Virtual events have gotten a lot of attention this year, obviously due to the pandemic. And, although 2021 is looking hopeful, virtual events, or a hybrid of virtual and live events, will be the norm for a while. So, as you begin to plan for your annual conferences or monthly chapter events, your association should consider adding a virtual component to your event strategy. In this second of our virtual event series, you’ll find 9 must-have tools for your next virtual event.
1. A designated event website.
While you may not have the means to create an entirely new website, you still should have a page on your website dedicated to your event. This page should explain the Who, What, Why, Where, and How of your event:
- Who you are (i.e. branding)
- What the event is about
- Why attend
- Where it’s taking place
- How to register
2. Event registration platform or CRM.
Your registration platform is the bridge between your event efforts and your attendees. Depending on the software you get, your customer relationship manager (CRM) helps you:
- Gather registrant data (name, email, job title, etc.)
- Understand how your registrants learned of your event (social media, email, website)
- Personalize the user experience
- Manage payments
3. Marketing/email campaign software.
How do you get people to learn of – and engage with – your event? Marketing, of course! Email software is a must-have for several reasons, but it’s basically your main way of communicating with prospects, registrants, and attendees. Use email for:
- The initial invite
- Reminder emails to non-registrants and registrants alike
- Updates to the event or other pertinent information
- Post-event surveys
4. Webinar software/platform.
Obviously, you need a way to bring the event to your attendees. This year especially, webinar platforms have been a vital instrument for communication within organizations, whether it’s a small team meeting or a large video conference. While there are many free platforms you can take advantage of, it is in your association’s best interest to buy a package, which will allow you to have unlimited attendees, additional functionality such as screen sharing and recording options, and reporting analytics. Some webinar platforms include:
5. Audiovisual (A/V) equipment.
Just as with an in-person event, audiovisual is a must for virtual events. High-quality equipment, such as cameras, microphones, and lighting, can set you apart from the competition, distinguishing your organization as a professional, expert leader in your industry.
6. Social media.
You might be wondering, what does social media have to do with a virtual event? You’d be surprised to learn that not all associations take advantage of this handy communication tool. But, with 3.8 billion people around the world using social media, they should.
Some ideas to promote your event on social media include:
- Create an event page on Facebook to provide details, post announcements, and answer questions.
- Tease relevant details in the days leading up to your event (speakers, topics, etc.).
- Create a hashtag for users to easily find all relevant information about your event across all your social channels.
- Design a custom filter for Snapchat or Instagram.
- Live tweet during your event.
7. High broadband wi-fi/ethernet connections.
There is nothing more frustrating than spotty wi-fi. Especially if you’re the host of a virtual event. Make sure that the host and speakers have strong, reliable wi-fi. It’s an even better idea to connect to a landline to ensure the optimal experience for your attendees.
8. Shared drive/cloud storage.
Put all your relevant files in one place for all team members to access. Unlike regular files, where only one individual owns, a shared drive – like the name suggests – lets you share files to edit across multiple people, from the event administrators to speakers to event partners. Google Drive, One Drive, and Dropbox are just a few of the many options out there.
9. Chat software.
When planning and executing a virtual event, you’re going to need access to answers quickly. Implementing chat software and establishing a channel-specific to your event allows all team members to contribute to the process, both effectively and efficiently. Some chat software includes:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Hangouts
No doubt about it, you can’t execute a virtual event without technology. Stansfeld has the expertise and partnerships necessary to deliver a successful online event. Check out our various virtual event packages and contact us today!