If you’re like me, you have serious screen exhaustion and are keen for more in-person events to come back!
But months of LOCKDOWNS got us thinking…do we NEED to do this in person, or can this be done more efficiently online? Virtual events are here to stay.
When virtual events became popular at the start of the pandemic, we originally saw them as a temporary solution to maintain connection and continue hosting events for product launches, networking and more. However, as restrictions around the world ease and we crave in-person experiences again, there is still a taste for virtual – why is that?
At FAULHABER, we have found ourselves asking the question: does this NEED to be a physical event? Especially if you’re planning a media or influencer event, it’s important to evaluate if a multi-city event could yield the same results as a 30-minute nationwide Zoom – and very often, virtual is the way to go!
The biggest reason why virtual events will have a permanent place in event production is that hosting one is relatively inexpensive. With the rising costs of – EVERYTHING – including human capital, leaders are tasked with using resources wisely. No need to rent an event venue, hire a caterer and invest in one-time use decor costs. This also means that you can bring in talent from anywhere in the world at a fraction of the cost.
Online events allow us to speak to a global audience, which means you can activate once instead of multiple times in major cities. The efficiency gained from turning to virtual from a marketing perspective means brands can host more events for the same cost, have more budget to put towards other initiatives, OR brands with limited budgets can execute large-scale events.
Since it’s clear virtual events are here to stay, here’s our expert guide to creating an engaging event in the digital realm – whether you’re hosting five guests or 500!
Virtual Event Platforms
There are HUNDREDS of platforms to host your virtual event pending your goals and budget.
Conferencing platforms are the most popular. They’re free and can be used very basically or with more advanced elements. These are the ones most of us know and use, including Zoom, Teams and Google Meets. They’re free and easy to use, can have interactive or presentation-only elements, and can be hosted with professional AV or just your computer camera!
Social media platforms are used for more raw and authentic content – think Facebook and Instagram Lives. Also free and easy to use, there is typically less production required to maintain the organic feel of the event and involves less planning.
Specialized event platforms are designed with interactivity and customizability in mind. They can be the host site OR can be used to design events that are then broadcast on your social channels or website – i.e. John Krasinksi uses one for his Some Good News show on YouTube. These platforms are what you turn to for gamification, live shopping, sponsorship integration and more, as they are completely customizable. An added bonus is that most of these platforms have tech support, and we all know how handy that can be! Because of this, they can get very expensive, and the added elements may not be needed for the purpose of your event.
10 things to consider when hosting a virtual event
When it comes time to plan your event, there are a lot of questions to ask to understand what elements you will need, where to dedicate budget and perhaps what you haven’t thought of before! Here are some of our go to briefing questions we ask before we plan a virtual event:
- What is the purpose of your event and is virtual a fit? Never do an event for the sake of it!
- How are you inviting people, and how many people to you expect? Email, social, paid entry, etc.?
- What type of audio/visual do you need?
- Who are your host(s) and moderator? It’s great if possible to have a moderator in the chat so the host can truly just host and not have to pause the flow to address questions.
- Do you have a strong enough internet connection? (This one is SO important!)
- When is your event and for how long? Are there multiple time zones?
- What language is the event in – do you need translation?
- What’s the format? Casual? Interactive? Presentation style?
- What branded elements do you have to make sure are included?
- What assets do you have? A pre-recorded video? Imagery?
What’s Possible in a Virtual Event
From concerts to product demonstrations, tradeshows to reveals, almost anything that is possible in the physical realm can be translated in the virtual, and then some! And with virtual events, it’s possible to merge multiple elements into one. Why not host a global corporate meeting that ends with a comedy show? A product demonstration that incorporates live shopping in the middle? Or even a pre-recorded message from a celebrity to kick off a reveal? The options grow as virtual becomes more commonplace to extend well beyond live chats, polling and screen sharing.
Knowing there is some serious screen fatigue, a virtual event needs to have engaging elements to encourage guests not only to attend, but stay on and interact. There are so many things you can do to add this value:
- Live product demo
- Exclusive code or info
- Special announcement
- Access to founder/celebrity/talent
- Special reveal
- All cameras on (nicer for hosts, too!)
- Entertainment value – concert, comedy etc.
- “Follow along” demo
- Breakout rooms
- Food & beverage in advance
- Social integration
The longer your event is, the more engaging elements you need – the more the merrier!
Maximizing & Measuring
Once your event is planned, look for ways you can take it to the next level, be more efficient or add another engaging element. If you follow us, you’ll know we’re all about seeing BIGGER! There are so many ways you can do this. Even the smallest thing can maximize your event. Can you record it and share with anyone who couldn’t attend to reach a wider audience? Can you tease another product during a launch? Can you host a giveaway to increase social shares? What can you send in advance to increase engagement? Did you send a follow-up to all guests after the event?
The sky’s the limit, so don’t shy away from adding that extra element!
Finally, don’t forget to decide in advance what success looks like. Is the goal attendance? Social coverage? An increase in sales? Or is it simply about connection and education? Set clear goals to help guide your event elements from the start!
We’re all accustomed to virtual events now, and even though we can’t wait to be together in person more regularly, there are benefits of virtual that we will always gravitate towards.
Read more about some of the virtual events we have done at FAULHABER.
Do you have an event coming up you need support for? Email us!