One of the biggest challenges of running a virtual summit is emulating the interactions that happen at in-person events. They’re usually organic and causal and can be a powerful resource for attendees.
But just because an event is taking place online doesn’t mean you can’t replicate that in-person feeling. Here are a few things to consider if you want to add a more in-person element to your virtual events:
Group chat is the tried and true method of getting strangers on the internet to interact with one another. In virtual business settings, like webinars, it’s a pretty pleasant experience and a great way to get folks to network as they would in person.
There are a few ways you can do this. First, if you’re an ON24 customer, you can simply enable the chat engagement tool when setting up your event. Second, if you’re a fan of Slack, you can create a free slack group with specific channels aligned to presentations and breakout sessions.
Let’s be honest: if people are attending a virtual event, they likely have at least a half dozen browser tabs open to various social media networks. That’s an opportunity to engage! Assess the various social channels where your audiences live and identify the top two or three. Then, during the run-up to your event, share the hashtags, pages and channels where your event will be active with your audience.
If you want to take things to the next level, set up social media pushes like Twitter chats ahead of specific sessions. Keynote speeches are a good candidate for these. All you have to do is communicate a hashtag to your audience over time and, at the appointed time, use the hashtag as the presenter works their way through their session.
Virtual Happy Hours
One of the nicer things about in-person events is the opportunity to relax and share a conversation over a drink or two at an appointed happy hour. But if hosting an in-person happy hour isn’t in the cards, a virtual one will have to suffice. Fortunately, it’s really easy to organize.
One of the best methods is to set up a room in a group conferencing tool like Zoom. All you have to do is share the room name and passcode ahead of time. Oh, and let folks know that it’s BYOB.
Virtual events, webinars and other digital tools are simply mediums for your message. Meaning, if you want to associate an “in-person” feel to your virtual event, all you have to do is get creative!
Drift’s recent virtual summit, RevGrowth, is a great example. During this event, Drift brought the physical experience to virtual events with lunch workout classes and even an afterparty featuring a live DJ.
Replicating the feeling of an in-person event during a virtual summit isn’t easy. But it does provide attendees with a much-needed opportunity to relax and get the most out of the virtual events in a way that’s familiar to them. So, when you’re planning for your next virtual summit, take the time to identify opportunities to replicate that in-person feeling.