Virtual events can bring people together from across the globe - and you don’t even need to step out of your front door! In the current climate of uncertainty, caused by COVID-19, event organisers are turning to virtual experiences to ensure that events such as festivals and conferences are able to be hosted online, in light of social distancing restrictions.
In fact, Forbes reports that virtual events have risen a staggering 1000% since COVID-19...after all, the show must go on! This article will let you know what you need to consider when planning virtual events.
What is a virtual event?
A virtual event is an event which is hosted online, opposed to a physical location. The type of event can range from educational seminars and conferences to live performances - there really is a virtual version of every event! In short, many events are able to be run virtually, they simply require adapting for online platforms. Re-imagining an event for online participation ensures that audiences are still able to get the most out of the event, all from the comfort of their home.
Examples of successful virtual events
Tomorrowland is a huge Belgian music festival and organisers were determined not to let COVID-19 prevent fans from experiencing the electronic dance music they love. So, for the first time ever, they created a digital version of the festival, allowing over 1 million attendees to watch over 60 artists perform from the comfort of their own home. DJ’s live performances were superimposed onto virtual stages from around the world using green screens and 360 degree cameras, with huge crowds being superimposed too to give the festival its usual exciting atmosphere. They even had online activities and workshops for attendees to get involved with - it was certainly a unique event!
DeveloperWeek Global enabled over 15,000 developer professionals to take part in the world’s biggest series of virtual conferences. Attendees were able to share their expertise, listen to over 100 keynote speakers and talks, view demonstrations and interact with others online.
With virtual events running smoothly across the globe, we may have many more online experiences to look forward to in the years to come.
How to create virtual events
If you are planning on hosting a virtual event, we have put together some tips on best practices when it comes to organising:
The first thing you need to do is put together a plan and strategy for your event. You will need to ask yourself lots of questions to best understand the desired outcome of the event, including the following:
What are the goals of my event?
Who is the audience?
What is my budget?
Will my event be free to access or will I be selling tickets? Will I sell advertising space to increase revenue? Should I consider a sponsor?
What is the most appropriate time for my event?
How will I promote the event?
How will I measure the goals I set?
Where will I host the event? - popular virtual event platforms include: GoToWebinar, Zoom, ON24 and Facebook Live. It is worth researching which platform will offer the best user experience for your audience.
The list goes on, but asking yourself the above questions is a great start.
Select and confirm the date and timings of the virtual event
It is important to keep in mind that the dates and timings of your event may influence which speakers/performers are available to support you, so make sure you keep global time zones in mind!
After strategising which date and timings will be appropriate for your event to make it as inclusive as possible, make sure you let your prospective attendees know in advance, so that they can save the date!
Promote your virtual event
Think about the main selling points of your event to inspire your prospective audience. Sharing information about the event online in social media platforms and emails can be a great way to grab people’s attention and invite them. Here are just some ways you could promote your event:
Create videos and/or event flyers to share on social media channels
Launch a podcast - choosing a theme that is relevant to your event
Create a competition - you could get entrants to share information/social media posts about your event to be in with the chance of winning
Display a creative visual or organise a performance - experiential marketing is becoming very popular and gets the public involved!
Get a celebrity or relevant industry professional (with a respectable social media following) to generate a buzz about the event
Send emails...but strategically! - you could consider segmenting your email lists into categories so you can target particular groups (i.e. a group of a particular demographic). Many organisers will encourage people to sign up to their mailing list and through this, they can also send reminder emails, optimising the chance of attendance.
The list could go on, but we have highlighted some platforms you could use to spread the word of your virtual event, as well as some examples of companies marketing events to get you inspired:
Spotify has recently announced the additional feature of virtual event listings to their app. This allows music fans to discover what bands and artists will be streaming a live performance online, keeping fans and artists connected during the uncertain times of COVID-19. So, if you’re an artist with a Spotify account and you’re planning a virtual performance, this is an easy and effective way to reach out and generate a buzz amongst fans!
Just like Spotify, Instagram has creative features to engage and notify users about an event. For example, you can create a countdown for your event which both builds up excitement and reminds users to save the date. You could even consider setting up an event hashtag to encourage people to share their experience and providing them with a place to view images or videos from the day.
Creamfields is a popular electronic music festival in the UK and in absence of their physical festival experience, they’ve been promoting their ‘House Party’ on social media. The event is being labelled as a ’virtual weekender’ and previous footage of the festival is being shared across social media platforms as well as on their website to build excitement around the event.
Be prepared for any technical difficulties
Similar to physical events, virtual events can also suffer from technical issues. Here are some tips on how you can prepare for any tech-related issues:
Ensure that all speakers/performers are ready for their camera time. Remind them to conduct mic checks and check their internet connection well in advance.
Create and disseminate an easy-to-follow guide for attendees so that they are aware of how the event will run, and can find out what to do if they experience any difficulties.
Familiarise yourself with your software platform’s debugging guides and help pages. For instance, Zoom has a support page detailing what to do if you encounter an issue whilst using the platform so you know what steps to take in advance.
Ensure your event is engaging
Attracting an audience is one thing, keeping them engaged is another! That’s why we have put together a few things you can do to ensure that your audience remains engaged:
Set aside some time for a Q&A - This will give attendees the opportunity to ask questions and clarify anything they didn’t understand. Online video communication platforms such as Zoom will often have a chat box for attendees to comment in - just make sure someone is keeping an eye on this and interacting with the audience!
The presenter should be passionate and interesting to watch - There’s nothing worse than a presenter with a monotonous voice reading off of their notes!
Incorporate interactive features to your event - Virtual games such as online quizzes and puzzles are popular ways for attendees to get involved and interact with your event. Recently, event organisers have even experimented with virtual photo booths such as The SnapBar. A fun and simple addition to an event like this not only encourages attendees to get involved, it leaves them with a souvenir to remember the day!
Include some physical activities - getting your audience up and active could be a great way to break-up the event so that audiences aren’t just sitting still (and potentially becoming bored). You could consider running a wellbeing session, such as yoga, or even challenge your audience to learn a dance routine!
Insurance for virtual events
As with any physical event, there is always the possibility of something going wrong during your virtual event. For virtual events, there is a risk of technical glitches, performers pulling out last minute and other issues that may affect your event. This is why it is important to consider virtual event insurance. There are policies available to protect your virtual event so that you are covered if a transmission failure occurs and disrupts the streaming of your event.
Looking to host an event?
If you’re planning an event and want event insurance to keep your money protected, Event Insurance Services can provide reliable event insurance to suit your needs. So, whether you’re looking for one off event insurance or craft fair insurance, we have got you covered!