Even blindfolding all the shocks that the world has faced recently, it is foolish to deny the fact that virtualization and digitalization tempo are breaking new records every day. This directly applies to businesses of any sort. In a situation where the virtual image of a company or product and its positioning matter more than the actual value company or product brings, virtual events are gaining more and more weight.
When we add global shocks like the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown to the equation, it becomes clear that the business which focuses on creating and attracting new customers, employees, sales, and strengthening branding through various kinds of virtual events is moving in the right direction. Nevertheless, despite the fact that at first glance it may seem that this state of affairs makes life easier for the business, this is not at all the case. Yes, organizing an event online is much easier. But achieving the same audience engagement, attention, and ROI as in the case of an offline event is really hard. We decided that now is the best time to talk about what virtual event ideas and techniques can be applied in order to increase the engagement of your audience and potential customers.
Give the choice to your audience
Choice always sets up the audience in a more positive way, as they get the feeling that the content you offer will be more personalized and better suited to their needs. Sometimes this is true, and sometimes the choice can be predetermined and exist only formally. In any case, giving your audience a choice about what the upcoming virtual event will be about, what topics will be covered, and what is worth discussing is always a desirable action to increase your audience’s engagement.
You can provide a choice through live polls before the event. Ideally, your audience choice should be as close as possible to what you already intended to show. This way, your audience will receive exactly the content they expect, which will benefit them more and increase your chances of a successful ROI. Finally, by voting for the content and receiving it as a result, the audience will be more attuned to visit your virtual event, because their vote was taken into account.
The size of the options allowed for voting is inversely proportional to the size of your audience. So, if you expect a small number of visitors, then you can provide a large number of options to choose from. If the audience is large, then it is worth reducing the number of options to a few basic ones.
Consider adding additional content both on- and offline
The virtual event itself and the discussion, of course, should remain the main course, but you should not be limited only to this. Additional content will always generate approval and more engagement from your audience.
Additional content can be both online and offline. In the second case, it can be any booklets and thematic things related to the upcoming discussion, for example, cups in which each participant can make tea for himself. In addition, it is worth considering any items that can be used in the future during the virtual event. For additional content online, consider creating thematic presentations, short commercials that entice the audience, or reveal any additional information. Such videos can also be made in the form of a quiz, thereby adding a certain game element. We will talk about it in more detail in the next paragraph.
Content that is engaging and playful will always increase your audience engagement. In the case of offline events, it can have the form of sponsored expositions in front of the main hall where the event will take place. However, some offline platforms also allow you to do something similar. Thus, visitors to your virtual event will be able to visit several virtual rooms with sponsored expositions for a certain time before the start. A game element should be added here, such as creating a cumulative system of points that participants will receive for visits and actions in virtual rooms. At the end, the visitor with the most points will be able to claim any prize.
Sponsors themselves can be involved in such interaction so that they interact with the audience. This will increase the engagement of both your audience and your stakeholders.
In addition to cases related to sponsors, you can also consider similar techniques directly during the virtual event. So, if you have any polls or the opportunity to ask questions from the audience, add a cumulative points system that will take into account the questions asked, their quality and the stability of participation in voting. Knowing that the most active participant in the voting will receive a prize, your audience will follow the virtual event more closely, since the survey will directly relate to the agreed topic. This increases the engagement of your audience.
Make use of social networks
Each virtual event is a cool matter, the question is what scale it is. However, people who have taken part in a quality virtual event will want to share it on their social media profiles. Use this. Your event must have a hashtag, the results of votes and other things must be relayed to social networks, and visitors must be able to share all this information with their subscribers.
In addition, consider the possibility of holding any kind of competition among your audience specifically on social networks. So, you will again increase the level of engagement and create additional advertising for your event. For example, arrange a photography contest “Where am I while I take part in a virtual event?” The most original or coolest photo will win. After all, social media have endless opportunities for branding and advertising, so they need to be exploited.
Interaction between your virtual event attendees is a key element in their engagement. Don’t expect a lot of engagement if you haven’t provided your visitors with an opportunity to interact with each other, rate the questions asked, and ask each other. On the other hand, such opportunities will significantly increase the level of engagement, as people often like to interact with each other at such events.
Let users choose what happens next
This is somewhat related to the polls that we talked about in the first paragraph, but this is a completely different level. Remember the Netflix film, where the audience was asked to choose what would happen next and what decision the character should make, from which the film had a lot of endings? You can apply this same technique for your event.
The main problem here is that:
- The specifics of your event may not imply such a possibility
- There may be people among the audience who are not suitable for this style of interaction
However, it is one of the most powerful tools for increasing engagement rates.
Finally, we would like to share some ideas regarding the engagement technique, which will be used after the end of the virtual event. Yes, gifts to all participants who passed the event with you from start to finish are not something necessary. Nevertheless, you expect to hold more than one of this event, right? In case you want to increase the percentage of returning atendees for your next event, gifts after the end of the current event are just the perfect method.
The main thing is to focus on making them thematic. Gifts should have corporate colors and remind the visitor of how they had a good time on your event. It is also a good idea to add a QR code, by scanning which, the visitor will be able to get to the landing page where all the photos and all the information that was discussed at the event will be stored. In short, the limit here is only your imagination and that is precisely why giveaways are one of the best virtual event ideas.
The Bottom Line
There is no doubt that our society is in full swing towards the fact that virtual events would completely replace offline meetings, and this is normal. In view of this, one should expect a serious increase in interest in this issue. Soon we will see more and more types of virtual events, in which various techniques of audience engagement will be applied. Therefore, as a bonus, 8th tip, we say: watch your competitors.