One of the best upsides to virtual events is the ability to connect and engage with attendees before, during and after the event.
Digital engagement is an opportunity to deliver awesome content to attendees beyond the event duration. This means attendees get a great return on their ticket investment, and event planners can build a strong relationship with attendees.
However, a long-tail content and engagement strategy has to be interesting and interactive to keep attendees’ attention, especially in the virtual space. Let’s take a look at the mix of event engagement opportunities available throughout your event lifecycle:
Building excitement and anticipation before the event starts can have that ‘viral’ effect that means great word-of-mouth and positive attendee engagement before your virtual event doors open.
Generate pre-event buzz by dropping hints about exciting event features. The trick is to deliver just enough information to create excitement and anticipation, without giving too much away! Think about how movie trailers balance enticing detail with limited plot reveals, to attract and excite their audience.
Pre-event teaser ideas include:
a) Short video clips can be a great way to capture the energy and vibe of an upcoming event.
b) An event landing page with a list of clues to the identity of a very special guest speaker.
c) A series of social media graphics that hint at some surprise agenda items.
Ideally, a teaser campaign is exciting enough to spark a conversation across social media and in-person get togethers i.e. spread the word.
Spread the Word
Talking of which…getting your attendees and speakers to share content across social media will also help energise that buzz.
Create an event-specific hashtag and encourage event guests to share content (such as your brilliant teaser campaign) with their networks.
Generate custom social media tiles, such as ‘I am most looking forward to….’ or ‘My must-attend session is…’ attached to your hashtag to get people swapping notes, and even networking, before the event starts.
Once you get the conversation started, don’t be afraid to jump in and engage directly with attendees and speakers online. It can be as simple as telling people you’re excited they’ll be there and wishing them a great event to asking questions, and even polling.
Post a few fun polls to see what attendees are most excited about, or where they’ll be viewing the virtual event stream. If you have the resources, think about hosting a live stream Q&A session or simply a dedicated Twitter thread where guests can ask questions about the upcoming event.
Early Platform Access
CrowdComms’ virtual event platform can be made available for early access. Delivering pre-event access gives attendees the opportunity to fully explore the platform, agenda and interactive features before the excitement starts, meaning they can get the most from the platform throughout the event.
Early access also helps generate interest and excitement as attendees can view the full program and agenda. If you want to keep some surprises for the event itself, you can opt to keep relevant information hidden until the event opens.
2. During the Event:
During the event is where all the bulk of attendee engagement and interaction happens, and there are plenty of opportunities to maximise your attendees event experience.
Keep the Conversation Going
Once the event starts, it’s important to maintain the pre-event momentum. Keep the social media hash-tags humming. Post early highlights and key talking points to encourage conversation and constructive debate.
Virtual attendees can do a lot of watching, so it’s particularly important for screen-based audiences to have plenty of opportunity to interact and actively participate.
Break-out rooms are an excellent way to help mirror the in-person experience by creating dedicated virtual rooms for specific topic discussion and furthering individual connections. CrowdComms’ virtual platform supports multiple breakout rooms for unlimited number of people (although we recommend no more that 12-15 for an optimal experience).
Break-out rooms can also provide an opportunity for fun activities away from the main agenda. Companies such as Songdivision and BreakoutIQ run lively virtual sessions that are inclusive and fun for break-out groups and teams.
Ask the Audience
Want to create a two-way exchange between virtual speakers and their audience? Just like an in-person event, CrowdComms’ virtual platform supports real-time interactions and discussions through Live Polling and Q&A.
Moderate Q&A sessions, up-vote popular questions, create on-the-spot polling, and post-session surveys; there’s a range of features that ensure your audience actively participates and contributes to key discussions and debates.
Whether you want to incentivise session attendance, encourage sponsor engagement or build team connections, gaming is a fun and effective way to add some competitive energy to your virtual event.
Allocate virtual badges for a number of new connections made and create a real-time leaderboard to show who’s ahead of the pack. Or how about hiding ‘Easter eggs’ in your sessions and awarding prizes and accolades for engaged attendees who collect them all?
A key element for many attendees is the opportunity to network. Even if all or part of your audience is engaging remotely, they can still make meaningful connections with their online (and onsite) peers.
CrowdComms’ virtual platform features a range of options that make networking easy and effective. Private messaging, one-to-one chat channels, break-out rooms, and group chats provide attendees with a variety of ways to reach out and connect with others.
And watch this space for a brand NEW CrowdComms networking feature that will recreate the in-person networking experience online!
Harness the post-event energy to get valuable attendee feedback, deliver meaningful content and whet appetites for future events.
A huge benefit of virtual platforms, such as CrowdComms, is the ability to record event content and deliver access to attendees so they can re-watch favourite sessions or catch up on any elements they may have missed.
Content-on-demand not only provides attendees with an opportunity to revisit sessions, it also allows them to be fully present during the actual session. Attendees can engage with the live session content; confident they can revisit at a later date to take notes or return to key points.
Post-event recordings can also be made available to people who couldn’t attend the actual event, with organisers providing access on a paid or free basis.
Survey and Chat
Knowing your event success factors, attendees’ favourite features and areas for improvement are critical to future event planning. The best way to discover the information you need is by asking your attendees for feedback.
Post-event surveys help event organisers understand attendees’ event expectations and wish lists. They can be as long or as short as you like, and cover a broad range of topics or home-in on specific areas, such as catering, speaker selection or venue location.
Surveys also show your attendees that you care about their experience and value their feedback. Take this even further by communicating general survey data results and telling attendees what you plan to change or retain, based on their responses.
For more informal post-event interaction you can keep event chat channels and social media hashtags running for a few days after the event closes. Pose specific questions in a dedicated thread end encourage people to share their event highlights via message or video. You might get some great testimonials you can use for future event marketing (with the creator’s permission of course).
You might need a breather after wrapping up a busy event, but if you know the high-level details (e.g. date and location) for your next event, post-event is a great time to share them with your attendees.
If they’ve had a positive event experience, they’ll be keen to support future events and can mark their calendars and start the attendance planning process.
Connecting with attendees and delivering a meaningful experience can happen well in advance of the event start, long after the event closes, and of course, while the event is taking place.
Having a pre, during and post-event content and engagement strategy that utilises a mix of platforms, delivery mechanisms and software keeps the experience fresh and interesting for attendees throughout the event lifecycle.
Keen to engage your virtual event attendees and deliver great content before, during and after your event? Let’s chat.