When live events were put on hold due to the pandemic, event planners were forced to innovate virtually so people could still gather—just from a distance. Cue the rise of virtual and hybrid events and, along with it, a laser focus on how to level up virtual event engagement so at-home attendees felt as connected as they did attending events in person.
Today, there’s more competition than ever for attendee’s virtual attention. As we begin traveling and interacting more in person, virtual will compete with live events (and shopping and coffee shops!) as well. Over the last year, new tech tools and a better understanding of what makes for a superior virtual event have raised the bar. While 2020 was forgiving of mishaps—and at times found them humorous enough to make them go viral—the event-goers of 2021 and beyond will be looking for more.
A vital part of the equation? Finding a virtual event platform that can help make your event top-notch. At Socio, our end-to-end event management platform is built for live streaming, attendee engagement, sponsorship, networking, and advanced analytics, powering virtual, hybrid, and in-person event success.
As a platform founded by event pros, we specialize in event tech and strategies to keep attendees engaged and wanting more. Check out our 7 tips to successfully engage your attendees at your next virtual event:
Idea #1: Foster friendly competition with games, challenges, and prizes.
Integrate games, quizzes, trivia or other interactive activities like a virtual escape room or scavenger hunt for added excitement. And what makes a game or challenge more fun than the chance at a reward? Giving out gift cards or other fun prizes to winners, like during a raffle, drives value. Event hosts are consistently amazed at how hungry their attendees are to climb the leaderboard. And sponsors love it when hosts hide game codes in their virtual booths, or let them give out codes to attendees joining their video breakout rooms.
Idea #2: Host interactive activities or team building.
Paint parties, beauty tutorials, wine tastings or cooking classes get everyone involved. Sending supplies beforehand gives the attendee that physical sense of an event while participating from the comfort and safety of their home. Promoting wellness can also be a great group activity that can be done virtually, whether it’s through a yoga class, stretching session or just jamming together with your best dance moves.
Idea #3: Hire performers to work into your run of show.
Who says we need live events to be entertained? Virtual concerts, digital artists, comedians, mentalists and other performers can provide much-needed enjoyment even in a virtual setting. Giving attendees access to speakers by offering polls or chat features also adds another level of engagement opportunity. Through companies like Cameo.com, you can even order a prerecorded video from a celebrity, musician or professional athlete.
Idea #4: Send swag ahead of your event.
While guests always appreciate swag, it’s a trend that’s especially hot for the at-home attendee. Sending materials for any activity or a special branded gift will help make the event that much more memorable—and give them something physical to share on social media.
Idea #5: Host interactive sponsor booths.
Promote your sponsors through virtual booths with interactive chat and sponsored video rooms. Rotating banners and prompts will allow attendees to interact with brands while potentially helping your sponsors gain business.
Idea #6: Prepare your space ahead of time.
In the early days of the pandemic, if your dog was barking in the background or the doorbell rang, most people just went with the flow. But flash forward a year and audiences are expecting higher-level experiences, especially if they’ve invested financially. For this reason, your physical location, whether in your house or an office, is important to the quality of your production. Whether it’s too dark or too bright, lighting matters. The same goes for background noise. And don’t forget to do a tech check before going live! You’ll want a strong internet connection (a hard-wired ethernet connection is a great choice!) and to make sure your audio and video are good to go.
Idea #7: Get creative with event promotion to maximize attendance.
Use ticketing and registration strategies to gain more guest sign-ups while creating a sense of urgency. When marketing the event, try techniques beyond traditional social media and email by creating LinkedIn and Facebook events and utilizing direct mail postcards to target account lists. You can also promote benefits for early sign-ups and include hidden tickets or codes that will unlock VIP access.
The last year has instilled even deeper that events will always be vital to society, and as virtual events continue into the future, Socio offers a platform where attendees can chat, share files and engage with each other. You can discover, connect and manage your event—from anywhere.
Want to see examples of many of the above virtual event engagement ideas in action? Check out the recording of our recent “Raising the Bar on Virtual Events” webinar.