Key Takeaways for Marketing and Running Highly Engaging Virtual Events
Over the past few weeks our world has been turned upside down. Everything stopped. Businesses and operations have either been halted or disrupted. But Earth still spins and the Sun still rises.
I currently have the honor of working with some of the brightest people to build a startup ecosystem in Taiwan. We had to find a way to build a community via virtual events.
For a bit of context, there is no lockdown in Taiwan as of now.
I am currently working on a team as a Design and Marketing Lead, which means that I am constantly coordinating marketing and communications efforts for the community, sending news updates that are relevant to the community, and of course helping run a series of virtual events. I’ve learned a lot from this experience.
Here’s a list of key takeaways that you too can follow to create highly engaging virtual events…
✅ Start with a goal and a target audience.
Always start with a goal! Figure out what a “win” looks like! Does it mean having 100 people attend your virtual workshop? Does it mean 20 people actively engaging with you or the person running the workshop? Don’t do an event just to do an event!
The second part of planning out your event is to figure out the structure, better known as the “run-down” of your event. What will the key takeaways for your audience be? Using this short bulleted list, you can start to create marketing materials to promote your event.
✅ Event roles
Have clear roles during the virtual event. You’ll want to have someone be the moderator for your event, someone “working the floor” to help relay questions to you or the guest speaker. If you are the host, you can be the one to read questions the audience posts to the guest speaker.
This part is super important as that really helps to increase the engagement between audience members as well as you.
✅ The Virtual Event Funnel
Promoting for Brand Awareness —> content for your event —> conversion
When you’re just starting out, focus on brand awareness for social media ads. For our particular case, we ran Facebook ads and Instagram ads with a very small budget, but with great return on investment. (This whole Facebook ads thing requires its own post!)
With limited resources currently, you have to be smart and strategize where you focus your marketing energy. Focus on channels that you know your community is in. For us, it’s our Facebook Group and LINE group, a message based social channel heavily used in Asia, specifically Taiwan. There’s a saying, go where your audience hangs.
Next is to plan your content to go out based on when the event will be and how people use social channels. For example, we can promote events on Facebook via group posts and events page early on to get the word out, while running ads to get traction. Then, we’ll use the messaging platform to let people know that we’re Live-streaming an event, right at the beginning of the event, so people can always pop in to see if this is an event they’re interested in.
✅ The Power of Multiple Streams
Integrate the power of linking live stream channels to each other, that way you can broadcast your event to more people. Early on, we were strategic about building communication channels with various organizations, and this allowed us to share our resources where they would broadcast our events on their page as well, but we’ll give them brand collaboration credit. It’s a truly win-win situation.
✅ Moderate and Engage
Moderate and engage with your audience on multiple channels. Figure out a workflow that works best for your team.
✅ Platform Type
Choosing the right platform to stream your event is based on the type of engagement you want during the event. The key is to figure out how much engagement you want from your audience and what that engagement looks like. Some platforms allow commenting as a stream is going on. Other platforms limit this, so that the presenter won’t be too distracted.
✅ Event Rundown and Structure
You’ll want to outline the event structure by figuring out roughly what will happen when. This helps to make sure that you hit all your points and actually have a chance to interact and engage your audience.
- 5-minute Introductions
- 25-minute Educational Content
- 30-minute Question and answer
✅ It takes a village.
Coordination, trust, and open channels of communication are all important factors of running an effective event marketing campaign with a small and agile team.
✅ Going forward
I’d like to explore automating certain marketing tasks and will create a new post on how that integrates into the MarComm Workflow.