The best tips on how to run and host a successful online conference
The advancement of technology and the change in the dynamics of communication with the public are two factors that led to the growth of virtual events.
Courses, meetings, conferences, interviews: at all times, countless events are transmitted over the internet to an increasing number of interested people.
This is a smart solution to avoid the challenges of hosting an event in a physical venue, as this includes hiring staff, accommodating guests, and many other tasks.
Luckily, using the right practices and tools makes it easy to run and host any kind of online conference.
Many brands use this type of strategy to strengthen their online authority. Others implement techniques to monetize these events. No matter your goal, the tips we’ll highlight in this text will help you understand how to take advantage of this type of resource.
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Define your goal
First things first: what do you hope to achieve with your online conference?
This may seem like a trivial question, but having an assertive answer is critical for the rest of the process to be successful. So let’s talk a little about the benefits you can achieve from your event.
As we mentioned in the introduction, one of the possible outcomes of an online conference is the strengthening of your authority.
Why is that? Simple: when people recognize you or your brand as a source of relevant information, they’ll turn to your channels when they want to know more about the issue.
Another objective already mentioned is monetization. Certain online conference tools offer resources to generate revenue for the user. Generally, this happens by selling space to advertisers or by charging a fee to access the streaming page.
Conferences could also be used purely for networking with other professionals in the area, serving as a source of education for your leads, training your employees, etc.
It is up to you to define the objective and, from there, start planning.
Plan ahead for your online conference
You can only plan a successful conference if you know what your ideal audience is. It is, therefore, imperative to specify the buyer persona.
In other words, draw out a profile of the kind of people you want to participate in.
Are they potential consumers? Executives? Students?
Defining the persona will help you in the next stages of planning, starting with the topic to be addressed. After all, the online conference’s content is what will, in fact, determine its success. Based on your niche and buyer persona, you should already have in mind some topics that might be interesting.
It’s always worth researching, too, whether your market competitors have held events of the same type, and what topics they have covered.
As much as you may want to talk about the hot topic, you should be careful not to be repetitive. Look for a theme that can differentiate your positioning.
Also, at the planning stage, of course, you need to set a conference date.
This decision involves many factors, such as the availability of your guest speakers and the very preference of your target audience. Just make sure you leave enough time to promote the event.
Choose a format
It is vital to define the format of your conference in advance, so you can inform those who will be invited to speak to the public.
In some cases, the host prefers the experience to be more interactive, from start to finish. In this way, participants can send questions and comments throughout the session.
You can also devote the first 30 minutes to explaining what the event will be like, making it clear when will be the right time to ask questions.
This intro should also introduce the guest speakers and even stimulate the spectator’s engagement.
Want an example? Imagine you are hosting an online conference on a specific topic, such as the role of Digital Marketing in the sports market.
During the induction, you can offer an interactive quiz to test the attendees’ knowledge about the topic that is about to be addressed.
Once the conference begins, it can proceed to the end without pauses, or it may include a break.
This would be an appropriate time for integration between speakers and listeners, which can also be repeated at the end of the event.
Invite good guest speakers
If it is a conference, it must have a guest speaker. The question is: who?
Based on your planning, conduct a thorough analysis and find names who dominate the conference theme. It is important that those chosen are recognized in their areas and enjoy the respect of your target audience.
In addition, it is not enough for them to be experts. People who will speak at your conference should have experience and the ability to deal with the audience, especially in the digital environment.
After all, there is a difference in dynamics when talking to a virtual public.
If you feel it is necessary, you can invite more than one guest speaker. However, it is absolutely essential to have well-structured planning before inviting experts.
The invitation must be very specific, indicating the subject discussed, the duration, the number of attendees, etc.
As it is an online event, your possibilities are much broader than a traditional conference.
After all, it is not necessary to bear travel or accommodation costs if you want to invite speakers from other regions. All you need is a reliable platform to hold the event.
Pick a platform
Choosing the platform to host your online conference is one of the most important decisions of the whole process.
At the end of the day, you can only access all the benefits of this type of event if you have a tool that offers the necessary resources. What resources are these, you ask?
One of them is monetization. Before choosing the platform, check if it creates the necessary conditions for your brand to generate revenue from the conference.
But money is not everything. It is crucial to verify that the platform has the necessary stability to sustain a large number of simultaneous attendees. The last thing you want is a slow, crashing transmission. That would destroy your brand’s digital reputation.
To avoid this kind of problem, another feature you should pay attention to with live event platforms is their support. Give priority to companies that offer quick and efficient technical support. In the end, it all comes down to optimizing the audience experience.
If you want to add more value to your online conference, look for options that allow you to insert interactive elements into the event. Quizzes, Q&A, and polls are some features that can make the experience much richer.
If all goes well, you will also use the conference to collect data from attendees. It’s just that every time they interact with one of these elements, they give you signals to better understand their characteristics and behaviors.
Also, find out about the possibility of integrating the platform with some of the most relevant social networks. That way, you can implement user-generated content at the event by adding, for example, tweets commenting on the development of the conference.
Promote the conference
Conference promotion should be initiated only when you feel your plan is concise, and that you can count on the right tools to ensure the event is carried out successfully.
The strategy depends on the characteristics of your company. If you already have a strong marketing department, you already have an idea of leads that may be interested in the experience.
Don’t overdo the number of messages, but ensure that the conference stays alive in their memories.
Also, do not limit yourself to invitations and descriptions of the event. A good idea is to include the conference promotion in your Content Marketing strategy.
For example, create blog posts with topics related to the theme to arouse readers’ curiosity. In the end, insert a CTA inviting the user to register and receive updates on the conference.
Your social networks are also powerful weapons. Create posts at strategic times on Instagram and LinkedIn to generate expectations about the event and, if possible, convince the guest speaker to record a quick message inviting everyone to participate.
If it fits your budget, it is also worth boosting your campaign posts.
Remember we talked about user-generated content coming from social media? How about creating a custom hashtag and inserting it in all pre-event posts?
Besides creating awareness, this will allow users to find all the information about the virtual conference in one place.
Monitor the results and continue the dialogue
Suppose you don’t have the data to understand audience satisfaction, the scope of the conference, and the rate of engagement at the end of the conference. In that case, you will lack information essential to your actions in the future.
Therefore, we reinforce the importance of having a tool that allows you to collect this data.
For example, how many spectators were there from the beginning to the end of the event? How many responded to the polls entered during the conference?
The answers to these questions can give you a good idea of how successful the event was. By analyzing the data, you can take steps to achieve even better results in the future.
Above all, it is important to understand that the efforts are not over when the broadcast comes to an end. It is important to follow up with the viewers.
At the end of the event, invite them to check out your other channels or become members to have access to more content like that. Show that you care about their experience.
If the platform you use allows you to record the conference, this could be a golden opportunity to generate even more qualified content. Short excerpts from the event, for example, can feed your YouTube channel.
Just be careful not to make everything available to the public, as this may diminish the perceived value of participating live in your virtual events.
If you consider the content of the conference something really above the ordinary, it is worth thinking about turning the material into an online course or even a series of webinars.
If you’ve never held an online conference, the idea may seem a bit complicated. But believe us, it’s not!
Without the obstacles of traditional conferences, virtual conferences allow you to access a much wider and more segmented audience. More than that, they increase the possibility of having good guest speakers.
So it’s up to you to plan your virtual conference based on the tips we’ve passed in this text. Plan ahead, promote the event, choose a suitable format, and, most importantly, pick the best platform.