Virtual Events

You’ve Decided to Convert to a Digital Event. Now It’s Time to Engage Your Community.

By Bob Birdsong

So coronavirus (COVID-19) has driven you to convert your in-person event to a digital event, and you may be feeling overwhelmed with how to reset your event strategy. As with most event-related actions, start with community engagement.

Communicating a major event change is paramount to successfully navigating that change. The rogue wave of a coronavirus pandemic can capsize your event, but it doesn’t have to. With speed, volume and great care, you can navigate this wave successfully.

Your registrants were prepared for a physical event, but now that you’re going virtual, preparing them for the change is key. “Virtual” is simply a change in venue, and that means all of the other elements that go into a successful event -- especially communication -- remain vital.

Going from In-Person to Virtual: Digital Event Checklist

Use the following physical-to-virtual event conversion checklist for optimal engagement navigation:

Initial Actions

  • Expand your customer service team to respond to requests for help. Don’t underestimate how much assistance your attendees might need getting connected.
  • Create “how to” documents that list the hardware and connectivity requirements for your online event, in the simplest terms possible.
  • Establish an event hashtag, if you haven’t already, and use it in all of your marketing messages. An effective hashtag will help you get information to your audience and receive it as well.
  • Consider your sponsors. If you had event sponsors, how can your digital event plan offer them an equitable amount of exposure to your online audience?
  • Update your website. Landing pages are an effective way to communicate laser-specific messages, but plenty of people will just head straight to your website to see if your event is still happening. Don’t make it difficult for people to find the answer if they come knocking on your digital front door.

Ongoing Actions

  • Use email automation to ensure that your audience gets the message that your event is going virtual. Create an email schedule that reaches out often.
  • Ask registrants to re-confirm their RSVP so that you know that they know the venue has changed.
  • Use a revolving schedule of social posts to spread the word of your venue change. This is effective in engaging existing registrants as well as attracting new ones, who might find a virtual event more appealing for a variety of reasons.
  • Carefully monitor social media and email to identify lapses in communication before they bloom into major problems.

Actions That Will Set Your Virtual Event Apart

  • For conference-level multi-event gatherings, help people find the presentations and virtual gatherings that match their interests through filters and fine-tuned search tools. Test your search function well to ensure it works intuitively.
  • Allow attendees to create their own personal schedule of events, which will generate an agenda and built-in reminders.
  • Use multi-media teasers like video and animations to promote the new format. Naturally there will be some disappointment about not gathering in person, so create an atmosphere of fun to reassure attendees that your event will be worthwhile.
  • Use a countdown clock to generate excitement around the opening session or kick-off of your event. Allow people to opt in to text reminders that you can use to increase anticipation.

We said it before, but it bears repeating: You cannot over-communicate that you are changing from an in-person event to a digital event in a virtual venue. You may feel like your communications are bordering on obnoxious, but repetition is the first rule of effective communication. Use every tool at your disposal. Among the worst things an event marketer wants to hear are these three words: “I hadn’t heard.” Make sure they hear.

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Select the Digital Event Marketing Software that Automates Your Checklist

Localist is a virtual event marketing software platform that simplifies event planning and promotion, keeping your community informed and engaged with dedicated landing pages, automated social media posts and emails, and seamless integration with your other marketing tools, including all the most popular streaming services, like Zoom and GoToWebinar. Request a demo of Localist to see how can help you engage your community as you navigate the transition to virtual events.

Localist is your complete virtual event solution

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