Despite the resurgence of in-person events, savvy event planners know that virtual and hybrid experiences are here to stay. Now comes the tricky part: how can you best blend event offerings to provide the most value to your community?
Mike Allton, head of strategic partnerships at Agorapulse and virtual event strategist, has hosted more than a dozen virtual summits and webinars and 100+ live-streamed video conversations. Mike joined me ane the #ContentChat community of marketers and content creators to share his best practices for designing engaging virtual and hybrid event experiences.
Let’s break down his top takeaways to help you drive the most success with events this year.
6 Tips For Virtual and Hybrid Event Success in 2022
Event planners who can craft truly audience-focused, problem-solving, and joy-inspiring events will receive the greatest reward from their activities. Virtual event attendee expectations are higher than ever, but these tips can help you create meaningful events regardless of the format:
Be Realistic About Your Team Resources
Any virtual or hybrid event requires considerable effort. Mike says that while virtual events are often less logistically challenging and more affordable than in-person or hybrid events, there are still plenty of challenges associated with hosting them. Assess your resources including your team’s bandwidth to handle an in-person or hybrid event. If you are new to these experiences, we recommend starting small with a simple virtual event before tackling a multi-day hybrid event.
Survey Your Event Communities
Before making any decisions about your upcoming events, speak with your event community. First, you need to deeply understand their current needs and goals for any event type. Then, ask these questions through surveys or in 1:1 conversations:
- How comfortable are you with in-person events?
- What are the “must-have” elements for you to attend an in-person event?
- What challenges are you facing in your job?
- How do you prefer to network and engage with other event attendees?
You can only build a compelling event agenda with presentations that will truly help your audience with these details in hand.
Establish Clear Event Goals
Based on the feedback from your event communities, establish your event goals. Once you know your goals, Mike says you can more easily determine the ideal event format and what you’ll need from your virtual event software platform.
Make Networking and Engagement Effortless
As many of us know from first-hand experience, most virtual events fall flat on networking and engagement. Too often, virtual event experiences are viewed as glorified webinars, which misses the bigger opportunity. As Mike says, “it’s the Magical Moments during networking that make the events stand out for attendees.” To reinforce this priority, schedule networking time in your event agenda. Additionally, create space for attendees to network, including open rooms with conversation prompts to spark dialogue. And don’t forget the potential power of social media to engage your event attendees.
Mike starts his events with 30 minutes of speed networking so attendees can connect 1:1 for five minutes each, meaning each attendee meets six new people first thing. This sort of built-in networking activity can be helpful to break the ice in a virtual setting, especially for your more introverted attendees who wouldn’t otherwise introduce themselves to others.
Offer Different Event Types To Accomplish Specific Needs
For most teams, the best event strategy in 2022 is to offer a mix of virtual, hybrid, and in-person events to appeal to unique community needs. For example, Mike is planning a series of major virtual summits, smaller virtual meetups and webinars, and a hybrid event (likely) in Paris this Fall.
Repurpose Event Content to Drive Ongoing Traffic
Recorded event sessions provide a gold mine of content potential. Repurpose all your event content to offer new ways for your community to engage with the material, including blog posts, infographics, podcasts, social video clips, and templates.
Evolve Your Virtual Event Strategy in 2022
Most people are not ready to give up on virtual events, which presents an incredible opportunity for brands to build on their event successes from recent months. Continue to survey your event community to understand their needs, and explore new event offerings to find ways to delight your community further.
If you’re looking to learn more about creating successful event experiences in 2022, read through the full #ContentChat recap here and learn more about how Social hour can bring your next virtual or hybrid event experience to life.