VIRTUAL AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT
It is time we talk about virtual audience engagement as there is a lot of unknown ground surrounding virtual events. From choosing a platform to re-enacting the in-person experience, planners have their plates full.
When it comes to virtual events, you are not just competing with attendees’ phones but you are now competing with the whole internet. So how do you go about putting a full-proof virtual audience engagement strategy? Read more to find out.
BEFORE THE EVENT
You have to remember to plan a virtual audience engagement strategy that includes steps to take before the event. You want your attendees to be hyped before the event and because you are competing for their attention, you need to focus your efforts on promoting your virtual experience.
Nurture your audience:
Don’t bombard people with too many emails, but also staying quiet won’t do any good either for audience engagement. Send out emails with relevant information to keep the hype alive, like who the speakers will be, what cool features there will be to make the event stand out.
Consider sending out physical badges and invites in the email, even though it is virtual, it doesn’t mean you can’t add some human touch.
Let there be #hype:
It is a plus to get your attendees communicating with each other before the event and with social media, promoting this connection will be your biggest strength. Why not create a unique hashtag for your virtual event so that the audience can follow on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Get super creative with it.
Hire the right speakers and coach them:
These are the shining stars of the event. You need to make sure you find the right speakers for your virtual event. If a speaker needs a physical audience to thrive, chances are they won’t do well speaking in a remote situation.
Content design matters more than anything:
When it comes to virtual audience engagement, the keyword is compelling. Every step of the way during the event, there’s a chance that people will walk out. Compelling strategies that lock the attention of attendees is a must. You need to be proactive with the content that will be presented. You will want to come up with interesting and fast-passed content given by a charismatic speaker.
Prepare for everything:
You want the quality of the audio and visual to be perfect. You want your attendees to have logistical information they need before the event. And of course, you want someone at their beck and call, ready to answer any questions they might have that involve technical support. Don’t wait for the day to make sure everything is perfect, do this beforehand and be prepared.
DURING THE EVENT
It’s finally time to get rocking and rolling! After you have created hype and have made sure all the technical aspects are covered, you can dive into the virtual audience engagement during the event.
Get everyone to check in:
Ask everyone to check-in virtually so that your remote audience like they are seen. Ask them their names, where they are joining or to give you a Facebook-style status update. Once you have these “virtual badges” make sure that your speakers acknowledge their presence with special shout-outs and a warm thank you.
Keep the conversation going:
Chances are you will need a moderator for the chat room.
This is the person that will go back-and-forth with the audience and answer any questions. It is the link between what is happening on your side and the attendee’s side. They have to stir up the pot and ask questions to create discussions. The speaker should also make the sessions as interactive as possible, make it short, compelling and keep the audience interested.
Give them time to breathe:
Accept that your virtual audience won’t behave the same as your in-person audience and you need to plan for this. You cannot expect remote audiences to participate in three-day-long conference with six hour sessions each day. Make sure you follow the schedule thoroughly and keep sessions to a maximum of 60 minutes and give people time to stretch and have coffee etc. Also consider that your attendees might just want a break from the sessions, but not from the event as a whole. Think about the possibility of creating private chat-rooms or virtual spaces where attendees can interact only with each other!
A great step to add to your virtual audience engagement strategy is gamification. And if there is a game or validation at the finish line, your attendees will probably love it. There are lots of games that you can play with your audience to keep them interacting. Bonus point is to only announce the winner at the end so that the people who participated want to return.
Don’t forget to monitor social media:
Keeping your channels alive during the event is a great idea. Plus it is a whole new way to engage with your audience during a break to let them know what has been happening- maybe they are curious enough to want to join in half way. Keep using the hashtag and encourage virtual attendees to post about their favourite part of the event so far. Screenshots, highlights, the most interesting discussions taking place in the chat-rooms, these all represent an amazing source of content to keep your social media channels alive.
AFTER THE EVENT
You did it! You put a virtual event together that your audience loved. People participated, chat-rooms were on fire and the attendance rate was great. But this does not mean your journey to seeking audience engagement is over, you will need to find out more to keep the hype of your virtual events alive.
Ask for feedback:
Whether you have had many events in the past or not, collecting feedback is always a must. You will want to know from their perspective, what went right and what went wrong. Did they find the content engaging? How did they like the speaker? Anything and everything they have to say is valuable so you can consistently improve. Offer some sort of reward for people after they fill out your survey as people aren’t super keen on answering questions
This is where you can kill two birds with one stone by keeping the spirit alive and enticing more people to enjoy the experience even if it’s not live. You can even make the recording available on social media platforms. This way if people missed it or want to go back to it, they have it at their disposal whenever they want.
And so we reach the end. If you have any questions about getting started on your next virtual event, contact The Solutions Group Events :
+27 11 706 3242 Stephanie@solutionsgroup.co.za
Content per helloendless.com