Drawing on experience from hosting over 100 virtual events, Flock Eventing Platform offers three insights into what determines the success of any virtual event.

Step 1: Ask the right questions during the planning stage

Mike Lysko, Founder & CEO of Flock

“No matter the size of your virtual event, having a strategy is key to its overall success. When putting together a strategy for your virtual event start by establishing the concept and goal, as these will be the foundation on which your strategy is built,” says Mike Lysko, Founder and CEO of Flock.

“No matter the size of your virtual event, having a strategy is key to its overall success.”

Questions to ask include:

  • Will your event be live or pre-recorded?
  • Define the time, date, and duration of your event.
  • Will your event be free or paid, and does it require registration?
  • What channels will you use to promote your event?
  • What KPIs and data do you plan to track?

Remember, you need to be able to justify the answers to each of these questions in a way that supports your overall concept and goal.

For example, an online educational workshop should probably be live for real-time questions and answers, and greater engagement, whereas the keynote address for a virtual symposium could work well pre-recorded – with a live segment at the end for questions if this is appropriate.

A free event is more likely to get a higher attendance, which could be your strategy to generate leads for your business. But if your content is in demand with your target audience, and you are looking to create a more premium event experience, paid for ticketing will probably make more sense.

Step 2: Promote, promote, promote

Digital marketing is a logical choice to promote your virtual event during lockdown, and there are many great avenues you can pursue, such as your website, newsletters and social media. Most of these are free-to-use or have a nominal cost. If you have some budget, paid-for advertising opportunities can also give you an added boost – and the rates are hugely competitive right now.

Lysko recommends that you have a dedicated social media coordinator who can regularly promote your event with both live and scheduled posts. This needs to be done before, during and after your event, in order to gain attendees, engage existing attendees and let those who didn’t attend get a taste of what they missed out on so they’ll be at your next event.

Don’t forget to ask your guest speakers and sponsors to share your event details with their audiences, and to encourage your attendees to talk about and tag your event. This can amplify your message greatly.

Step 3: Keep your attendees engaged

Engagement is the Holy Grail of virtual events, and we all know from personal experience that attending a virtual event where you don’t feel engaged means you’ll probably start checking your emails and phone. Which means you’ll essentially leave the event – even if it’s playing in the background.

Engagement is the Holy Grail of virtual events.

Lysko suggests the following three tactics to promote engagement:

  • Be engaged with your audience. For example, if there is a live chat function, make sure you have someone who is monitoring this and can respond swiftly. If attendees are struggling with something, address it. If you sense there is more interest in a particular topic, dig deeper into it and limit the time spent on a less popular one. Try to be flexible and responsive.
  • Use the interactive tools that most online platforms offer. For example, run polls, encourage questions, ask your attendees to use the chat function, or the applause or raise hand button to show their love. Bonus points for being novel and creative!
  • Thirdly and finally, offer incentives to motivate the behaviours you want from your attendees. This can come in the form of competitions and prizes, or offering discounts. But it can also be much simpler, such as personally identifying and recognising people during the event for their support, suggestions or questions. Being ‘seen’ like this can be a reward in its own right for many people.