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  • BLOG
  • 04, SEPTEMBER 2020

Digital Events: What’s Working – and What’s Not

With large-scale in-person events out of the question in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many brands have had to scrap their plans, reimagine their smaller events, or move to the digital space. For those who choose the latter, the past few months have been a journey of hits and misses, resilience, and perseverance.

And as we continue to adapt to a world that is very different than what we are used to, more and more meaningful human connections are taking place virtually. Businesses are adapting in real-time, gathering their own key findings, and looking to peers for guidance on new best practices to adopt — and what to avoid.

 

The Best Digital Events Embrace Virtual Event Staffing

Digital event staffing

It’s normal to feel like you’re scrambling when it comes to planning and executing digital events, especially if your business has long championed the power of in-person. Like live events, digital carries with many logistical elements, from platform training and technology to a strong WiFi signal and a robust attendee engagement plan.

It is for these reasons that the most successful virtual event planners invest in professional virtual event staff to transform and even buoy their digital events.

Looking to professional virtual event staffing means you will have experienced people who can facilitate deeper connections, promote audience engagement, and increase retention. Digital event staff are skilled at identifying those key elements that translate from in-person gatherings to digital conferences — as well as uniquely-digital engagement strategies that apply exclusively to hosting an event online.

Where resources like handouts and samples were once distributed in person, now these assets may need to be delivered digitally or by mail ahead of time. Similarly, whereas traditional brand ambassadors connect with audience members face-to-face, digital event staff know how to amplify a brand’s reach online.

Virtual event staff can also handle digital event logistics, including moderating or emceeing, hosting virtual breakout rooms, chatbox management, Q&As, and polls, and identifying insights and key data points before and after the event.

 

Successful Virtual Events Start with a Dry Run

Like a dress rehearsal before a play, a dry run for your event involves your team running through the entire program without interruptions. These run-throughs allow teams to lean into what works well and exposes the tiny issues that could make or break the event.

Focus on two aspects of your event during the run-through: technical and content.

On the technical side of things, a dry run for your virtual event includes familiarizing the team with the video platform, practicing interactive features, and setting up lighting and other equipment.

The run-through for your presentation’s content focuses on the information your presenter is sharing, the flow and speed with which they talk, and how well they capture the vibe of the event and engage with the audience.

Don’t leave things up to chance. What can go wrong, will go wrong. The most successful virtual events invest in dry runs and take time to discuss concerns, make changes, and practice, practice, practice.

 

Failure to Share and Document your Event Does your Brand a Disservice

Digital event content management

Promoting your event ahead of time is important for any live event, but it’s especially crucial for virtual gatherings.

Let’s be truthful. Zoom fatigue is not a cliché. It is a real challenge that people everywhere are experiencing. With so many events taking place online – not to mention many companies shifting their employees to 24/7 remote work – your audience is likely bombarded with virtual meetings to attend.

Make your event stand out and engage with your audience by promoting the event on social media and other channels leading up to the day. Use video, social polls, and a variety of engagement tactics to build intrigue and give your audience a taste of what’s to come. Once the event starts, share a hashtag that audience members can use to document their experience.

It’s a good idea to fill another virtual event staffing role – a content manager. He or she will be at the ready to capture quotes, audience comments, and other content to be used for future messaging.

Using the Wrong Platform Undermines the Experience

Video conferencing platforms are a major part of the virtual events equation in this new normal. But that doesn’t mean they are all created equal. Many of the virtual events that fall flat do so because the platform used doesn’t meet the needs of the event.

The biggest mistake you can make when selecting a video platform is to choose the platform before designing your event. Determine your event structure and strategy before looking at the tools that are available, such as popular platforms like Zoom.

Make your decision based on the features you know you’ll need to make your virtual event a success. For example, does the platform need to be mobile optimized since most of your audience will attend from their phones? How many participants do you anticipate? Are you planning to use interactive features like chat, polling, screen sharing, and more?

Create a wish list that delivers for your ideal event and then use those criteria to select the platform that will best suit your needs.

 

Adapting to a Virtual Reality

Even in a post-lockdown world, the immediate future of live events is shaping up in large part to be virtual, and marketers are already hustling to meet the trend. In fact, 55% of digital event organizers plan to spend more on virtual events – not this year, but in 2021.

Recognizing new best practices is essential to help you reinvent your live events and adapt them to the digital world. And as you navigate these changes, take notes. The ways your audience responds and interacts with your digital events will continue to provide valuable insight – insight that will clearly be relevant for many months to come.

 

Executing a digital event is a challenge, but having professional virtual event staff for your digital events removes the burden from your team and dramatically improves the attendee experience. Contact us for a custom proposal so we can determine the perfect people solution for your brand!

Author: Kelly Springs-Kelley

Kelly Springs-Kelley is a marketing veteran who specializes in digital and experiential. When she's not creating compelling content or pondering the future of in-person consumer engagement, Kelly can be found hiking the mountains of Arizona with her 2 kids and 3 dogs.

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