Are you scratching your head as to how you can reach your audience and host events in a time when no one is allowed to actually gather for events? Even if you are self isolating, you’re not alone on this.
There are lots of brands and companies that are trying to figure out how they can engage their audiences and teams online during this time of social distancing. Thankfully, in this age of Hi-Tech communication, there are many platforms and tools you can use to make this possible.
There are no shortage of memes about people using video conferencing apps for business meetings (and the difference in personal appearance regarding the voice and video features). Yet amongst the comedy, there lies true testimonial to the huge popularity of these tools. In fact most platforms are encouraging it by offering a free trial or removing restrictions on time and user limits.
Though it may be awhile before you get to shake hands at a live event again, there are many different options for the types of online events your business can offer customers right now. Regardless of what types of virtual events you hold, there are a few things you should know about how to make them a success…
Best Practices Of How To Host A Successful Online Event
First off, make sure that you have an endgame in mind. What’s the point of creating the event? Is it to interact with clients to build trust, sell something, or grow organically by offering useful content? Know what you would like to achieve and have a strategy to structure the event around it.
Things to consider are, who will be invited and will they need to register to gain access? Will it be free or will you charge admission to attend? What is your plan for promoting the event? You don’t want to forget to let people know about it.
Is the event going to be recorded and if so, will it be accessible to people at a later date or time? Is there any particular information or data that you will be tracking or collecting?
Once you have an outline of the strategy, filling in the details will be a lot easier. Having this in place will make hosting run a lot smoother.
Planning and Promotion For Successful Online Hosting
Next is the where and when… What time are you going to host your online event? If there will be attendees from different locations, what time zone? You want to make sure that your delivery method for the link to your event clearly states these particulars.
You also need to decide on which platform you’re going to to be hosting. Factors like length may be a qualifier, as each application has its own restrictions. Also take into consideration any user capacity limitations, if it requires both audio and video, and if it supports viewer interaction. Options like Discord and Zoom allow participants to speak directly or contribute via chat.
Advertising your business event could be as direct as emails, or as broad as paid ads. While organic promotion may have a more personal feel, investing in advertisements could result in a larger reach. It all depends on the type of function you’re hosting and your goals.
Don’t forget that if your event requires an attendance fee, you will also need to figure out which program you will use to collect payment.
Online Hosting Can Mean Internet Trouble – Have A Backup
Virtual events are subject to any number of technical hangups. As with all technology, it’s always best to have a backup just in case things come to a crashing halt.
Increased user volume can slow platform performance or even cause malfunctions. Think of a secondary delivery method for the content if attendees are unable to connect or if transmission is broken.
Always make sure to do a dry run and test everything possible, prior to the main event. If you have guest speakers, have them do the same. If something is not compatible, you want to discover it in enough time to be able to make corrections.
Now that you know what considerations will make your online event a virtual victory, there’s only one thing left to decide – What type of event is your business going to host?
Here are ten suggestions to help you on your way.
#1 – Live Streaming
Moving events to the internet can give you a much wider reach than would have been possible even in person. Live virtual events can span countries and continents including people that travel would have otherwise prevented from attending. Live streams are utilized for everything from social gathering to tours and presentations to tutorials.
Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter all offer this option. LinkedIn has the capability, but the feature requires an application process and is not openly available to all users. You’ll have to check the specific functions of each program to decide on the best fit for your event.
The real-time aspect of a live stream gives your event an authenticity that a pre-recorded feature may lack. However, there should be just as much strategy and planning (if not more) that goes into a live broadcast. After all, there are no edits or second takes. So though you may not have a script, be sure to outline what you will discuss to avoid losing focus or audience interest.
Q&As are becoming increasingly popular with live online events. Attendees get a chance to inquire about their personal concerns and have their opinions heard. The transparency to invite and respond to questions can be the first step to building trust between your business and your audience.
It’s an important first step in the buyer’s journey. When customers feel like they can trust you they are more likely to follow your media activity, buy your product and recommend you to others. Seeing and hearing key company figures as they present material, gives customers a sense of connection they won’t get from simply reading about it.
#2 – Live Podcasts
A live podcast enables you to duplicate the genuine feeling you get from radio. There is still room for error, but this incorporates a more imperfect humanity to the broadcast. This might be a better option when there are no particularly interesting visuals involved.
The freedom and versatility of being able to simply listen to your event may broaden the appeal for those who want to attend, but cannot devote their full attention to a visual format (like people who are driving).
If your business has a smaller budget, this is a more economical option than having to pay for high-quality video production. But planning is just as important as with visual engagements. Without anything except audio to captivate your audience, timing is key for both you and any guest speakers. Technological troubles can have listeners quickly looking elsewhere.
#3 – Music Performances
Whether audio, visual, or a combination, everybody loves a good show. Recent gathering restrictions have people everywhere longing for live entertainment events. A well orchestrated virtual performance can be a much welcomed replacement.
Even if your brand or business can’t supply the actual talent, hosting or sponsoring an online music event will still provide exposure and build trust.
#4 – Contests
Who doesn’t love a good contest? A chance to win. Maybe a prize. Or even just a thrill of competition. Whatever draws you in, they are a great way to gain a following.
The more creative the contest, the stronger the potential for positive branding association. Another great business tip is to store all the entries as a part of your CMR for email follow-ups. It’s a great way to put a little personal branding on a, “Thank you for playing.”
Contests can even be used as a form of online engagement to fundraise for nonprofit organizations. Adapting this method into a type of ‘challenge to reach the goal’ appeals to the competitive nature of your audience while never losing focus on the heart of the cause.
#5 – Meditation and Guided Exercise
Are you in the wellness industry? With gyms and wellness centers closed for the duration, people are looking for alternative ways to care for mind, body and soul. An online meditation event or guided exercise could be just what they need to practice a little self care from home.
This virtual outreach is a way to engage people where they are. Even if customers are not able to access your business right now, they will remember your brand as the one who cared enough to reach out and provide resources in a time of change.
This type of emotional marketing can be priceless when it comes to brand loyalty. Wouldn’t you want to pay it forward and help the business who reached out in your time of need?
#6 – Readings
Audio books are a popular option for many who don’t enjoy reading or don’t have access to printed materials. But not all titles are available in this format. Hosting an online reading is one way to lend a hand – or voice – to those that want to intake information.The books you don’t read won’t help. - Jim Rohn Click To Tweet
There are many strategies behind hosting a reading as an online event. If you have a book to sell, or are promoting one as a free lead magnet, hearing a portion of it read directly from the author can peak interest.
It doesn’t necessarily have to pertain directly to your business or industry. It’s more about the personal engagement that people derive from listening to another person’s voice. Sometimes the why is just as important as the what.
If you’d like to offer a gesture of trust to gain brand exposure, you could consider reading an entertainment title. Inviting families to the reading of a children’s book can build rapport for household brands. You could encourage assisted living facilities to showcase the reading of an old favorite, it may win the hearts of an elderly audience.
If you find yourself short on time, you could always consider giving an overview of a particular title. Which brings us to…
#7 – Reviews and Commentaries
With all the content available, there can be a shortage of time to take it all in. Reviews can be very helpful in delivering the main points in a condensed amount of time. (Kind of like a CliffsNotes for life.)
Reviews and commentaries are extremely versatile as far as which platforms can be used and which topics can be covered. Reviews can be done on products, services, or for entertainment purposes. Commentaries can cover other online events, public business meetings, and forums. Audio and / or visual can be integrated… the combinations are endless.
#8 – Interviews
Since clients can’t attend concerts, conferences, or television filmings, they are missing their favorite mentors and celebrities. What if you were the one to bring the people what they want?
Hosting an online interview with a relative and relatable authority can put your brand’s name in lights. You can interview guests via live streams, podcasts, and webinars. Just imagine the significance of your business being the name to provide a one-on-one interaction.
#9 – Lectures, Classes, and Tutorials
Do you remember the last time you didn’t know how to complete that DIY project you were attempting? Where did you go when you got stuck? Countless instructionals and how-to’s can be found on YouTube and other popular platforms.
It doesn’t just have to be about home repair. Offering a class, lecture or tutorial on any topic can build engagement and your company’s authority positioning.
People look to digital classes as a way to quickly acquire knowledge without the hassles of scheduling or commute. Whether it’s live or pre-recorded, it’s convenient by virtue of being easily accessible.
Webinars are a popular delivery system for this type of material. They offer both audio and visual presentation, as well as the option for attendee participation.
This content can be used on it’s own or offered as a free lead magnet to a funnel for a larger paid event later. A short how-to tutorial on the best ways to formulate investment diversity could be just what your real estate business needs to gather interest for an upcoming webinar.
#10 – Counseling, Coaching and Consultant Calls
Calling all experts! Businesses need help pivoting and you might be just the person to coach them through it. People need counseling in business and in life. You might be just the person they need to talk to in order to get through the rough patches or the unknowns.
Consulting is a way to make yourself, your business, and your brand stand out as a subject expert. It’s also a way to provide a results-driven service and get paid accordingly.No expert was born an expert. - Mokokoma Mokhonoana Click To Tweet
Many virtual spaces are available which offer tools that make consulting personal and state of the art. Screen sharing, white board features, and multiple-user functions provide all of the commodities of an office space without the overhead.
Why You Should Be Hosting Online Events
So now that you know how to host a successful virtual gathering and have some suggestions of what types of events to hold, you may be wondering, Why?
Hosting an online event is an excellent way to improve your business’ social media presence. You are able to engage with clients and customers directly on the apps and platforms that they are already using.
Almost any form of business that once required human interaction can now be conducted via the Internet. There are tools for everything from giving presentations and design collaboration to signing and sending legal documents.
The lack of physical presence is no longer a valid excuse for letting your business or brand stand idol during these changing times. There are plenty of online options that will enable your company to change right along with them.
Consider the cost if you don’t? Remember some of the token companies that didn’t take advantage of new technology? Nope, no one does.
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