While the pandemic has enforced restrictions on mobility worldwide, virtual events are on a steady rise. Diarmaid Mac Mathúna has some handy tips to add zest to online events
Now that the initial switch to virtual events has settled down, many organisers are facing new challenges. These range from getting enough people to register, to making their event look good on camera to finding ways to facilitate audience interaction and networking. Based on our experience of live television broadcasting and European event live streaming, we’ve developed the LIVE Framework to help overcome these challenges, here at indiepics:
Let people know: To encourage people to watch a virtual event, they need to know well in advance that it’s going to happen. Planning a regular slot works well for smaller and shorter events such as webinars and round tables, since that builds
anticipation and viewing habits among your audience. For instance, you could plan
to host a webinar consistently on the first Wednesday of every month. Larger virtual
events need to be announced weeks or even months in advance so that people can
“save the date” and block off the time in their diaries.
It’s important to run a promotional campaign on email and social media to build anticipation
before any event. Paid social media campaigns on Twitter and LinkedIn targeted at
professionals in your sector can work particularly well in driving registrations. Announcing
high profile speakers one by one can help your event stand out from the crowd and build a
sense of momentum. It’s also important to send email reminders that will keep your event
on people’s agenda. We recommend sending at least three email reminders: A “don’t
forget” message 48 hours beforehand, a “coming up soon” message early on the day of the
event and a “we’re going live now” message when your event actually goes live.
Invest in the visuals: Investing in good quality video, audio and vision mixing
equipment is critical. We also recommend investing time and money in making sure
that the background and “studio set” look visually impressive for your main
presenter or the event host. For smaller events, this can be achieved very cost-
effectively by using a room that has a large television screen in the background, such
as a meeting room. The screen can be used to show your branding or relevant
visuals, giving a hi-tech feel to the broadcast akin to a news programme.
Larger events benefit from using a studio set up where your event host has more freedom
to walk around and additional camera angles can add visual variety. Another way to improve
the viewer experience is by using a virtual event platform that allows you to integrate
countdown videos and holding slides that will make the broadcast seamless for viewers.
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The key to success for virtual events is engaging with your
audience before, during and after the event.
Viewers need relevancy: There are so many virtual events happening these days
that it’s important to make sure that your event’s topics are actually interesting
enough to attract the viewers you want. We recommend using the indiepics ZEUS
Principles to ensure that your content is relevant to your audience. This means
tapping into Zeitgeist themes that people in your sector are talking about, including
some topics that people feel Emotional about, providing Useful information from
experts and sharing human Stories about real-world impact.
Engage in real-time: The key to success for virtual events is engaging with your
audience before, during and after the event. This can be done very effectively by
inviting questions beforehand on email as well as on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
During an event, polls can be run to add interactivity and give speakers a sense that
they’re not speaking into the void. Gamification concepts can also be added even to
the most formal event by, for instance, asking a quiz question that people answer
using the chat feature.
Networking is often overlooked in virtual events but can be encouraged by inviting people
to share their LinkedIn profile addresses in the online chat. Trying to answer viewer
questions immediately within seconds of them being asked during the broadcast will also
keep people watching.
A great way to create a long tail of impact from an event and grow interest for the next one is to repurpose the content as promotional video material. This can be shared through email with people who registered as well as with a wider audience on social media. Longer videos of the event could be uploaded to YouTube afterwards with keyword loaded titles and descriptions used to boost findability through search engine optimisation (SEO). Short extracts can also be published as standalone video clips on platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to engage with people there and spark discussions. Even shorter clips can be published as “bite-sized” content on Twitter to reach a wider audience.
By following these four key tips of the LIVE Framework, you will increase the number of your
viewers, deepen audience engagement and ensure your virtual events have more impact.