With COVID-19 affecting the globe, many organizations are being forced to pivot to virtual ways of engaging their employees, stakeholders and the public. It has many wondering if virtual gatherings are now the new normal. One thing is sure: this crisis is making organizations rethink events and social gatherings, in ways that might very well last beyond the current context.
Brands and businesses must adapt to this new digital environment while continuing to align events with their business objectives. Film festivals offering online programming of their screenings to stay top-of-mind of their audience, or colleges and universities making virtual classes free during this time of crisis are good examples of how organizations can engage their audience in new ways through virtual gatherings.
Are you thinking of moving your event, conference or meeting into the digital world? Here is some advice to make it a success.
Details, details, details: To ensure that your digital event is as successful as your usual in-person events, careful planning is key. Do you need to have a French-language translation? How will speakers transition from one session to the other? Make sure that you also have a thorough schedule of your event. You should clearly communicate these details to both speakers and participants.
Check bandwidth: Checking your technical capacity is key to ensuring a smooth online event. Test your videoconferencing setup in advance to ensure that you’ll be able to deliver high-quality audio and video.
Choose the right platform: Consider your audience, their digital habits and the structure of your event to decide which platform will suit it best. You may want to send participants a guide on how to use the platform, depending on how tech savvy they are.
Pay attention to new and emerging digital platforms. As users are spending more time inside, and looking for more connection, existing platforms will be used in new ways, and new platforms will be created. A recent example is the rise of Instagram Live, as users are looking for and creating more content.
Reconsider duration: Making your event digital eliminates duration constraints. Whether it was an afternoon or full-day session, you can deploy content that lasts longer than your event. If your event was recorded and live-streamed, you can post it to your social channels later to make it accessible to other viewers.
Use social media: Align your social media tactics to achieve your event objectives. Using hashtags and live broadcasting are just some examples of how social media can create buzz about your event, and vice versa.
Integrate interactivity: Include ways for the audience to participate in the event and engage with the presenter. This can include a live question and answer period, surveys, Twitter chats, etc.
Rethink the way you present your content: Content is key in virtual meetings. Use a whiteboard to draw, show dynamic infographics, present a segment of a video or leverage your virtual guests to create interactive storytelling.
Make the event something to be remembered: Send digital packages with additional materials. Your event will have a longer life and stronger impact if you give your audience something to remember.
Leverage analytics: Analytics can provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of your virtual event. You will be able to understand which content was more engaging or more useful for your audience, and come up with data-driven recommendations for your next event.
Get feedback with a post-event survey: Virtual events allow for quicker responsiveness and even on-the-spot revision of your content. Poll attendees to understand better what worked and what didn’t. There is always room for improvement, and this qualitative data will be useful in fine-tuning your next event.
There’s a lot to consider when executing an online event. However, in these uncertain times, it will be important for businesses to pivot in order to succeed.
Our expertise allows us to guide you in the tactics you employ and your thought process while you adapt your business to this new normal. We are there to suggest the right tools to accomplish your business objectives and make sure they are considered when planning your virtual meetings. Contact our digital communications experts to learn more.
Need support? Our COVID-19 communications team comprised of crisis communications experts across Canada is ready to help organizations effectively communicate with their stakeholders.
——— Written by Guillaume Lajoie, Consultant, and Gabriella Taekema, former Coordinator, NATIONAL Public Relations