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Ultimate Guide on Virtual Events: Tips & Ideas with Examples

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Ultimate Guide on Virtual Events: Tips & Ideas with Examples

People often make the mistake of thinking that Zoom is the be-all and end-all of virtual event software.

However, that's a myth. While Zoom is great for webinars, it's not ideal for larger virtual events like trade shows, conferences, and networking events.

So what are virtual events? And how should you go about choosing virtual event software?

Let’s take a look.

What is meant by a virtual event?

Virtual events are online events that try to replicate the experience of an in-person event. 

So what events can be held virtually? 

Well just about anything! Trade shows, conferences, product launches, networking events, and more can all be held online. 

In the past few years (thanks to a certain annoying virus) virtual events are getting more traction compared to in-person events. 

On one hand, people prefer virtual events as they’re convenient and don’t require travel. On the other hand, organizers find that virtual events help reach a wider audience than in-person events. It’s a win-win for both sides.

So what about webinars? Are they virtual events?

Webinars do come under the umbrella term of virtual events, but virtual events can also be grander in scale (just like a physical event). Large-scale virtual events are like webinars on steroids.

What are the types of virtual events?

Popular types of virtual events include:

Virtual Conferences

A virtual conference is an online event that allows participants to connect with other people and learn about industry trends, products, and services. 

Typically, conferences include presentations, panel discussions, and networking opportunities. Participating in such a conference virtually allows businesses and professionals to interact with a broader audience and expand their networks without having to travel.

Product Launches

Virtual product launches can generate as much hype as in-person launches. 

Don’t believe us?

Well, the PS5 launch was completely virtual and generated an insane amount of buzz from gamers worldwide. Its launch proved that virtual product launches can be just as effective as in-person ones. 

Workshops and Training

Virtual workshops and training allow attendees to learn from experts in business, technology, marketing, health, etc. This type of virtual event can also be used for professional development and continuing education.

Fundraising galas 

Virtual fundraising galas can be used to raise funds for a wide range of causes, including medical research, social programs, disaster relief efforts, and more. They allow attendees around the world to donate funds and participate in auctions without having to travel or attend in-person events.

Job fairs

With many jobs starting to get remote, virtual job fairs allow companies to hire talent from across the globe. These kinds of online events allow participants to browse job listings, submit their resumes, and chat with recruiters online.

Meetups and networking events

Meetings and networking events online provide a convenient way for professionals to connect without having to travel. Events of this type often focus on a particular industry, interest, or hobby and include icebreaker activities and discussion forums to introduce participants to one another.

Seminars and summits

Seminar and summit events are typically focused on a particular industry or topic, such as marketing, technology, leadership, etc. These virtual events feature presentations from thought leaders in the field who share their insights with attendees.

Benefits of virtual events: Why should I host a virtual event? 

Attract a larger audience

In-person events can discourage certain types of people from attending. 

For example, if your customer lives in another country, he or she might find it difficult to travel to your event. They also have to shell out much more for travel expenses compared to an audience member who stays in the region. Even people from the same region might not come to your event because of financial constraints, as in-person events tend to be expensive. 

Hosting a virtual event allows you to gain a larger audience worldwide. 

Reduce your expenses

No physical venue. No catering. No hotel bookings. No flight bookings. No staff. No installation and setup. 

These are all the expenses you save if you run a virtual event. The only money you need to spend is on marketing and software. 

Better feedback

By conducting polls and surveys (a feature present on most major virtual event software), organizers can understand what their attendees want and cater to them better in the future. 

Better analytics

Some virtual event platforms give you detailed real-time analytics into how attendees interact with your content, which then helps you make improvements to your event in real-time or in the long run. 

The following are some of the analytics captured by these platforms: 

  • Time spent by a user watching a particular session. 
  • Sessions that were popular and unpopular with a certain user. 
  • Users that interacted with a specific exhibitor and sponsor the most.

Better social media coverage

Virtual event platforms make it easier to share content on social media than in-person events. Certain virtual platforms (like Riverside.fm) excel in creating snippets from events that can be shared instantly on various social media platforms.

How to host an engaging virtual event?

Step 1: Set a clear goal 

Ask yourself why you and your team want to host the event. 

Do you want to gain more leads for your business? Do you want to generate hype for your new product?  Or maybe you want to drive revenue through ticket sales and sponsorships.

Understanding and setting a clear goal will make the next steps easier, which is…

Step 2: Create a detailed master plan for the event

With the help of event planners, create a master plan. The plan should include the following steps:

  • List out the sponsors, hosts, speakers, and vendors for your event. 
  • Come up with a schedule and a list of activities for the event (make sure to include networking activities as well as fun things to do in the itinerary). 
  • Detail how to make the event engaging for attendees.
  • List out questions for surveys and feedback.
  • Develop a strategy for generating leads.

Once the master plan has been figured out, you need to…

Step 3: Figure out which virtual event platform to use

You may have to select different platforms depending on the type of event and how you want to host it.

Here are some questions that will help you hone in on the right platform:

  • Is it important that the software you choose allows you to display sponsor logos and advertising banners during the event?
  • Do you want the tool to go easy on the pocket? 
  • Is event technology like analytics and data gathering important to you? 
  • Do you want software that supports various integrations?
  • Is the ability to network paramount to the success of your event?

You’ll need to ask these questions if you want to get a virtual platform that assists you in creating a successful event. 

Get in contact with a sales representative of the software to choose the right one and ask them any question that pops in your head to clarify your doubts. 

Step 4: Reach out to the speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors

Once you’ve figured out which speakers, sponsors, and/or exhibitors you’d like to invite, reach out to them. Tell them about your plans for the event and emphasize how it will benefit them.

Step 5: Establish the budget

Estimate the budget based on your master plan. If the plan exceeds your budget, you may have to make changes to it. 

Step 6: Create and implement your marketing strategy

It’s time to get started and kick your virtual event into gear. 

First, you’ll need to create an enticing landing page that’ll attract your ideal attendees to join your event. These landing pages should also serve as registration pages. Some virtual software allow you to create and customize a landing page. 

Once you’ve created an ideal landing page, you then need to funnel people into it. You can promote your landing page by: 

  • Sharing it on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
  • Creating Facebook, Instagram ads, or Google ads.
  • Sending emails with the landing page link to your existing customers, letting them know about the event. 

Good marketing campaigns are all about showing customers how attending the event will benefit their lives.

Step 7: Prepare the content for your event

As the event is online, you’ll want to take extra care to make it fun, interactive, and informative. Remember, the attendees will be viewing the event through their laptop or phone, so if they get bored, they can easily switch tabs in their browser to watch Netflix or scroll through Instagram on their phones. 

Strive to make the content as informative and engaging as possible so your attendees will feel like your event was worth their time. Content can include videos, presentations, documents, and images. 

In addition, you can conduct entertaining virtual activities to inject fun into the event. 

Step 8: Execute the best event ever

Here are some pointers to host a great event

  • Ask your attendees questions to keep them engaged. 
  • Let your attendees know about the software’s networking features and encourage them to use it.
  • Sprinkle fun activities throughout the event.
  • Be extra helpful to your attendees and clarify any questions they have.

Step 9: Analyze the data gathered

Many virtual event platforms allow you to gather and analyze data from an event. Data points include:

  • Registrant names and their interests
  • Poll answers
  • Registrant engagement
  • Registrant drop off rate
  • Speaker analytics that highlights popular speakers
  • Sponsor and exhibitor analytics that highlight booth attendance, leads generated, clicks and impressions, etc.

This data gives you a better sense of how successful your event was, and it can be used to make your next event even better.

Step 10: Share the event's content with participants

Virtual events often have multiple talks running simultaneously which can make your attendees develop an unwanted feeling of FOMO. Luckily, virtual event platforms like Riverside.fm can record these talks in 4K. Participants can then be emailed links to these recorded videos.

Step 11: Repurpose the event

To make the best out of your event, you can always repurpose recordings of it. For example, you can take the highlights of your event and turn them into short, enticing content to upload to social media. Try Riverside’s Clips tool which lets you mark key moments as you record and automatically turn lets you turn your video into short shareable snippets.

Best Virtual Event Platforms 

Hopin

Hopin is an event management software that excels at hosting large virtual events. 

When an attendee first enters a Hopin page, they’re greeted with a reception area (a kind of landing page), where they can view the description, topics, schedule, speakers, and sponsors of an event.

As soon as your attendees enter the event, they can access different sections of the conference. There’s a ‘stage’ section where attendees can watch different talks concurrently running. Then there’s a ‘sessions’ section where people can be social and discuss different topics through video. 

Another section is the speed networking one that matches people based on parameters they select. Lastly, there’s an expo section where visitors can browse stalls set up by exhibitors. 

Hopin may be the right software for you if:

  • You want a virtual event software that simulates a real-life conference as much as possible. 
  • You need a software that lets you sprinkle your branding throughout. 
  • You want a platform that’s great at allowing people to network and socialize. 

Riverside.fm

Riverside virtual event platform

Looking for a platform that excels in 4K video and high-quality audio recording? Or maybe you want a platform that makes it easy to share event highlights (or even the whole event) to social media? Then you should consider Riverside.fm.

Riverside.fm makes it effortless to create clips from various portions of the event. It’s also perfect for pre-recording top-quality videos for your virtual events, thanks to the aforementioned 4K recording feature. 

You can spice up your videos during an event by inserting soundtracks, intros, outros, or any themed music during a live or pre-recorded video stream. This sort of live editing reduces post-production time. 

Your live video can be streamed to 1000s of attendees, who are free to call-in at any time. 

Choose Riverside.fm if you want to:

  • Pre-record 4K video for your virtual events
  • Repurpose your event content and share it on social media easily
  • Edit your live video stream in real-time with various visual and audio effects
  • Stream your event to multiple platforms at once

vFair

Think of vFair as a virtual conference simulator. The software has actual virtual 3D lobbies and exhibition halls that emulates the feel of an in-person conference. 

Exhibitors in your virtual event can set up ‘stalls’ much like a real-life trade show.  Your attendees can then browse these stalls, look at company brochures, product demos, and even purchase products. 

To make managing vFair on the backend easier, the company gives you an option to opt for a Dedicated Event Manager. The company also offers 24/7 customer support in case you run into any problems during the event. 

vFair is for you if:

  • You want to host trade shows.
  • You want the vent to look like a virtual 3D environment.
  • You want to implement virtual event ideas and gamification like scavenger hunts.
  • You need dedicated customer support available on demand.

Remo

Remo virtual event platform
(Image source: Remo)

Remo, like vFair, has 3D virtual spaces, but of a slightly different kind. 

In Remo, you can create virtual ‘buildings’. Each of these buildings has multiple floors. The look and feel of these virtual buildings and floors resemble that of a Sims game. You can completely customize the floors to match your brand and company. 

Hosting an office event? No problem, you can recreate your office floor in Remo and have all your employees attend office virtually. 

In each of these floors you’ll find virtual chairs and sofas that you can sit on. When you sit on one of these chairs, your profile picture will appear over it. You can then interact and have a conversation with other people in the room by clicking on their profile pictures.  

Remo also has a presenter mode, in which only the speaker can be seen or heard, and all other participants are hidden. However, the speaker can bring guests on stage if he chooses to. The presenter mode also has a Q&A tab, where attendees can ask burning questions, and others can upvote it, much like Reddit. This way, the speaker can answer the most pressing and relevant questions. 

You can try Remo if:

  • You want to host corporate events, networking events, and presentations.
  • You want to host hybrid events.
  • You want a virtual event software that has a sleek interface and is easy to operate. 

Tips for choosing the right virtual event platform

When choosing the right virtual event platform, we highly recommend you consider the following:

Great Communication Features

Virtual events are an excellent way for people to socialize with one another. So the software you choose must have good communication features.

Social features must include:

  • An ability for attendees to ask questions to speakers
  • 1:1 chat facilities (text, audio, and video)
  • Group chat features (text, audio, and video)
  • Matchmaking features

Great recording capability

In the age of social media, repurposing your content for marketing purposes is almost mandatory if your aim is to grow your business. So it’s essential to choose software that has strong audio and video recording capabilities. 

If you’re looking for such a platform then Riverside.fm is a good option — it records audio and video locally (not over the internet, as that decreases quality) in 4K.  

Customization options

Would you like your brand's vibe to permeate throughout your conference and presentation? Then you’ll want to choose software that lets you customize various aspects of your event.

Some of the customization options include:

  • The ability to brand web rooms, exhibitor halls, and landing pages.
  • The ability to customize emails so that your messages stay on brand.
  • The ability to change the event page's fonts, colors, and elements.

Data capturing and analytics

Real-life events cannot collect as much juicy data as virtual events. Some of this data includes: 

  • Booths frequented by an attendee.
  • The time spent by the attendee interacting with each booth
  • The number of sessions attended by an attendee and time spent in each session.
  • An attendee's interaction with ads.

In addition to determining what's popular with your attendees, the data also helps exhibitors and sponsors better understand customer behavior so they can sell better.

Support 

Some virtual platforms are intuitive and easy enough to operate that you don’t need customer support. However, more complex ones may require on-demand customer service to eliminate problems that may occur during an event.

Some platforms even give you a dedicated account manager to help you set up and manage your event.

7 Brilliant Virtual Event Ideas With Examples

Here are some great virtual event ideas to make your virtual events more lively and memorable. 

Virtual Cocktail Class/Party

A cocktail party or class is a great way to add some fun to your virtual event. 

You could hire a mixologist (or ask your resident mixologist) to lead a cocktail class/party. To hype up the class, you could send participants a kit with all the ingredients ahead of time.

Murder Mystery

Murder mysteries are ideal for virtual events with fewer attendees because they’re engaging and help build camaraderie.

You can either host your very own murder mystery event or choose from plenty of murder mystery games available online. 

Dance Party

Hire a DJ who can pump out some great tracks and host a separate dance room so people can dance from in their homes. Let the folks who enjoy dancing have a good time, and don’t force the dancing on guests who don’t want to. 

Improv Night

If you’ve ever watched the show ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’, you’d know how much fun improv is. Hosting an improv session is a great way for people to laugh, have fun, and unleash their inner comedian. 

Virtual Campfire

While a virtual campfire may lack the heat and warmth of a real campfire, it’s an excellent way for people to connect over scary stories, sing-alongs, and personal experiences. 

Virtual Concert

Got a popular local artist who you can hire for an event? Or perhaps you have the budget to bring in an international star?

In any case, virtual concerts are guaranteed to offer attendees a memorable event experience.

Virtual Talent Show

This one is great for office virtual events. You can host a (Your company’s name)’s Got Talent, where your employees can showcase their singing, dancing, instrument playing, and other talents to the whole company. 

Virtual Truth and Lie

The game is simple — each person tells the others two truths and one lie about themselves. Everyone else has to decide which one is which. 

This fun event is a great way to break the ice among participants, help them get to know each other, and share more about themselves. If this is a company event, it’s the perfect game for employees to get to know each other (on the other hand, maybe it’s also the ideal game to spot liars in the company!...just kidding).

Conclusion

The popularity of virtual events are only going to increase as time goes on. So it’s best to familiarize yourself with the different platforms out there, so you can host virtual events that will make you the talk of the town. 

Check out Riverside.fm if you're planning a virtual event - the platform is easy to use and will have you hosting virtual events like a pro in no time.

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