual team building is also a popular option if you have to work from home.
Address the global stress the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to people by adding in a relaxing mindful element to your live event. This might be a guided meditation or a fun workout to get the blood pumping!
4. Get chatty!
Pre-event chat rooms are a great idea for networking. This allows the event attendees to begin introducing themselves and begin to build a community around the event before it kicks off, sort of like online welcome drinks!
5. Virtual Swag Bag
Give your attendees something extra! If you have sponsors for your event, or have some branded merchandise, you can use this as an opportunity to promote products or offer brand exposure with digital coupons, a free software trial, or discount on an online course!
Now that you know how to market a kick-ass virtual conference, you should definitely start with a video marketing strategy for your online event! With the Clipchamp Video Editor you can create all the assets needed to get your event out there. Don’t forget to create a fun video montage wrap-up after the event