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The UPS Store Small Business Blog
  • 28 September 2020
  • Jelani Markus

5 Tips for Hosting Your Small Business Virtual Events

While the technology required to host events virtually has been around for a few years now, you could say it wasn’t remarkably popular. Some companies would host webinars and special events for consumers outside of brick and mortar locations, but it wasn’t considered a ubiquitous aspect of business. That all changed this year. With indoor gatherings restricted and more people avoiding big crowds due to COVID-19 guidelines, the moment is ripe for learning how to create virtual events that are effective and interesting. The following tips can help you on your way.

1. Understand the what and where of virtual events

First things first: A virtual event is any event that uses an online platform where a host can interact with an audience of attendees in real time. Webinars, teleconferences, virtual tours and meetups are a few popular examples.

When it comes to hosting a virtual event, some of the platforms used may surprise you. Names like Microsoft Teams, Webex and Zoom are often adopted in business settings and have all understandably become much more popular this year. However, Twitch, Instagram Live and Facebook Live are also highly used platforms for virtual events. Consider your target audience when designing your event. You may be able to strategize meeting them where they already are.

2. Know your goal

With so many virtual event platforms to choose from, the easiest way to make a decision is to really know your

person attending a virtual event and taking a survey

goal. Just because a platform is popular or free doesn’t mean it will include the right features for what you want to accomplish.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your virtual event audience going to be a group of peers?
  • Do you want to have audience participation? And if so, how much?
  • Are you looking to engage existing or new customers with your virtual event?
  • Do you want to charge a fee for access to your virtual event?

3. Preplan for technical difficulties

Now that you have your event and platform all planned out, everything should run perfectly, right? Not necessarily. Whenever you are dealing with technology, hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

If your stream fails, have a dedicated backup platform to which you can easily migrate your audience so your event can continue.

If presentation materials aren’t showing, be sure your attendees have copies emailed to them in advance that they can use to follow along. This practice is also beneficial as many members of your audience will want to review materials again after your event has ended.

4. Promote your event

Just like any other product or service your company offers, virtual events need to be marketed to the audience you want to engage with you.

Use your existing network to help you promote your event. Ask partners and employees to help promote your event through their channels.

Run ads for your event if it makes sense for your return on investment (ROI). A free event may not warrant the use of many paid ads unless you stand to gain many new followers who later become customers.

Never stop promoting, even during your event. Create a dedicated hashtag, and mention it to your audience during your event. Ask that when discussing your event online to please include your hashtag. This is a great way to garner more interest and engagement for your virtual event.

5. Gather feedback

After all your hard work, the best way to understand how well your virtual event was received is to request feedback from your attendees. There are a few ways to do this.

Ask for feedback right before your event ends. If you can handle the real-time feedback, this is an excellent way to gain unfiltered perspective from your audience. However, this method may require a thicker skin.

Create a poll. Many virtual event platforms include a polling function that will allow you to get more in-depth with your questions without asking too much from your audience.

Email your audience soon after the event so their opinions remain fresh. Your sign-up sheet should include all attendee emails. Ask them to respond with brief feedback about what they liked and what they would change.

Virtual events are a great way to “reach out and touch” customers and team members who would otherwise be intangible. Use these tips to help you navigate the new normal and springboard your business into new opportunities.

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