Essential Tools for a Successful Event
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Even if you’re a tech-savvy person, organizing a virtual event for the first time may seem like a scary mission. The mere idea of doing everything online from start to finish makes you anxious. You probably fear that it just won’t be as successful as an on-site gathering. However, for tech problems come tech solutions.
Despite what some people think, virtual events have been part of the market for a long time. So much so that today more than ever, we can easily find many tools and resources designed specifically to make the whole process much easier for companies and individuals who aim at reaching a larger audience through these events.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you only need one click to make it all happen. (Wouldn’t that be amazing, though?) But you should definitely consider using the following tools if you want to have a smooth and successful experience.
1. Planning Tools
Just like on-site events, virtual events need you to plan ahead to determine the exact how, what, when, and where of your project.
Among the many things you’ll have to define is the type of event you want to host. For example, a conference won’t require the same resources as a product launch, a webinar, or a workshop, and vice versa.
So, even though some steps of the planning checklist will be the same for all events, knowing the peculiarities of your specific choice is a factor that will put everything into perspective and help you plan things accordingly.
Once you’ve decided, these planning tools might be helpful in different phases of your organizational process.
You’re probably already familiar with Google Calendar. This useful tool is used by thousands of leaders around the world to organize their personal and professional agendas. To make the most out of it, don’t just add your tasks randomly.
Instead, create different calendars with different names and colors to use it as a time-blocking method.
For example, you could use a specific day for a specific type of task, like networking, contacting sponsors, or marketing activities, and group them together under one calendar. This way, just by taking a glimpse at your calendar, you’ll see exactly what you have ahead of you and when.
Trello is your go-to software if you want to organize your plan by due dates and status. It gives you the possibility to create different boards where each board represents a project. You can then create several cards inside and each card can serve as a checklist for tasks that need to be done.
You can add other people to your boards and tag them in their appointed tasks, configure deadlines, notifications, attach files, and much more.
This is a program that will help you tackle different areas separately but parallelly in an efficient way. It gives you the possibility to customize your “workspace” with categories and subcategories and insert as many elements as you wish: documents, videos, audios, etc.
You can also configure the view and properties for each document for your own specific needs. The only downside is that the setup of your workspace can take you some time, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll see that it gives you a lot of freedom and flexibility.
2. Marketing Tools
Just because your event is held online doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put in the effort to promote it the same ways you would for an on-site one. Just the opposite, a successful virtual event needs all your attention to build a strong marketing strategy because word-of-mouth here isn’t as powerful as clicks and shares.
This is where social media comes in. With so many people connected and checking their social accounts daily, it would be a loss to not use this to your advantage. If you don’t know where to start, choose the three main social media platforms you most often use to interact with your audience, stick to them, and use them to their full potential. Here are the most common ones:
An image speaks a thousand words. Don’t hesitate to use visual material to keep your audience interested. You can share behind-the-scenes pictures with them, ask them to guess the theme of your virtual event by posting intriguing images, or transmit any important information in a very concise and compelling way.
Twitter and Facebook
If you’re going to use Twitter or Facebook (and you should), you need to focus on your added value, the strongest point of your event, and make it the highlight of your tweets and posts.
Do you have a special guest or an expert as one of your speakers? Does your event have a networking table for attendees to meet and exchange? Is your event free of charge? Don’t hesitate to communicate this information effectively using relevant hashtags and/or powerful images to catch the eyes of your audience.
Find your strengths and make them attractive to the public.
Not all companies have email lists of potential leads and clients, but if you’re one of those who communicate with their followers by email, this is the perfect time to use it to your advantage.
Whether you have a weekly newsletter, a blog, or a website, you can start an email campaign to promote your upcoming virtual event and introduce it to potential attendees. If your event isn’t free, a strategy would be to start your email campaign several weeks or months in advance and make special offers for pre-reservations or for inviting another person.
This approach will give your audience a sense of exclusivity and make the whole process more personal since you’re addressing them in their inbox and by name.
3. Event Hosting Tools
Probably the most important aspect of a successful virtual event is the hosting platform. As mentioned before, by now you should have an idea about the type of event you’ll be hosting.
You’ll find that there are different kinds of platforms depending on your necessities and the type of activity you want to include.
Social Media Live Streaming
If you want to go live on your virtual event, there are many options available for you. To give a conference, a talk, or a course, the most accessible platforms are the social media live streams themselves, like YouTube Live or Facebook Live.
There, you can schedule a premiere and publish videos or posts ahead of time to invite your audience. Once live, you can interact with the comments from your attendees as well as the chat rooms.
If you want a more formal approach, there are other programs to consider:
This is a virtual show trade platform where you can create a virtual booth, chat, and live stream without downloading anything. It’s accessible on browsers and offers social media integration and analytics.
This is a webinar platform that offers live as well as automated webinars, registration pages, and webinar replays. It’s also available without downloads and has integrations with some of the most common tools.
If you want a platform with a solution to most of your virtual events problems, you should take a look at HeySummit. From building a landing page to creating speaker dashboards or taking care of attendee registration, this program will make it possible for you to prepare your virtual events smoothly. The only downside is that you’ll have to integrate it with tools for live streaming as it doesn’t include them.
4. Engagement Tools
One of the most tricky issues in a virtual event is making sure to keep your audience engaged. As we’ve seen, engagement starts way before the event and this is what your marketing strategy should be all about.
However, we have to admit that keeping your audience’s attention all the way to the end of your virtual event is much harder than on-site. Online, if a person gets bored, they can just log out at any time and call it a day.
The best thing you can do here is prevention. Try to know what could make people lose their interest and what is more likely to keep them engaged all along.
You’ll probably find that there are two main reasons for people just logging out.
The first one is that they don’t understand exactly how to navigate the program (if you’re using a specific platform). In this case, it’s your role to share all the necessary information, guides, and instructions way before the day of the event.
You don’t want your audience to feel lost and waste 30 minutes trying to find something that you could have made easier for them to access. Try to make it as hassle free as possible.
On the other hand—and this is the second point—you should make it possible for your attendees to participate. Make sure to include a Q&A session to answer their questions and respond to their comments. If you don’t want to get distracted during your performance, you can appoint a moderator to gather questions so you can tackle them in a specific timeframe in your virtual event. You can also organize a poll and invite them to give their opinions or vote about a particular issue or topic.
5. Networking Tools
If choosing the platform is the biggest concern for the host, networking opportunities are often the biggest concern of attendees.
For that, there are many solutions you can provide. One of them is using a mobile event app that will make it possible for attendees to connect with each other.
For example, apps like Attendify, Presdo Match, and DoubleDutch are excellent options to consider.
With their messaging capabilities and matching parameters, this kind of app makes it easier for attendees to meet each other virtually and set up meetings.
As usual, you can also include social media in your networking strategy by creating a group specifically for your virtual event and inviting members to share their takeaways from the talks, pictures, and/or feedback.
With all that said, if you need additional support to make sure to have a successful virtual event, MVT can assist you in organizing and planning all these steps from start to finish. With our extensive experience managing remote teams and events, you’ll be sure to have all the boxes checked before you take the leap and go live.