Should you cancel your upcoming event? Absolutely not! Instead of cancelling, transition your in-person event to a virtual event or a hybrid event.
Making the Most of your (Now) Virtual Annual Conference
Now that your in-person event has shifted to a virtual medium, it's time to figure out how you can make the most of your online event.
We like to think of virtual events as a premier of a large batch of original content. Some people will be there in-person, and virtual conferences allow you to cater to people who are better positioned to consume your content on-demand after your event ends. Jumbo offers the choice to leave content accessible on the Jumbo dashboard after a virtual conference for on-demand viewing.
Your attendees were probably looking forward to getting some face-to-face interaction with other people. All of those connections and networking could be extremely limited if you move your virtual event to a webinar platform like Zoom. Jumbo’s mission is to not recreate an in-person event. It is impossible to mimic the in-person connection that people will feel at a conference, so we say you shouldn't try to. Online events bring new opportunities and free a brand up to do features that were limited by traditional in-person conferences.
Both attendees and hosts have experienced the crazy rush of running from main stages to breakout rooms and back again. One benefit of having a conference online is the ability to take a few days full of content and spread that content out over a couple of weeks. A company is able to premier something new every night and grow a body of on-demand content that attendees can consume on their own time. Being able to focus an audience’s attention on a singular presentation a night will help every important detail shine through - and not get lost in the chaos.
With so many conferences going virtual, we are here to share some tips for success when hosting a virtual event.
Leave Room for Interaction
It is especially important for an event that usually is hosted in-person to schedule some time for attendees to chat with each other, meet sponsors, get access to exclusive content, and ask questions. With DIY platforms like Zoom, guests are limited to the “chat” or “Q&A” feature (not a good option to replace this meaningful interaction).
Look for a platform that offers breakout sessions, virtual meeting rooms, and virtual sponsor booths so that attendees can connect with you, others, and important vendors. Go beyond typical chat features. Many platforms offer better technology when it comes to interaction, and if you find yourself limited by the platform you currently use, it might be time to look into an all-inclusive platform and full-service studio so that your virtual conference can stand out from the online crowd.
Don’t be afraid to mix live presentations with pre-recorded presentations. Not only does pre-recording limit the amount of connectivity issues you could possibly have, it gives the presenter the chance to re-record sections until the presentation is perfect. We recommend hosting a live Q&A session after the recording, so that the presenter can still interact with virtual conference guests. This will also free the presenter up to answer chats and Q&A while the recording is playing to attendees, giving the attendees an experience that is actually more live and interactive than in person.
Support Your Sponsors
The sponsors for your virtual conference are supporting you, so make them feel supported too! With a virtual event, sponsors are missing out on the valuable face-to-face interaction that they would get at a conference booth. Giving sponsors and vendors more than just logo placement is key, and having analytics to give them is even more important.
Having a designated virtual space for sponsors can be a huge differentiation of your conference that hosting on a D.I.Y. platform can’t give. Look for a platform with a virtual sponsor booth option, so that your vendors can meet the important attendees and interact with them. Real-time analytics are a must so that you can track and report to sponsors how many people interacted with their booth.
Including your sponsors in pre-event communications is also a must. Let attendees get to know sponsors ahead of time with unique and personal videos posted on the conference’s Instagram page and on weekly attendee marketing emails. This also provides the opportunity to alert attendees on any special deals or promotions that a sponsor would be issuing during your conference - and drive even more incentive to participate in your virtual conference!
Marketing Your Conference
Making sure you have strong, consistent branding for your virtual conference is just as important as if you were hosting it in-person. Don’t be confined by a blue hosting platform that everyone has seen a hundred times. Look for a white-label platform so that you can keep your amazing branding consistent, even during the virtual conference live stream. You’ve worked hard to make it look good, it’s time to let it shine!
An in-platform email marketing tool will be helpful to promote your event and build hype. If you aren't used to email marketing - a drag-and-drop editor will help you craft a beautiful email that reflects your branding. You can distribute the email to everyone who registered for the event too, that is one benefit of using an all-inclusive virtual event platform.
If you want help with additional research, check out our article that breaks down some of the top D.I.Y. virtual event hosting platforms. Jumbo’s robust virtual event platform is the opportunity to market your virtual conference as more than just a boring livestream. We offer unique engagement tools such as polls and quizzes, multimedia question submissions, interactive sponsor booths, multiple event rooms, and more so that attendees feel like they are right there in that big conference hall networking and interacting with others. We might be biased, but a robust virtual conference platform like Jumbo is just what you need. Jumbo provides the flexibility to customize an event and maintain all of the key features that an in-person event has. From a white-labeled platform to email marketing tools, our team of dedicated experts will be with you every step of the way to make sure your virtual conference checks all of your boxes and goes off without a hitch.
Integrate with Social Media
Don’t stop the networking after your virtual event ends. Make sure all of your invitations, registration forms, or confirmation emails have links to your social media accounts. This will help keep the interaction and conversation going long after the laptops are powered down.
Consider making a unique hashtag for your virtual conference and encouraging guests to snap some selfies of them at-home attending. You can promote this hashtag so that other attendees can see who is out there streaming in. Host a giveaway to further encourage participation - anyone who posts a picture of their at-home streaming snack with your branded hashtag could win some free swag.
Making a separate Instagram for your virtual conference can be a huge opportunity to increase engagement. Build the hype for the big day by highlighting guest speakers, exclusive content that will be released, and important sponsors. Ask sponsors to provide short videos introducing themselves to make it more personal. Attendees love behind-the-scenes content too, so don’t be afraid to post pictures of the not-so-glamorous behind the scenes. Not only will it bring a touch of human connection that going virtual often lacks, but it will also let attendees get to know the hosts better.