Wondering whether to attend another virtual event? Make sure to follow these tips to really benefit from online conferences and events.
It’s been a year like no other. “Business as usual” has been replaced with Zoom calls, Skype meetings, WhatsApp chats, and a whole bunch of virtual events.
And as expos, seminars, and networking events go digital, you need to brush up on your virtual attendance skills and etiquette. After all, a lot of events are happening right now:
As the creative director of a marketing agency, Contentworks, I’ve attended plenty of virtual events over the past year. And now I’m sharing how to take advantage of attendance of any virtual event.
With enforced lockdowns still in place, almost everything business-related—such as lead generation, forming business partnerships, and promoting products—has changed. But how’s the virtual events landscape panning out so far?
Virtual platforms experienced phenomenal growth over the last few months as people scrambled for new ways to continue to do business, build connections, and generate leads. Among those prospering in the pandemic, unsurprisingly, is Zoom, which added a $47.9 billion market cap.
Eagerly anticipated events have gone digital. Events that had virtual back-ups were also able to quickly pivot during lockdown periods with software company Salesforce shifting all their events online.
Microsoft’s Build developer event also followed suit, with digitally-savvy companies working hard to maintain their revenue.
As a direct result of the pandemic, 7 in 10 CMOs have asked their employees to promote the company and what it can offer.
Yes, we all definitely want our old in-person events back again … However, social media managers and digital agencies agree that virtual events [and webinars] will continue to be an essential form of communication and a vital business asset.
And you don’t have to host an event to make an impact.
Here are some tips for attending your next virtual event.
First things first: Be sure to have a strategy in place before you attend a virtual event.
Make sure to have the following:
Will the online event benefit you or your business? Check out the full schedule and see if it will add value to your daily working life or offer the chance to make new business connections.
For example, if you’re in the fintech sector and looking for educational ways to grow your knowledge of the industry, attending the virtual Hong Kong Fintech Week might be perfect for you. After all, as an attendee, you have the chance to explore dozens of fintech masterclasses and workshops.
You don’t want your team up in the middle of the night. So, if there’s a conference you’re interested in attending, see if it’s workable.
Or find out whether you can follow the virtual event on social media or watch a playback later. That way, you can get all the insights without losing sleep.
Event hosts are trying their best to be mindful of time zones.
Varun Chibber, founder and director of Apollo Live Entertainment, said:
“Accommodating all attendees becomes difficult, especially when you want to host a virtual event on a global scale. During such a time, either pick a time zone that suits multiple countries, or you can host multiple such events for different countries as per their time and maybe tweak it according to their preference. Also, try to have it live-streamed simultaneously on other platforms so it can be stored online, and people can come back and watch it.”
Do you want to attract leads and grow your business? Perhaps you’re all about education and networking?
If so, you need to focus on the networking accessibility of the event. Can people chat directly with you? Do you have digital assets you can send them like a video, presentation, or ebook?
Think about your budget. Can you afford to attend paid digital events or is it best to attend free conferences that can still help you achieve your business goals?
If you received refunds from canceled physical events, consider channeling that back into your virtual budget.
Check out the event sponsors and learn about what they do.
Giving a shoutout or thank you to sponsors at a virtual event always gets you noticed and may open up future business opportunities.
If you have enough budget, consider being an event sponsor. Doing so can yield plenty of benefits for your brand.
You should always know what KPIs you want to track, so you can monitor the success of your efforts.
KPIs could include social media mentions tracked through social listening tools or increased web traffic to your site or social media profiles.
Organization is key! Block out time for the event in your calendar so you won’t be disturbed.
Have the schedule to hand and know exactly where you’re supposed to be and at what time. Researching speakers and their Twitter handles in advance will save time if you want to tweet any questions or comments during the event.
How will you promote your attendance at the digital event?
If you’re attending as opposed to sponsoring then you probably won’t want to spend some of your budget on promotion. However, you can create engagement organically with content, speaker snippets, GIFs, short video clips, and event hype.
How will you log conversations or track leads? If you don’t have a CRM to directly input information, you should at least have a shared document that you can update.
Information includes name, company, contact details, and conversations of the people you spoke with. (I don’t want to be a bore but do remember GDPR. Never add emails to your database if the person didn’t give you permission to do so!)
To promote the fact you’re attending or speaking at a specific virtual event, you can:
Marketing Director Anna Ilyukhina of Swisschain does this so well.
Business events sit naturally on LinkedIn as the audience views this social networking channel through a professional lens.
If you’re a speaker or a sponsor then you might want to boost the event’s presence using Facebook events on your company page.
Remember that event attendees on Facebook are not always indicative of actual event attendees. Be sure to include the event link and keep posting with updates, teasers, and even special offers.
For more specific niches such as music events, you could try Spotify as its algorithm delivers event searches based on a user’s location and listening style. Creating a Spotify playlist is also a good way to build excitement when integrated into your social media pages.
Utilize your Agorapulse calendar to regularly schedule event reminders and updates. You can see the posts, tweets, and videos we scheduled for The Big Forex Breakfast, an event on October 15.
Yes, it’s a thing. Keep the text short and tag speakers or companies like you would on Instagram Stories.
You can do this throughout the event to keep your audience informed without clogging up their newsfeed. (Remember to post to Stories only and uncheck newsfeed.)
There are plenty of sponsorship opportunities with virtual events.
Here’s how to be an event sponsor.
If there are specific branding rules in sponsor guidelines, make sure you follow them. This could be anything from stylistic specifications to wording.
Familiarize yourself with the event, social media posts, imagery, and fan base. Never do anything that’s off-brand for them.
Send high-quality images and videos for the event to use. This could be short videos, GIFs, logos, and a range of high-quality images.
Remember to size them correctly and preview them before the virtual event goes live.
Maximize social media mentions by retweeting or sharing them and create blog content explaining your sponsorship.
Many sponsorships come complete with the chance to speak on a panel or moderate a discussion. If you have the knowledge and confidence to do it then you should. If not, look to other members of your team who could shine on the virtual stage.
Creating content around the event can improve your SEO ranking for keywords and generate industry interest. It’s also the perfect way to crank up those sponsorship mentions.
Tell your company story, share insights and team interviews, and create excitement with event giveaways or surprises.
As a sponsor, you can propose some surprises for attendees. This will generate a buzz around your brand and leave attendees with a good impression of the event. Think about virtual giveaways or value adds that could be sponsored. For example, a voucher for free delivery of a drink at a virtual cocktail party.
Don’t have the big bucks needed for sponsorship? Utilize your time and expertise as a media partner. You will still get great exposure at the event but will pay it back with content, social media posts, and media support.
DO repurpose event content. If you were an event speaker, add your presentation to Slideshare or your videos to a YouTube playlist.
DON’T ignore social media chats. Follow event hashtags and be a great community member by contributing ideas and insights. Avoid being negative about a speaker or presentation.
DO have a team member on chat and social media to answer questions and comments on behalf of your brand. This is essential if you are exhibiting or sponsoring the event.
DO have fun. Online event fatigue is a real thing this year, so be fun, interactive, and different.
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