In the past two months while sheltering at home, I’ve bene invited to a virtual concert, virtual wine tasting, virtual work out class and several virtual happy hours. Suddenly, virtual events have become the norm and even as some states begin to lift stay-at-home orders, it’s likely virtual events will be here to stay. That means, as marketers, we need to become as adept at planning virtual events as we are at planning in-real-life brand experiences.

To begin planning your own virtual event, refer to our blog post on event planning, as many of the same principles apply – like answering the 5Ws. Who is the target audience? What kind of virtual event is it? When will it take place? Where is the virtual event taking place? Why are you hosting this virtual event? However, while the general concepts of event planning apply to any event, virtual or not, there are other logistics you should take into consideration when taking your event online.

The line-up

Make an agenda or run of show for your virtual event. What do you plan to accomplish during your time on screen? Are you trying to entertain the audience, educate them or inspire? As with social media, virtual events should work to solve a problem (see our blog post on takeaways from Social Media Marketing World 2020).

Also consider the length of the event. If your event is too long, viewers may grow tired and viewership could drop off. If your event is too short, you may not be able to engage viewers or accomplish what you planned to.

Consider who will be your co-host. Having another person on the screen is highly effective for virtual events. With two (or three) hosts, the virtual event will feel more like a conversation or TV segment and make the event more engaging for viewers.

Event Logistics

Where you host your virtual event is equally as important as where you would host one physically. If you’d need more control over who registers and attends, you’ll want to host your event on a meeting platform like Zoom. If you want your audience to be farther reaching and enable more engagement, Instagram Live will be a better platform for your event. And if you do decide to use social media for your virtual event, it’s a good idea to engage your audiences across all social platforms. If you’re able to coordinate the logistics, hosting your virtual event on both Instagram Live and Facebook Live will ensure a broader audience.

Another very important factor for any virtual event is your internet connection. One or two weeks before your event, confirm that your internet connection is fast enough for live streaming. You’ll want to work out any technical challenges well before the virtual event day.

During the virtual event, will your audience need any physical items in order to participate? For example, if you’re hosting a virtual wine tasting, you will want to let your audience know which wines you’ll be tasting well before the event day and provide ample time for ordering and shipping the wine.

Help Spread the Word

Possibly the most important part of your virtual event will be promoting it. You’ll want to promote the event on as many platforms as possible: your social channels, your email lists and your website. Get creative and think about other people or companies in your circle that can help promote your event. New accounts like The Virtual Tasting Room are even popping up to help spread the word about virtual events.

Keep Viewers Engaged

During your event, you’ll want to keep viewers engaged. This can be accomplished in many ways – so have fun with it. Maybe you’ll want to partner with another brand to do a live giveaway during the event or do a Q&A with your audience. If this is a recurring event, perhaps you’ll want to set a recurring segment or theme for your virtual events, so that viewers know what to expect and look forward to.

Just because we’re quarantined doesn’t mean we can’t have human connection – we need it more than ever. Now may be the perfect opportunity to provide your audience with an engaging, virtual event.

– Alexis Karis