2020 has been a difficult and confusing time for many people. The coronavirus pandemic has a lot of people scared about the health of their loved ones and wondering about their own financial situation. Social distancing mandates are making people miss their friends and going to events.
The COVID-19 crisis has been tough for companies, too. Some organizations weren’t ready to take all their workflow online. Others have been struggling and relying on government loans, forced to let go of employees.
But one way your organization can boost employee morale and get community support is through online events. Thanks to Zoom and other online conference tools, people have been able to connect over online events in place of all the usual concerts, movies, conventions and meet-ups they’ve been missing out on.
At 1338Tryon, we work with a lot of companies that truly care about connecting with their employees and customers. They use our custom products to unite employees or share their mission with the community. So how can your organization build that same connection online through an event? Let’s take a closer look.
So What is an Online Event?
An online event is a virtual meet-up that takes place online rather than in a physical location. Just like events held in-person, online events come in a variety of formats. As long as there’s a way for people to connect virtually — through webcam or even a chatting service — an online event can take place.
Tutorials and Classes
If you have a product or service that needs some explaining, hosting an online how-to webinar with tips and instructions can really engage potential customers. They’ll have experts (you guys) to interact with, especially if you offer a Q&A session after the tutorial. Make it even more interactive by creating an atmosphere where people can follow along or participate in various ways. Unlike in-person events, online classes can often involve a lot of sitting and staring at a computer screen. To make it last longer and not lose anyone’s interest, create various opportunities for discussion or action.
Training and Courses
Sometimes employees can feel a bit disconnected while working remotely. There’s no morning coffees together before meetings and there’s no in-person meetings where everyone gathers to discuss changes within the company. To keep employees engaged, motivated and knowledgable, host online webinars and workshops.
This is something that can also be offered to customers and clients, gaining trust and confidence by providing webinars and workshops that only your team can provide.
This can be a little difficult during this time, since a lot of public spaces and offices are closed. But get creative. When employees and customers feel a connection to you on a personal level, they’re more likely to feel engaged and dedicated to the company or product. Show them your at-home office. Or maybe show off how your product or service works in a variety of new and unexpected locations.
Interviews and Performances
This goes back to the idea behind “training and courses.” You and your team have a certain insight that other people may not, whether it be your skills or details about your product or service. That is something valuable that draws people in, which is why interviews and performances are such a hit when it comes to online events.
Having the chance to not only listen to an expert discuss a certain topic, product or experience but interact with them, is a one-of-a-kind experience that will surely excite your audience.
During the time when coronavirus has stripped us of fairs, conventions, concerts, movies and more, watching an exciting performance online is another way to ensure your online event lasts. Whether it’s an interactive karaoke competition or watching professional dancers, performances are an excellent way to captivate an audience.
Conferences and Networking
Networking is very important to professionals in a variety of industries. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has ensured that no conferences and networking opportunities exist face-to-face. Luckily, an online event is a perfect chance to connect with other professionals. Giving people the opportunity to meet others within their industry will most definitely be of interest, especially now. Find a way to form a structured networking and business gathering to ensure your online event is requested week after week.
How to Host an Online Event
Create a Game Plan
Every online event needs a strategy. Think about what your goals are with the event. What are you hoping to accomplish? That will help you create a much clearer vision of what type of online event you need to host to better reach your chosen audience.
Then think of some of the basics. Will attendees be charged or will it be free? Will it be hosted live or on-demand? Will you require event registration?
Choose the Right Time
It’s extremely important to choose the right date and time for the event. Do a little research, finding out which time zone works best for your target audience and which days work the best for most participants. Find out when the majority of your community is usually online and even send polls to find out people’s preferred dates. This can be done through email or on social media.
Promote the Event
Determine the key selling points of your online event. Is it a certain skill or knowledge they will gain? Something physical they can win? A noteworthy speaker or performance? This will determine the best way to go about your marketing. But there are some things that are always good to pursue:
- Share details by email and on social media
- Create a countdown on Instagram Stories
- Give an event hashtag on Twitter
- Create a Facebook event
- List your online event on websites like Eventbrite for a bigger reach
- Target ads specifically to people who will be interested and make sure they’re in a format that will appeal to them
- Be consistent. Registration spikes two to three weeks before an event, so ramp up your marketing around that time
Prepare for Tech Troubles
Unlike an in-person event, online events may run into some technology-related blunders. Before the event begins, test your internet connection and any other devices you’ll be using throughout the event. You might even want to run a rehearsal to see if any issues arise.
And even if you have tech gurus on your end to help you, remember that not all of your guests have that same support. You might want to provide some advice or instructions in a follow-up email once guests have registered. Maybe you can even have someone on hand to help people with questions or issues during the event.
Make it Interactive
This is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind when creating a successful online event built to last. You want the audience to feel engaged. This will keep them interested in the event because they’ll feel a sense of investment and also feel listened to.
Ask viewers to submit questions through the conference platform’s chat tool. Let them know these will be answered during a Q&A. Maybe even have portions of the event where people can participate in quizzes, polls, and games. This will have them paying even closer attention because of the entertainment value and their competitive nature. Also, offer prizes. Use 1338Tryon to create custom gifts that promote the online event and give them away to audience members.
When the event is done, encourage people to provide feedback and comments. This can be through a poll or email. Either way, it makes them feel heard and appreciated for participating.
When it comes to online events, you want people to feel connected to the product, company or to one another. During a time when face-to-face interaction is rare, people want to feel that sense of belonging.
Make your online event feel special by offering custom merchandise for people to rep during and after the online event. At 1338Tryon, we have endless apparel, accessories, and office supplies that can be customized for all your future online events. Check out our exciting selection here.