How to make the most of online events?

The world is moving at a fast pace and businesses need to find a way to adapt and make those changes work for them. As more job opportunities and events are taking place in the virtual world, it can be challenging to find the right approach. Whether you are looking at it from the angle of the organizer or the attendee, you need to learn how to make the most of online events. And with the help of Digital Dot and our perspective, you might be a step closer to getting there. Today, we look at the digitization of events today and how to take the most advantage of them.

The different types of virtual events today

Woman holding a laptop and smiling
With so many different types of events today, it can be difficult to make the most out of each.

A virtual event is an online substitute for an organized meeting that would otherwise take place at a physical location. And with the unfortunate occurrence of COVID-19, the world has been pushed into a state of attending and hosting events online rather than in person. From simple Q&A meet-ups to large-scale conferences, the demand for virtual events continues to grow with each passing day. Here is a quick walkthrough of the online events you can attend or host:

How-to’s, tutorials, and classes

These forms of online events are a great way to promote new products and services that a company introduces. It can be a potentially great strategy for B2C companies, looking to bring their products closer to audiences. And it all comes down to short Q&A videos that can help a business grow its brand awareness and engage target audiences with relevant content.

Training and courses

Here, we have an online event approach that is more suited for B2B marketing strategies. These events would take up more time and be comprised of multiple sessions, to help educate other businesses on how to master certain tools, solutions such as paid advertising or SEO strategizing, programs, etc. Additionally, this type of event can be a great campaign when it comes to self-help and self-improvement.

Behind-the-scenes tours

Given the restriction of the inability to travel to certain places (even before the pandemic), places like museums, galleries, theaters, airports, national parks, etc. have created virtual tours of their facilities. This particular type of event is great for educational purposes. Of course, businesses can also use this approach for recruitment purposes – giving others insight into their facilities:

  • Offices
  • Labs
  • Factories
  • Workshops
  • etc.

Make your business more engaging by bringing it closer to your target customers virtually.

Interviews and performances

Everything from TED talks to stand-ups and one-on-one interviews falls under these particular categories. The decision on whether or not you want to hire a digital marketing agency or a freelancer can come down to hearing a live talk from an individual. If you are looking to entice social media users or boost the effects of your email marketing campaigns, this is a great way to achieve this.

Conferences and shows

Large-scale events have a particular benefit from streaming online. From concerts and summits to professional industry conferences, attending such events is something people across the globe wish for. With the use of virtual events, you can get all those people to attend an event, establishing your business as a relevant authority in its industry.

How to make the most of online events as an ORGANIZER?

Person looking at laptop while attending an online meeting.
Planning an event can take a lot of time and energy.

There’s little point in investing time and resources into an online event that will bring your business no gain. That is why you need to make sure to stay focused on every detail and to find the best way to grow your business with it. After all, with online gathering and events have become a trend in 2020, it is certain that they will continue to play a key role in all forms of business. And so, we take this chance to introduce some of the most effective ways to plan a successful event online. This is just one of the better ways to benefit from digital marketing in a post-coronavirus era. So, here are our tips on how to avoid logistical missteps with putting together online events and making the most of them:

1. Put some thought into planning out your event

No matter the type or size of the event that you are drawing up, you need to make sure to think it through. You need a game plan that consists of a goal, concept, structure, and innovative ideas. And the earlier you start with the planning stages, the higher chance of success your virtual event will have. So, make sure to take the following questions into consideration before you begin:

  • What kind of experience do you hope to deliver?
  • Will the event be live, on-demand, or both?
  • Where do I want the content to be seen?
  • Will access be gated or free?
  • When is the best time for the event?
  • Will you require event registration?
  • How will you promote the event?
  • Do you plan to work with an advertiser or other partner?
  • Will people still have access to the event once it’s over?
  • What KPIs and data do you plan to track?

2. Choose the right time

If you really want to make the most of online events, remember that timing is everything. And so, make sure to carefully think through the date and time of your online event. Do your research and understand your audience to ensure that there are no competing events taking place. Additionally, if you’re planning a global virtual event, you need to consider time zones and the language barriers for different nationalities. And then, there is also the option of recording the event in question so that those that were unable to attend it would have the chance to watch it at a later time.

3. Take time to promote the event

Person looking at calendar on laptop
Timing plays a key role in making the most of your virtual event.

If you think hosting an event can be stressful, consider the notion of having to promote it. It’s an essential part of getting the most benefits from such an endeavor – the right approach in marketing is to your target audiences. And in order to that, you need to put together a good incentive – one that is rich with key selling points that attendees will be looking for. Whether it’s going to be a noteworthy speaker, an opportunity to network with others, gain new skills and knowledge, receive a demo of new software and tools, etc. – you need to find a way to advertise it.

  • One of the ways to go about it is through the implementation of the right email marketing campaign. Remember that your message needs to be transparent and to the point, not to mention enticing and engaging enough for everyone to understand and find appealing.
  • Once you’re done with the emails, reshift your focus on using social media strategies to promote your online event. Consider the use of Instagram Stories, Facebook Events, LinkedIn InMail ads, etc.
  • Also, make sure to have others promote the event for you. If you have keynote speakers, convert them into ambassadors for your event and brand. Make the most of online events with an optimized and tailored landing page – one that customers will be able to land on from all your promotional channels.

For any additional questions that you might have on how to promote your virtual event, schedule a social media consultation with our team.

4. Prepare for tech troubles

If physical events have hitches, virtual events have glitches. Before kicking things off, test your Internet connection—and have your speakers do the same. Prepare backups of visuals and presentations in case a file goes wonky or awol. If possible, run a rehearsal. The sooner you identify problems, the sooner you can identify solutions.

Remember that not all of your guests are tech-savvy. Anticipate the troubles people may have by preparing easy to follow guides or FAQs. If you have the resources to provide support, even better. Make sure it’s easy to find where and how to ask for help.

5. Make it inclusive

Just like in-person events, virtual events should be as inclusive and accessible as possible. Make sure clear language, large fonts, and high color contrast is used at all touchpoints—including presentations. Provide captions and visuals where possible for audio, and provide descriptions where possible for visuals. Sites like Vfairs also include page narrations and allow text character sizes to be adjusted.

And this probably goes without saying by now, but if your event includes a panel of experts, try to avoid choosing exclusively cis white males. Unless you want your event to trend for the wrong reasons, make sure your virtual event showcases a diverse range of voices.

6. Encourage engagement

It’s simple: If you create opportunities for engagement, your audience will be more engaged. Why? It’s fun to see the outcomes of your engagement. Just imagine asking viewers to submit questions in comments or through a chat tool. Chances are the people who ask questions are going to stick around to see if they get answered.

  • If you do this, make sure to have a moderator assigned to the task of fielding questions.

Virtually every online platform has interactive features. Ask people to participate in polls or quizzes. Encourage live-tweeting. Take requests and suggestions. Or simply shoutout names as people tune in. And at the end of the event, ask for feedback.

How to make the most of online events as an ATTENDEE?

This year has brought about many challenges and difficulties in terms of working and socialization with others. And among those challenges came the drastic increase in online meetings and events. For the majority of people that were used to networking and learning from attending events in person, attending such events online might seem unproductive at first. After all, how can one possibly hope to make the same connection with others via virtual channels? Nothing can replace the value of that in-person communication. Not quite.

A person learning how to make the most of online events as an attendee.
Watch and learn – sometimes it’s just that simple.

Once you realize how to make the most of online events as the person attending them, you can gain the same amount of value from them as you would from an in-person attendance. With the popular notion of webinars and online courses in the past decade, people have grown accustomed to the option of being able to join sessions and presentations from anywhere in the world.

Depending on the platform the event organizer uses, you can attend numerous sessions that are both informative and engaging – all from the comfort of your home. All you need to know is how to make the time you spend on these events as productive as it would be in-person (if not more productive). And here are five simple tips to help guide you to that outcome:

1. Block your time

Give yourself ample time before the event to do your research and prepare adequately. And make sure to leave time after the event, to summarize everything and connect with other attendees. If the online event in question is scheduled to last for an entire day or more, it is important to make plans with your co-workers. Whether you plan on being absent throughout the course of the conference or to have someone replace you or record the event, make sure to plan it all. Good organization is vital in coordinating your productivity when attending online events that can contribute to the long-term growth of your skills and business.

2. Explore the opportunity

Before attending a virtual event or online conference, learn about all they have to offer. Many of these conferences will provide a variety of content opportunities, like keynote presentations, workshops, panel conversations, or open Q&A forums for attendees. Distinguish between programs you’d like to attend live to engage with the presenter and attendees and those you can watch on-demand at a later time. Can you get continuing professional education (CPE) credits from any of these sessions? Are the slides or other materials available before or after the presentation? Find out as much as you can so you can prepare ahead of time.

3. Engage with the content

It can be difficult to pay attention to someone talking indirectly to you through a screen, while you’re sitting at your desk and messages are flying into your inbox. To help you connect with the content and practice good conference call etiquette, turn off email notifications and put your phone on silent to avoid distractions. Take notes and participate in the discussion by asking questions during the Q&A or sharing challenges or experiences in the larger group chat. You could also ask one or two colleagues if they’d like to join you for a 15-minute debrief after the presentation to discuss key points and takeaways.

If the event has a virtual exhibit hall or trade show, dedicate some time to browse through it. Companies exhibiting at the virtual booths offer an array of content, including videos, surveys, documents, website links, and sometimes even prizes and games. Depending on the platform, you can also chat one-on-one with a live representative, which is a great networking opportunity (and segues into our next tip).

​​​​​​​4. Network with attendees

You may not believe it, but it can be just as easy to network at online events as it is at in-person events. You can’t make comments to the person sitting next to you at a keynote presentation, but you can directly message someone who asked a particularly interesting question during a webinar or Q&A forum or set up meetings with them in a virtual breakout room.

If the conference or webinar platform doesn’t provide these built-in networking capabilities, take note of a potential contact’s name and follow up with them on LinkedIn. You now have something in common with people attending the online event, so it should be easy to make a connection.

​​​​​​​5. Determine your takeaways

After you attend an online or virtual event, think about how it can benefit your career or business. What leadership advice from the speaker can you incorporate into your management style? How can you apply new industry strategies to your current business challenges? If you think your team or colleagues would also benefit from anything you’ve learned, ask them if they’d like to receive an email with detailed notes.

Time set aside for professional development is always time well spent, whether in-person or virtual. Now you’ll know how to approach online conferences and take full advantage of the educational and networking opportunities there.

Start thinking ahead of your competitors

This new era that humanity faces on a daily basis is challenging to grasp and live through. COVID-19 has exemplified just how one global event can change the entire course of the world we know. And as local and global events are being delayed or canceled, it falls on people to find new ways to adapt and overcome such obstacles. Online events have proven to be that alternative substitute so far. However, there is still much to learn here. And among those many things is what we discussed here today – how to make the most of online events.

Although more inclusive, diverse, and accessible – virtual events are much more challenging to coordinate and maintain. As a business, you need to discover ways to keep audiences engaged. As an attendee, you need to refocus your efforts on how to take the most out of each event. In the end, it all comes down to simplicity. Start making the right choices when it comes to online events by consulting with marketing professionals living in the trend.

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