The Virtual Event Evolution: The Intimate Audience Impact
The Evolution Continues
As I mentioned in the previous blog post on hybrid events, before I came to The Mx Group, I spent many years in the event planning industry. I witnessed firsthand the quick transition from in-person to online events. There were many successes as well as mistakes and lessons learned, but the major takeaway I observed is that the event landscape is not stagnant. Virtual events continue to transform almost as rapidly as technology, steered by digital transformation. My previous post explored how offering a hybrid option for a virtual event is the next step in this process, but what about the advancement on content engagement? How can B2B marketers keep their audiences involved with virtual activities when those audiences’ schedules are flooded?
Virtual events continue to transform almost as rapidly as technology, steered by digital transformation.
Making Room at the Table
Another advantage to hosting a more intimate content session directly benefits the more Zoom-fatigued and introverted in your audience. It is a common assumption that a computer screen creates a barrier that could help with stage fright (or rather, screen fright). However, there are still many folks who can be overwhelmed by the idea of 100-plus strangers’ eyes always staring at them. Also, let’s be honest, we’ve all been to at least one crowded, online event where multiple people had something to say but no one could truly be heard once everyone started talking over each other. You want to create virtual activities that encourage attendees to voice their opinions and interact. A more intimate audience fosters the idea that everyone in attendance at this session is there for a reason, has something meaningful to say and can positively contribute to the conversation.
Tips to Stay Engaged
Now that you have the right, targeted attendees in your virtual space, it’s important to use tactics that will help keep their attentions. Remember, your attendees are human beings. You need to consider the full scope of their day. No one wants to idly sit in front of a computer screen for hours on end. Here are some ways to encourage active engagement and make the biggest impact on your attendees:
- CREATE AN EXPERIENCE
Incorporate interactive elements into your session. It can be as simple as enabling Q&A chats so attendees can interact with subject matter experts. Or loosen things up with wine tastings or maybe even a pet parade. In Demand Gen Report’s 2021 State of Virtual Events, Steve Daheb, CMO at ON24, shared, “We had fun with ‘petworking,’ which allowed attendees to enter breakout rooms to watch adoptable puppies and cats … People want interesting, interactive content. The more personal you can make it, the better.”
- BE VERSATILE
Adapt opportunities from the physical event realm into the virtual world. Elements like breakout rooms can create openings for sidebar conversations like what an attendee would have experienced at an in-person conference. However, it is important not to force the networking. Let it happen organically. Take your already-intimate audience and create an even smaller, personalized group, and invite them to join a live mentor session that directly correlates to their needs and questions.
- FOSTER FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
Make your session too stimulating to miss by promoting the necessity for live interaction. Virtual activities that are discussed through live sessions like think tanks or roundtables help foster the notion that participation is key to making the session a success. Focus the think tank on one specific topic, pain point or question. Target audience members who share that challenge and pair them with attendees who have stories and lessons learned about their journey to a solution. Let your attendees know that their insights on the topic are valuable for any audience member in attendance. You never know if your story will answer someone else’s question.
- FOLLOW UP
Sometimes, no matter how targeted or exciting your content might be, people just have busy lives and cannot attend. Don’t exclude them from the useful insights shared during these intimate sessions. Include them by disseminating captured insights, useful links and summaries of stories shared. Continue your event marketing by inviting them to reach out to you if they want to be introduced to a thought leader for follow-up questions. And be open to planning postscript sessions and inviting interested parties back for more Q&A to help continue the conversation.