What are the Online Events?
An online event is an event experience that allows people to interact over a web environment rather than meeting in person. Online events have become popular since the pandemic has compelled people to stay indoors and work remotely. During the onset of the pandemic, online events emerged as the beacon of light enabling people to stay connected, even in times of adversities.
The only difference between a physical event and an online event is the medium; rest, everything is the same. Similar to physical events, online events have an agenda, specific time and date, and a virtual venue, also known as online event platforms.
Online events are also known as virtual events, web events and digital events.
These events don’t have any special requirements; all you need to have is an efficient and high-performing online event platform.
How do Online Events Work?
As mentioned above, online event planning is easy and has simple requirements; all it needs is an online event platform. These platforms replicate live event experiences online and deliver them to the audiences with the help of the internet. If you have stable internet connectivity, a specific device (Laptop, Mobile, Desktop), and access to the online event hosting platform, you are good to go! You can host or join an online event from anywhere, and it is why people highly prefer online events over other formats.
Since virtual events have become excessively popular, markets have seen a surge in the number of customizable event platforms. All these platforms come with their own sets of advantages and limitations; However, depending on the needs and requirements, the organizers can pick the platform of their choice.
What is an online event platform?
As you might have already guessed, an online event hosting platform is a digital space that allows organizers to host digital events. These web venues enable organizations to replicate their in-person event ideas on the internet. They use smart technologies to add liveliness to virtual events and deliver larger-than-life virtual events.
These platforms come with several engaging and interactive touchpoints that enable people to connect with each other beyond distance and time.
Now that online events have become exceptionally popular, several brands have come up with their web event solutions that promise to deliver outstanding virtual event experiences. These virtual event solutions have their USPs; however, below are some of the most basic features that almost all the platforms have. Have a look:
- Audience Engagement Tools
- Networking Features
- Live Streaming
- Live Polls
- Q&A sessions
- Safe and Secure Interface
What Do You Look for in a Virtual Event Platform?
Owing to the sudden rise in the number of online event platforms, it sometimes gets confusing for the organizers to pick the most appropriate online event platform. However, there are a few factors that should always be kept in mind while choosing a virtual event platform. A few of those factors you need to consider during your online event planning are:
Ease of Use:
To start with, one of the most important factors that you should consider while picking up the venue for your next virtual event is its ease of use. Also, when we talk about the ease of using a platform, we mean not only you but your audience should also feel comfortable while using the platform. You would never want your attendees to leave the event because of the complexity of the online event hosting platform. Hence, always keep the user-friendliness of the platform in mind while selecting one. Now that DIY event platforms are in trend, we would suggest you should look for such platforms for your event.
Moving onto the next factor, experts suggest to always have an idea about your budget before you get your hands on a virtual event platform. The reason is quite obvious; you wouldn’t want to go all empty-pocketed at the end of the event. Various platforms offer different subscription models; depending on the need and format of your event, you can pick any of the plans and host your event with ease. Analyze several platforms and then pick the most economical event hosting platform.
- Customization Capabilities:
Now that online events have become popular, every other organization is going virtual and hosting their events online. Therefore, it’s not as easy to get an audience onboard, unless you are delivering them something unique. To make your event stand apart, you need to choose a customizable event platform that would let you go all-in with customization of the event and sprinkle the magic of personalization.
Would it even make sense if you pick a self-managed event platform that caters to a maximum of 100 attendees, while you are targeting more than 500 attendees? We don’t think so. Hence, it is always important to check if the customizable event platform you are planning to choose for your online event can accommodate your targeted audience number.
- User Satisfaction and Reviews:
It is one of the most significant yet reliable factors that you can use to choose the online event hosting platform. If you are new to the virtual world, you would want to hear from the users who have used the platform. Therefore, you should always go for a self-managed event platform that has positive user experience and ratings.
What are Some Types of Online Events?
Here are some of the most common types of virtual events:
- Online Conferences:
Online conferences are generally hosted by businesses and organizations to meet various objectives such as expanding brand awareness, educating people about a certain topic, introducing add-ons, etc. Conferences are more of a formal event, and are hosted for smaller durations. A conference can have several segments such as panel discussions, keynote sessions, one-on-one interaction sessions.
We all have grown up attending seminars in our schools and colleges; webinars are similar to them but their web version. To understand easily, you can split the term ‘Webinar’ into two terms, ‘web’ and ‘seminar’. Webinars are one of the most simple and easy to set up online events.
- Online Workshops:
Online workshops are hosted by organizations and institutions to give skilled-based training to a set of audience. Experts suggest that the organizers should look for efficient customizable event platforms that come with audience engagement tools. These tools will come in handy when you would like to test the attendees’ learnings in the workshops.
- Online Exhibitions:
Online exhibitions allow various brand representatives to showcase their products and services to hundreds of thousands of audiences on a single platform. The best part is that the audience can interact with several brands at the same time, that too without leaving the comfort of their homes. There are various 3D virtual event platforms that let you replicate the real-life components on the internet to give your online exhibitions a touch of reality.
- Online Town Halls and Meetings:
Online Town hall meetings have been indispensable parts of all organizations across the world; be it public or private. Online town hall meetings provide a platform to all the employees, stakeholders, investors, and the leadership of a company to come together. The intent behind hosting an online town hall meeting is to discuss the company and employees’ performance, build a strategy, share updates, and interact with each other.
- Live Streaming:
Live streaming is one of those tried-and-tested methods of delivering content to the audience. Probably one of the most popular formats of virtual events, live streaming allows the hosts to deliver the video to the audience in real time. It means, the audience gets to watch the video at the same time as it is being recorded.
- Virtual Entertainment Shows:
Not only formal events but even entertainment shows have also been started to host virtually. You must have heard of virtual award shows and gala nights that have gained quite a popularity these days. Events like these allow the audience to have fun and interact with each other, all while sitting at home.
- Online Career Fairs:
Organizations across the globe host online career fairs to hire employees. The benefit that comes with virtual career fairs is they allow the professionals to select employees from a lot of several applicants at once. Along with this, it goes without saying that the applicants don’t need to travel for the interview. The hiring team can interview candidates efficiently through one-on-one video call tools.
- Virtual Health and Wellness Events:
We don’t need to explain how health conscious people have become ever since the outbreak of Covid-19. However, since the gyms were among the firsts to get shut down due to the pandemic, the concept of virtual health and wellness classes have become popular. People have shown their excitement towards these events and sessions, and they have become more popular than gyms and physical classes.
- Virtual Fests and Meet-ups:
Virtual fests are one of the most common online events for college students. With physical fests and meet-ups being out of the question, colleges, institutions, and other organizations have come up with the idea of hosting online fests and meet-ups. If you are looking forward to catching up with your old friends, and simply have a chill time with your work peers, online meet-ups are a way to go!
Why are Virtual Events Better Than In-Person Events?
Here are some reason that clearly show that virtual events are better than in-person events:
1. More attendee participation:
Virtual events allow people from all over the world to attend an event without having to travel. Earlier the attendees who couldn’t attend a physical event due to geographical constraints can now do the same easily.
2. Less or No Expenses:
Attending an event through the internet means no need to spend hefty sums of money; neither do the organizers need to spend money on venue, catering, logistics, etc. All the organizers need to spend is on a cost-effective event hosting platform.
3. A Treat for the Introverts:
Introverts don’t find it comfortable to step out and meet new people, and in-person events are nothing but a nightmare for them. Incase of online events, they don’t need to step out of their comfort zone, which is a total win-win situation for them.
4. Sessions are Short and Crisp:
Another significant advantage online events have is that the sessions are more crisp. Since it is not possible for the audience to attend long virtual sessions, the speakers deliver only relevant information. These sessions have more potential than the regular physical sessions.
5. Content Recording:
Talking about the next advantage, the organizers can record the entire sessions and later provide it to those who couldn’t make it to the event. There are several self-managed event platforms that come with the recording feature. This also comes as a great help for the attendees to watch the session at their own pace and convenience.
6. Flexibility and Convenience:
Attendees can participate in virtual events from the comfort of their homes or offices, eliminating the need for commuting and saving time. Virtual events can also be recorded and made available on-demand, allowing participants to access content at their convenience.
Virtual events can be highly interactive, offering various engagement tools like polls, Q&A sessions, and chat features. These interactive elements can enhance attendee participation and create a more engaging experience.
What Are the Drawbacks of Online Events?
One of the most prominent drawbacks of online events is the exertion and tiredness that comes with them. It is what is known as Zoom Fatigue, and is very common in case of virtual events.
Choosing the Right DIY Event Platform:
Since there are several online event hosting platforms out there, it sometimes gets quite confusing for the event organizers to pick one solution. However, if you are hosting online events for the first time, it is suggested that you conduct a research, compare a few options, and then pick one name. Go through a few options and pick a self-managed event platform, which is also the most economical event hosting platform.
Expensive AR/VR Setups:
Since online events are also evolving, people have started to host virtual events using advanced setups. These setups can be quite costly at times.
Low Attendance Rates
Another major problem that the attendees face in case of online events is the low turnout rates. The organizers can expect at least 75% attendees not showing up for the event. To overcome this, the organizers can charge for the event, which can be compensated by providing the content recording to the attendees.
How Do I Make an Online Event Engaging?
Though several organizations have started to host virtual events, keeping the audience engaged is something most of the organizers are still struggling with. Keeping this in mind, we are sharing with you some of the most trusted ideas to make online events fun.
Keep the content short and crisp:
One of the most prominent ways of keeping the audience engaged during the entire online event is by keeping the content crisp. You can also host pre-event sessions to amp up the excitement among your audience. However, when it comes to the main event, always keep your content short. You can also mix it up with jokes, quotes, slideshows and other visual elements to make it look more appealing.
Quality over Quantity, Always:
Rather than focusing on the quantitative aspects of your, you should take the qualitative aspects into consideration. It won’t only keep your audience interested in the event, but will also make it stand apart from the rest. For example, you should focus on the layout of your event, the color coordination, theme, branding, etc. Organizers generally tend to overlook such factors, but these factors can make a huge impact on the overall success of your online event.
Of course online events have undeniable advantages; they have their own limitations too. One such limitation is that the organizers cannot host long and stretched sessions in a virtual environment. Hosting an online event is a different ball game altogether. No matter how immersive your event is, and which background music you have played, your attendees will never find the event fun if it is lengthy. Also, remember, Netflix always remains a click away. Hence, always include breaks between the sessions.
Invite Keynote Speakers:
Another way to make your online event fun and memorable is by inviting a keynote speaker. Having someone reputed and known will keep your audience hooked to the screen. Nobody would want to miss out on listening to famous speakers, and that too from the comfort of their homes. Moreover, having some well-known personalities will act as a trust-binding factor between you and your attendees.
Include Live Polls and Live Q&A Sessions:
One of the effective ways to keep your audience on alert throughout the event is by hosting a few live polls.You can decide the number of polls depending on how long your event is. Plan your questions smartly, you can use live polls to meet two objectives. First, get the data you were looking for; Second, keep your audience engagement rates intact.
Use Push Notifications:
Several organizers would find this idea a bit irrelevant, but this is only because they are skeptical about using the feature of push notifications. They think these notifications will distract the audience from the event, but contrary to popular belief, push notifications can be used to deliver valuable information to the attendees.
Let the Audience Participate:
Another significant yet crucial idea to make your virtual event fun is by promoting two-way communication. You can do that by conducting audience engagement activities such as live polls, and Q&A sessions. It won’t only excite your audience and compel them to participate, but also keep your audience engagement rates in check.
Acknowledge the Attendees’ Presence:
The majority of the audience doesn’t find online events less or not at all engaging, and rightly so. They feel online events lack interactivity and involvement. However, how interactive the online event is solely depends on the event organizer. Acknowledging the presence of your audience, calling out their names, responding to their messages, etc. are some ideas you can use in your online event.
Take your Event Live on the Website:
Share a few highlights in the form of FAQs, snippets, tips directly from your event on your website. Along with it, you can also share your keynote speeches, pictures and other event highlights to your website. It will also help those who couldn’t make it to your event catch a glimpse of your event. Also, you can also reach out to the audience, post events and build effective relations.
Leverage In-event Networking:
The organizers feel physical events have an upper hand when it comes to networking and interacting with new people. In reality, this thought itself is so 2019. It is the age of modern technology, and owing to that, we have some high-end online event platforms. These DIY event platforms come with various networking tools that allow the attendees to meet like-minded people and build long lasting bonds.
Gamification to the Rescue:
Okay, this is probably the most popular and favorite idea of all the organizers. Incorporate gamification feature in your online event and keep your audience engagement rates intact throughout the event. You can encourage the attendees to participate by giving away prizes and announcing winners’ names at the end of the event.
Swag Your Attendees:
How about swag-ing your attendees with some real cool merchandise? You can give away virtual or even physical goodie bags, and fill them with something related to your event and brand. It will excite your attendees as well as promote your brand.
How Do You Promote an Online Event?
Create a Hype:
The ideal time to start off your marketing campaign depends on the scale and type of your event. The time to kick off the marketing and promotion of your event varies from a few weeks before the event to months before it. Use the time to build excitement among your audience by dropping in trailers giving a sneak peek of your event. Such previews will attract the audience to your event, and they will register for it.
Compelling Event Page:
Your event page would be the first thing people refer to when they would want to know more about your event. Therefore, it becomes extremely important for you to design it in a compelling way. Use attention grabbing yet impactful elements for your web page, so that people end up registering for your event. Don’t forget to include all the relevant information that your audience needs to know about your upcoming event; basically every relevant information.
Design compelling and eye-catchy graphics to attract your audience. However, while doing so, ensure you don’t forget ‘Relevancy’. People don’t like to see repeated content, and things might go really bad if you are posting irrelevant content.
There is no denying that your speaker draws a crowd to your event. Publicize your event speakers and VIP guests. Create a dedicated page for your speakers, and add a compelling bio about them. Add their social media accounts so that people can connect with them personally. Having renowned speakers and guests at your event will show the credibility and quality of your online event.
Ask Your Sponsors to Promote Your Event:
Having your sponsors marketing your virtual event, and talking about it will help you with the promotion of your event exponentially. And, you are not the only one who will be benefiting from this; even your sponsors would want to maximize their branding. Hence, don’t hold yourself back from asking them to promote your event.
Consider SEO while Designing Website:
Optimize your website and all kinds of content you are publishing to improve their search engine rankings. You can use several tools to check which keywords have the maximum traffic and are ranking. Though ranking is not completely in your hands, follow SEO guidelines and focus on optimizing your page for higher visibility of your website.
Create a sense of urgency about your event among the audience by creating an event countdown. Use your social media and event website for the same. It will compel your audience to act fast and register for the online event.
Reach out to celebrities and influencers:
Another popular and one of the most influential ways to promote the event is by collaborating with famous faces and celebrities. When people would see them talking about your event, they would definitely register themselves for it. There are higher chances the influencers will collaborate with you if your event has something to offer them as well.
Use Email Marketing:
It is the most favorite marketing technique of several marketers around the globe. Don’t overlook the power of emails in the world of social media; you can use it to maximize your event reach. Curate newsletters and send it to people in your email list. Your newsletters don’t always have to be very formal; keep them quirky, and fun to read.
Make Use of Social Media:
Does the power of social media need any mention? We all are very aware how the correct use of social media can literally change the dynamics of anything. Create a social media page about your event, and post regular updates around it.
Don’t hurry in ending the event; stick around once it gets over. It comes as an excellent opportunity to build connections with your audience, and collect their instant feedback. Also, you should also share the event recording to those who registered for the event, but couldn’t attend it for some reasons. In addition, you should also send post-event feedback forms to the attendees; it will help you get their reviews about the event.
How Do You Plan an Online Event?
Here are the steps you can follow to host an online event:
Set Well-Defined Goals:
First thing first, always start with having clear objectives that you wish to achieve with the event. It can be anything; right from expanding ROI, to getting more audience, or launching a new product. A goal will give you a direction to work towards.
Schedule the Event Carefully:
While you schedule your event, ensure you pick a date and time that suits the maximum audience. If you are planning to have a global audience, ensure that you take different time zones into consideration so that maximum audience turns up for the event.
Select the Right Self-Managed Event Platform:
Now that you have your goals clear, it’s time to look for the best online event hosting platform. Since there are various options available, it might get confusing for the organizers to pick one name. Hence, always refer to a guide before picking up a DIY event platform, so that you land on the right name.
As an organizer, you need to know that promoting your event is as important as planning and executing it. The reason is quite simple; would anything even matter if you didn’t have enough audience in your event? Therefore, it is important to promote your event effectively using effective marketing strategies.
Design an Agenda:
To keep things going smoothly, create an agenda for the event. Also, share it with your attendees beforehand so that they have an idea of what is going to happen at the event. Mention the rules, time, rules and regulations of the event.
Keep Your Audience Engaged:
Getting your attendees registered and making it to the event is not enough; you also need to keep them engaged. For those who don’t know, engagement rate is one of the Key Performance Indicators. Hence, you should incorporate some strategies that will help you keep your audience engaged.
An event is not over until you know how your audience feels about it. Hence, as soon as the event ends, send a post-event survey to your audience to know their reviews about the event.
What are Some Online Event Ideas?
Here are some of the best online event ideas:
Virtual Cocktail Session:
How about mixing your drinks together, and having a great time with your people? You can have a professional who will teach you how to mix up your drinks to make it more fun.
Online Live Concert:
You can host an online live concert for your employees. You can either play a recorded concert, or invite a band to perform for you.
Virtual Movie Night:
Nothing better than watching a movie together with your gang. It is also a great way to bond with your team members over some movies. Host an online movie night and spend good time with your friends.
Online Coffee Hours:
Ask your friends or coworkers to bring their coffees; host an online coffee break where you will sit and chat with your peers.
Online Game Show:
Replicate any of your favorite game shows, and have a fun time with your peers in an online game show.
Online Dinner Party:
It is one of the most loved and vastly organized online event ideas. You can connect with your co-workers in a setting different from regular work scenes. Host a dinner party, and get to know each other better.
Host an online trivia night, and have different teams of your company compete with each other.
Virtual Game Night:
How about having a chill game night with your friends and family? Another fun online event idea is to get your friends and family connected and play games together; online.
Online Award Ceremony:
Acknowledge the contribution and hard work of your employees with an online award ceremony. It will motivate them to work even harder, and they will feel valued.