Virtual Events Are Sticking Around – Here’s How to Make the Most of Them
We all know, events and conferences were hard to come by in 2020 due to the state of emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The global crisis caused many pain points for so many people and even put a hold on some aspects of PR and marketing such as postponing live events and conferences to later dates or ultimately canceling them due to the pandemic.
Now that things are re-opening and more people get vaccinated, we can expect events and conferences to make their return in 2021. Panels of experts touching on various industries, lively convention centers with interested media, analysts, and consumers, and one-on-one briefings with the press are all back on the table for brands. Of course, there will still be a large presence of virtual options to help people have the option of experiencing these events from afar if they prefer a socially distanced experience.
In a previous post, we looked at what you can expect with conferences coming back in 2021, but let’s take a deeper look at ways you can maximize the value of virtual events.
The Art of Connection
One of the biggest reasons for in-person events is social interaction. As humans, we value in-person interactions and the sharing of experiences. With virtual events, brands can still offer that feeling of connection in creative ways.
Like social media, promoting engagement during the session is encouraged. Asking questions, creating polls, incorporating live chats are all viable options for creating a connected experience for your brand and the audience.
In the midst of 2020, the NBA carried on its season with no in-person attendance but created a spectacle that felt like fans were still in the stands. With monitors showcasing fans from around the world watching the games virtually, a more connected experience was offered for the players, coaches, and supporters who continued to cheer on their favorite teams from the comfort of their own homes. A similar concept can be considered as your brand brainstorms creative ways to make the virtual conference more engaging and innovative for your audience.
Monitors showcasing your viewers and having occasional two-way conversations can be more popular options as you and other brands consider virtual events.
Get Your Point Across Quickly
We all hear about how attention spans are getting shorter, but during the time of the pandemic, we heard plenty about a serious phenomenon – Zoom Fatigue.
When it comes to virtual trade shows or events that adopt the hybrid model of in-person and virtual, event organizers and participating brands need to consider the length of virtual sessions. Virtual sessions certainly have its benefits where consumers and media members can absorb everything in the comfort of their own home or office, but can you expect consumers to stay engaged over their video screens for the entire duration?
If your brand is partaking in activations or speaking opportunities, consider the length of your session and prioritize getting your top talking points and messages across as quickly as possible.
The Follow Through: Post Event Action
Consider the entertainment industry and in particular, streaming services and on-demand content. One of the reasons why consumers love streaming services and on-demand options is having the ability to pull up old episodes or recordings to watch on their own time.
If you are planning to have a virtual event, it is highly valuable to record your session and make it available for your audience so they can listen again and again in case they missed some parts of the presentation.
Leveraging recordings and promoting them on your website and social channels is an excellent way to get more value out of virtual events and provide your audience with additional content. Whether it is sharing the recording on your home page for a certain time period or cutting the virtual session into 60 or 90-second clips to promote on Twitter or LinkedIn, it is important to maximize the value of your virtual presentation after it has been conducted.
No matter if this is your first or tenth time involved with a virtual conference, make it a point of emphasis to gather your audience’s feedback. Conduct a survey and gather your consumer’s thoughts on if you provided a connected experience, the desired level of interaction and engagement, and relevant speaking topics for the consumer. With this feedback, you and your team will have a head start on how to improve your virtual delivery and maximize the value for your audience.