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How to create a successful online event

The ability to host virtual events successfully is imperative to your success in today’s business climate. Here are a few tips to steer you in the right direction.

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Image: KnowTechie

Ever since COVID-19 wreaked havoc across the world, many businesses were forced to transition to a remote work lifestyle. And because of shelter in place and social distancing orders across the country, events and conferences have been canceled. However, there’s been a significant rise in online events—now is a better time than ever to capitalize on this trend.

Instead of canceling events altogether, even organizers have begun to create robust digital viewing and interacting platforms. The wildly popular SXSW, for instance, will be a fully online event in 2020. Everything from musical acts to tech conferences has pivoted to online experiences.

Whether you want to host an online seminar or three-day conference series, the ability to host virtual events successfully is imperative to your success in today’s business climate. Here are a few tips to steer you in the right direction:

Create Clear Objectives

Every event revolves around a goal, and a goal can be branched out into several key objectives. For example, perhaps your event is focused on the theme “makers and tinkerers.” From here, you can create different segments that accommodate that theme, like “the future of 3D printing” or “building your first prototype.”

As you build out your objectives, consider some of the most frequently asked questions, and create objectives around that. Writing down your objectives during a thorough brainstorming session will help you as you build your agenda later on and guide you as you figure out which guest speakers to invite.

Choose a Virtual Event Provider

The key to a great virtual event is to make the event feel like a real, live event. If your virtual event involves multiple speakers or complex schedule blocks, it may be best for you to work with a virtual event provider or platform.

Virtual event platforms offer several features designed to help you promote, plan, and execute online events. They make it easier for you to facilitate digital experiences through integrations with important video conference software, ticketing, interactive content, and much more.

Build an Agenda

Once you have clear objectives for what your event is all about, it’s time to build an agenda. Your agenda should act as a high-level overview for your entire online event, especially when you have several keynote speakers. To help you, check out agendas for other events.

Although your event is online, it should still follow a similar structure as in-person events. For instance, you might want to include breakout sessions and breaks to give your attendees some time away from the computer.

Your agenda should be easily accessible in blocks on your platform of choice, depending on who you use for your virtual event provider. This helps ensure the event remains structured and focused, even when different attendees choose to partake in different blocks or sessions. You should also include your agenda on your website and as a part of your email marketing campaign.

Choose Your Speakers

Unlike in-person events, your online event isn’t bound by geographical constraints. Now is a great time to take advantage of this. Reach out to industry professionals or talented educators that you may not have been able to before—regardless of their location.

Your talent pool opens up significantly with an online event, and the ease of a digital conference also heightens the chance that they’ll be able to fit you into their schedule. Having great speakers makes your event more desirable and easier to market.

Start Marketing Your Event

There’s no way around it: no matter who you are and what industry you’re in, you have to market your event. The age-old adage, “if you build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply to the online world. Whenever you create an event, you have to spread the word. If you don’t already, create social channels for your event or promote them on your existing channels. Paid social media ads will likely be worth your time. They’re easy to run and cost-effective, too.

You should also consider influencer marketing. Influencer marketing can be an extremely valuable aspect of your overall marketing strategy. Use an influencer marketing platform to help you find relevant influencers who are proficient in your platform of choice. For example, if your brand makes educational videos on YouTube, you’d want to work with YouTube influencers. Influencers have the ability to exert great influence over their followers and spread the word about your event. When possible, consider it in your marketing tactics.

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