A remote-first world empowered by global connectivity has challenged event planners to adopt strategies that don’t rely solely on in-person events. While the impact and value of in-person events can't be denied, the fact that virtual event attendance is increasing faster than live event attendance means there's more to purely virtual event experiences beyond mere convenience and safety considerations. This article will walk you through some basic questions and considerations for putting on a virtual event.

What is a Virtual Event?

A virtual event is an online-only event that delivers the value of an in-person event in a virtual environment. Attendees interact in a virtual environment on the web, rather than meeting in a physical location. Virtual events are multi-session online events that often feature live streams, webinars, and webcasts. However, a webinar by itself isn't a virtual event.

Why Should You Embrace Virtual?

There are a ton of reasons embracing virtual is a smart move. Here are a few of the key ones. 👇 

  • Widen your audience — Going virtual opens up your event to more people! You can connect with your audience across the globe for a fraction of the cost, and include attendees who would otherwise not be able to have that experience.

  • Save on costs 💰— Make your budget go farther by saving on travel, vendors, and venues. Virtual meetings can be held anywhere there's an Internet connection.

  • Build a community — Create a community surrounding your event, and keep people engaged before, during and after. Capture content that can be used all year long.

  • Personalize the attendee experience — User data allows you to seamlessly engage and personalize the event experience. Use groups to ensure that attendees receive the content that's most applicable to them, including personalized notifications, discussion boards, and more.

  • Provide sponsorship ROI — That's right, you can absolutely have effective event sponsorship with a virtual event. Here's how. Also check out our Virtual Event Sponsorship Guidebook!

  • Embrace sustainability Save the environment, one virtual event at a time.  Virtual events reduce food waste, and carbon emissions due to travel.

  • Crisis-proof your event — You may have heard about something that started in 2020 that was kind of a big deal. Going virtual can protect your event from getting squashed by unforeseen world events.

What are the Components of a Virtual Event?

It's important to think through the participant experience for your virtual event, the same way that you would for an in-person event — from start to finish. The main components to consider are:

  • Registration

  • Content Distribution

  • Sponsorship

  • Attendee Engagement & Networking

This probably sounds familiar! It's not all that different from an in-person event. The principal difference that we see is the increased need to manage participants' attention while considering each of these.

What features does Socio offer for virtual events?

Nearly all of Socio's features can be used for virtual events! Check out this video for a walkthrough of features that Socio offers, or check out our full features overview article.

  • Hire an emcee — Have a host or master of ceremonies, just like you would for an in-person event. This person can help keep the energy up, ensure smooth communication, and act as a point of contact.

  • Embrace virtual sponsorship offerings — Offer your sponsors the opportunity to sponsor sessions, banner ads, splash screens, virtual giveaways, notifications, game challenges, and more.

  • Facilitate sponsor connections — Make it easy for attendees to indicate their interest in a sponsor, exhibitor, or speaker, and even schedule a meeting with them using the Attendee Engagement features available in Sponsor profiles

  • Manage participant distractions — Create a central hub for all event content, removing the need for participants to "leave the event" at all. Embed live streams, recordings, session collateral, and more. We also recommend shorter, more targeted sessions than you would typically put on for a live event. Demos, hands-on labs, and case studies are all great options!

  • Rehearse and test — Have your presenters do a dry-run the day before the event, using the same technology they'll be using for the real deal. Test your Event App beforehand to ensure everything looks and works just how you want it to. These actions help minimize tech hiccups and get everyone on the same page.

  • Keep them engaged — Engagement also helps manage their distractions. ☝️Support engagement with moderated discussion boards, live polling and Q&A, and the event game. Automated session reminders and announcements can also help increase attendance and engagement.

  • Kick off a community — Virtual events can be a great way to jump-start a 365-day Community. If you want your participants to engage with your community all year long, be intentional with your choices to encourage that the experience continue. Sessions-based forums allow long-term conversation around your content, and on-demand playback gives your content a longer life.

  • Encourage networking — Give your attendees multiple networking options, with chat features, networking Game challenges, the Wall, and Shake to Connect (Branded Apps only). Video Rooms are also a fantastic way to facilitate informal “Birds of a Feather”-type meetups, allowing people to connect and talk about topics of interest. Use survey and polling features to crowdsource the topics.

Animated GIF of six people in a Video Room. The Chat panel is open.

This sounds great — can I see an example?

Sure thing! Tap the button below to either download our example Branded Event app on your iPhone or Android, or use the Web App to join the ETT Virtual Conference:

  • Mobile App - After the ETT Events app is installed, enter your email address and fill in your profile. Under Upcoming Events, swipe left or search to find and select ETT Virtual Conference 2020, then tap Join.

  • Web App - After clicking the Web App option, simply enter an email address and set a password, then fill in your attendee profile to join the event.

Questions? Chat Us or Email support@socio.events

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