Thanks to a certain pandemic, we’ve all been forced to adjust to virtual events. Zoom meetings, online conferences and webinars, even social events shifted online with little warning. Although in-person meetings are starting up again in some parts of the world, the virtual event won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
That’s because being online has benefits (beyond not risking catching the virus). Over the last few months, business owners have seen the upsides of running online events – less planning and lead time, better accessibility, and the ability to track and follow up with participants. And people have never been more comfortable with online content – research shows that 38% of people are watching more online video than they did pre-COVID.
With many still in lockdown or simply working from home, why not lean into virtual events and make them just as useful as the real thing? Here's how:
Zoom webinars aren’t for everyone. Figure out where your audience is most comfortable, and run your events on that platform. That could mean an Instagram live Q&A, a Facebook Livestream or a more formal virtual conference. Even better, get across multiple channels by sharing recordings of your event on your Facebook page, Twitter or LinkedIn. Having the right tool to understand where your audience is will help - we love the Zavy Pulse dashboard, which shows how your posts perform across social channels and what type on content resonates with your audience over time. From this, you'll be able to see which platform is the best for your virtual event - and the best places to promote it.
In-person events need a venue, a menu, invitations or promotions – it’s not something you can always pull together at the last minute. Virtual events don’t have the same limitations, so it’s possible to cover up-to-the-minute content and respond to current conversations in your industry.
Our research shows that engaging with important cultural moments as they happen is the best way to drive business growth through social media.
This is where Radar comes in handy – by tracking and analysing a huge volume of social media posts, comments and other online content, it offers insight into what people are talking about, in real-time (like a cross between a media monitor and social listening tool). By tapping into that data, you can work out what’s most interesting to your audience and develop virtual events to fit.
Virtual events are far easier to track than real-world versions. You can look at who registers interest versus who actually shows up. You can track conversions from emails, Facebook posts and other marketing efforts. You can see who sits through the whole thing – and who drops out after a few minutes. As ever, it's about social reach and engagement. And it’s all valuable information about who is interested in your brand – and who would be receptive to more content.
With that insight, you can customise follow-up content for different segments of your audience. Send the recording of the event to no-shows in the hope that they’re still interested. Send extra information and a call to action to people who dropped out early – they may still be interested in your product or service, if not the content of your event.
Attendants who view the entire event are likely the most engaged, so they deserve a personalised follow-up – whether that means an email with a special offer or a phone call to gauge interest. It’s about turning data into real-world connections with your customers.
COVID may have put a serious dampener on your business, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of events or customer engagement. Virtual events can be just as effective as real-world versions – in some cases, even more so.
You can be hyper-relevant, share content beyond the original event, reach customers where they are, and track engagement throughout the process. We may have been forced to adapt to virtual events, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of our new reality.
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