How to Successfully Host a Virtual or Hybrid Event for Your Small Business
Running a small business can be all-consuming. Depending on the size of your company and how many people you work with, it can take time to plan events while overseeing day-to-day operations. At the same time, promoting your business and networking with other professionals and business owners is critical. To capitalize on convenience and marketing, you can explore virtual events' possibilities.
Hosting a virtual or hybrid event can help your business stand out from the crowd and allow you to connect with potential partners and clients. Your event should add value for the participants and build trust in your brand. Here's what you need to consider to host a virtual or hybrid event successfully.
Set a Budget
With any serious undertaking, you have to set a budget before you begin to execute your plans. Hybrid and digital events are no different. While you will likely be saving costs in several ways, there are essential aspects of the budget that you can't overlook, including:
Boosting and promoting your event on social media
Travel and per diem expenses for your speakers and VIP guests
Swag for in-person audience members
Online swag for virtual audience members
Extra staffing to manage rental equipment and event flow
You may have already tried holding a virtual event for your small business, such as an online raffle and giveaway or a live-streaming event to introduce a new product. While live-streaming is a cheap and effective way to engage with potential customers and clients online, there are more sophisticated and exciting online events.
Even though it may increase your budget, an event that includes in-person and online elements is a great way to increase your visibility while promoting your professionalism and technological prowess.
Create Event Buzz
To avoid a disappointing turnout, you must dedicate time and effort to create a buzz for your event. If you advertise early enough, participants might gain interest when it gets closer to the date. On the other hand, if you let people know with insufficient advance notice, you will have a problem with conflicting calendar events. Timing is everything, so study what others in your field do when announcing and posting about events.
Social media is the place to be when increasing interest in your event. You have to consider the necessary budget for boosting posts across your socials, but remember that design and attractiveness are essential factors in getting noticed.
Having suitable graphics represent your event is key to attracting your audience and getting early buy-in. Choose your captions and web copy carefully to get the point across without losing your audience in long text descriptions. Keep your social media channels aligned as you post about your guest speakers and the other exciting elements of your event. Finish up with a countdown clock that shows the time until the live launch, and remember to engage with comments and likes.
As you and your team discuss how to host a virtual event, remember to include a wishlist of speakers. Always choose to host speakers live for presentations. In-person audiences are much easier to engage, and live presentations are more vivid and energetic. You can stream the presentation to an online audience, but there are even more ways to leverage a hybrid event. Here are some ideas:
Simultaneous virtual polling for in-person and online audiences
Real-time word clouds and online discussions that engage both audiences
A virtual picture wall for all participants to share their photos
A hybrid "fair" of rotating online and in-person booths
Connect the Audience
After all your planning, you must remember that the audience is your main priority. One of the challenges of hybrid events is getting your online and in-person audiences connected. It may take some extra planning and facilitation. Still, you can give all your participants better opportunities for networking and more chances for positive experiences if they can connect across the digital and in-person divide.
Here are some successful ways to connect with your audiences:
Host small break-out groups of both in-person and online participants
Hold a networking happy hour with tablets or laptops on-site for connectivity to your online audience
Pair up in-person and online participants at random to exchange ideas and facilitate networking
Create a Video Library Post Event
Whether you host an event virtually or find a hybrid solution, you should always consider capturing video content. You should record every presentation and event and upload the videos to an easily accessible platform. This video library is not only a source of documentation for your company but also a valuable resource for existing and new clients and partners.
As technology continues to move forward at lightning speed, you can take advantage of new possibilities by introducing virtual and hybrid events into your business plan.