Virtual events are essential marketing tools for the short and long term
Thursday, April 02, 2020
During the coronavirus outbreak, live events for your brand have obviously been tabled. Planning virtual events, however, can very much be part of your present social/digital marketing strategy — and you may just find they work for you in the post-COVID-19 times as well.
Virtual events can effectively span the gamut from trade shows, sales environments, conferences and more; you can basically showcase every aspect and facet of your marketing might directly to your customers wherever they are.
What's more, HootSuite data points to live tweeting as a terrific interactive element that allows you and your audience to powerfully interact during virtual events. This means you can shape your message as your event evolves.
What key points do you need to keep in mind so you can plan and execute great virtual events? Pay close attention to these 10 smart moves to ensure clarity and great participant reactions.
1. Get the word out early. You may think your audience is stuck in neutral with lots of time on their hands. That's true, perhaps, but that doesn't mean you can schedule a quick, simple event at the last minute and expect people to join you.
Plan at least one week out for simple webinars or discussion forums; plan at least one month out for more complicated events. Your audience is industrious and plugged-in; even at a time like this, you don't know what else might grab their attention.
2. Take a head count. Try to get a firm idea of the number of your participants before your event so you can adjust your approach as needed. Don't close your event too quickly, though...this is the perfect time to let new customers and clients jump in spontaneously and check out what you've got to offer.
3. Set up your tech so you have a seamless transmission. Keep your equipment simple — even Wi-Fi can work for small events. Make sure you've test-run your tech several times, though, so you don't experience a crash when you go live. Consult your IT workers throughout your planning process. and build in some back-up plans in case you have any unforeseen issues.
4. Incorporate multiple livestreams within one event. Open up your audience's feed options so they can move back and forth between teachable portions, discussion groups, virtual talks, and product demos by integrating livestreams from a variety of your team members. Each member of your team can act as a "host" or narrator of the portion of the event they're streaming, which adds a lively, personal touch to your event.
Keep in mind, too, that each member of your team can do this in a low-tech way. Eventbrite data cites using Facebook Live or Periscope. And to really cut costs, consider live streaming from your team's phones or using live cameras, which can be purchased for less than $400 apiece.
5. Integrate tutorials, training and behind-the-scenes footage into a product launch to build excitement. Research from Event Manager Blog found that event participants cited networking, learning and entertainment as their top three priorities. Knowing this, you want to lay out clear times on your event roster when each of these elements will be addressed.
Think of a virtual event as super-fluid; your participants should be able to move freely and sample your wares the same way they would if you were set up in a convention space.
6. Weave Stories from your audience and participants into a live event. Send out how-tos on how your participants can share their personal journeys through your event space early, encourage tagging, and urge your participants to post their experiences on all of their social media platforms in real time, so as many non-participants as possible suddenly want to jump on board with you.
7. Use shoppable posts as part of a virtual event for easy real-time sales. Refer to precisely where the products you are touting can be found on your website and social media often and overtly during your event. Also, make navigation super-easy so you can tout sales numbers throughout the day as you rack up purchases.
8. Limit the bells and whistles. Focus your time and energy on a maximum of 10 products or services for an initial event. This way, both you and your participants can concentrate on what is most essential without distraction while you're on a learning curve. You can add more products and services down the line.
9. Get feedback. After your event, ask your audience and team to tell you what they felt worked and what didn't. Act on their constructive criticism to deliver an even better experience next time.
10. Have fun! A positive attitude that's genuine is infectious. Make your participants feel welcome, and they'll want to do business with you.
A virtual event can be easy to manage and a low-cost boon to your bottom line. You're not dealing with live event costs, so your attention is freed up to make a great impression. Focus on quality, plan for providing product quantity, and get ready to experience great success!
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