This article contains ten tips for planning, running, and wrapping up a successful virtual or hybrid event.
The first step in your event planning process should be to set goals and decide how you will measure success. Some of your event goals could be:
- Grow your social media following
- Generate email newsletter sign-ups
- Receive press coverage in print, online, or television media
- Increase enrollments in membership programs
- Generating leads
- Close sales
Make your goals specific and measurable. For example, if you want to increase brand awareness via your company’s social media channels, a specific goal could be to reach a certain follower milestone, such as 10,000 Instagram followers. To achieve this goal, you can include links to your social media throughout the virtual event space in sessions, the Networking Lounge, and on the event home page.
Once you know what your goals are, make sure you understand the tool you will use to achieve them. Get to know the Social27 Events Platform by joining calls with your Social27 CSM and exploring the platform. Your CSM can give you access to a demo event that will help you brainstorm how you can leverage all of Social27’s features to make your event most effective.
Remember, don’t try to make your virtual/hybrid event the same as a live event. Attendee engagement, session attendance, and sponsor interactions will be different. Understand what the virtual/hybrid environment allows—and what it doesn’t.
Sponsors can help you generate more revenue or offset the cost of the event, and the earlier you engage sponsors, the more likely it is that you can transform them into partners who can help tell your story and make your event a success.
In the Social27 platform, sponsorship opportunities are more bountiful than you would think. Sponsors can:
- Create virtual sponsor booths that will enable them to connect with attendees and promote their products or services
- Sponsor sessions and position themselves as thought leaders within their industry
- Sponsor meetings to connect with smaller groups of attendees
- Showcase their organization through sponsor banners on session interstitial slides
- Offer prizes and badges through Social27’s gamification
Check out our Sponsor Microsite Build Checklist to help your sponsors ensure that their booths are complete and ready for the event.
Just like at an in-person event, your event space should be designed thoughtfully. However, instead of a physical space, your canvas is your digital event site. Your event pages should all work together to tell your brand story, from the images you use, to the colors you choose. Keep your design simple – only a few fonts and colors. The Social27 team can assist you with these design choices, but make sure you also get feedback from your colleagues; fresh eyes can give you a fresh perspective.
In the end, remember that you are designing an experience for your attendees. You want to tell a great story throughout your event pages that attendees should take away when they log out of your event.
Content is the cornerstone of your event. If the content isn’t great, you won’t keep your attendees engaged. People lose focus during lackluster in-person speeches and activities, and it’s even easier to get distracted when you’re attending an event from the comfort of your own home. You don’t want attendees dropping off to go scroll through TikTok or fold the laundry they’ve been putting off. You want them actively engaged with your content.
While you may or may not be personally creating content, you will help curate the content of your speakers and sponsors. Encourage them to leverage pre-event content by recording short videos that attendees can watch to learn about speakers and introductory topics before sessions.
Great. You’ve set your event goals, learned how to use your tools, engaged sponsors, and started creating your event pages and content. You’re ready to think about scheduling your sessions. Because this is a virtual or hybrid event, people need less time to jump from session to session than they would at an in-person, right? Wrong.
A virtual experience requires more time than you would think. In a remote environment, people aren’t just attending your event. They’re managing kids, answering emails, taking bathroom breaks. Schedule a minimum of 15 minutes between sessions to give them time to regroup before moving on to the next session. Additionally, break up video content into smaller segments and make sure attendees have free time to explore the event on their own (visit sponsor booths, check out the Networking Lounge, schedule meetings with other attendees).
Most important of all: Don’t expect attendees to sit in front of their computer for 10 hours. Be kind to your attendees and schedule times for them to take a break from their screens!
No event is going to run perfectly, so it’s vital to have a plan in case you run into any tech issues. Make note of who to contact throughout the event if you need tech support. Talk with your CSMs before the event to get a list of troubleshooting tips and tricks.
Contacting Social27’s technical support should be your first action if you run into any problems you can’t remediate yourself!
Additionally, our Help Center is a treasure trove of platform guides and tech support resources, but here’s some helpful links you can share with your speakers and sponsors before the event:
- Session Player System Requirements and Troubleshooting Tips
- How Do I Update the Event’s Time Zone Display?
- How Do I Solve Problems with Resources Failing to Download?
- Speaker Guidelines: Event Day Overview
- Moderator Guidelines: Event Day Overview
As mentioned previously, a virtual or hybrid event is different from an in-person event, especially when it comes to attendee engagement. When your attendees are physically separated, it’s easy to forget that there are other humans behind other screens, all attending the same event. To encourage engagement between your attendees, facilitate human connection.
Encourage your speakers to be more casual and meet the attendees on the same level. They can bring attendees into their homes by not using backgrounds or backdrops, by wearing comfy sweaters instead of ties.
You can also encourage connections and engagement by recruiting your event planning team to leverage Social27’s networking tools. Request that your team connect with event attendees, attend Happy Hours in the Networking Lounge, and participate in chats, Moderated Q&A, and polls.
There isn’t a way to over-communicate with attendees. If you are talking and communicating with your attendees, engagement with the event will increase.
Use Social27’s broadcast notifications to encourage attendees to join sessions, Happy Hours, or prize giveaways. You can tailor these notifications to be relevant to your specific event, as well as give specific instructions to encourage engagement. For example, you could ask for attendee responses to a certain session with this notification: Head over to the Networking Lounge to record a soapbox video responding to Session ABC.
Let your speakers and sponsors know that they can create polls in their sessions and sponsor booths to engage attendees. Speakers and moderators can also post announcements in their session chats to communicate important information to attendees.
Most importantly, keep your communication consistent across all communication channels. For example, if you want your attendees to update their profiles after they log in for the first time, communicate this in multiple ways:
- Add a note to your registration confirmation email.
- Customize the language on the Personalization/AOI page.
- Create a reminder message on the event’s Home page.
- Ask your speakers to communicate this request during their first session.
- Send out a broadcast notification.
Throughout the event, and especially once it’s over, check out the Analytics Dashboards to find data about your event. These reports will not only give you event registration information, but also data related to session attendance, sponsor booth visitation, networking participation and so much more.
You can use insights gained from these reports to make your next event even more effective than your first.