In hosting a virtual conference, or any virtual event in that regard, the content of the event is literally everything.
In an in-person event, we can leverage things like the venue location, decoration, stage design, lighting/visual presentation, and others both to attract potential attendees and to maintain their engagement during the event.
We simply don’t have those things in a virtual conference, and so it can be very difficult to build and maintain engagement, and this is why we’ll need to be creative and approach the virtual conference from a new angle.
With that being said, here are some virtual conference ideas we can try to design an attractive, engaging, and successful virtual conference.
Creative Virtual Conference Ideas to Boost Engagement
Leverage different types of content
One of the key advantages of hosting a virtual conference is you can save up a lot of money and time in producing your content since you don’t need to print and physically produce your content.
Leverage this advantage by offering different types of content in different mediums:
- Various forms of video content: webinars, interactive live streams, on-demand videos, etc.
- Q&A, polls, and surveys.
- Interactive social media feeds with links to social platforms.
- Interactive chat room.
- Networking sections.
- Live updates on social media.
- Audio live streams of the conference.
And so on.
Maintain branding consistency throughout all the different content, and design a cohesive schedule for your attendees while considering all these different types of content.
Leverage global reach
With a virtual conference, you are no longer confined to geographical limitations. You can technically attract attendees from all around the world, but you also can widen your scope of speakers and talents/entertainers without having to worry about travel and accommodation logistics.
Thus, you can be more creative in designing your event, as you have a world of possibilities in terms of featured presenters.
A key consideration with this approach, however, is to take things like time zones, language barriers, and cultural differences into account to ensure an optimal experience for both the speaker and your attendees.
Effective utilization of social media
Being an online-only virtual event, it’s pretty obvious to use social media in promoting and running the virtual conference.
The question is, how?
You should leverage social media before, during, and after the event to build hype and maximize engagement, and here are some ideas:
- Use a countdown sticker on Instagram Stories to generate buzz.
- Create an event hashtag. Make sure it’s unique but easy to spell and remember.
- Host contests and giveaways to amplify reach. Involve user-generated content (i.e. photo contests, mentions) in the contests.
- Run polls, Q&As, and other interactive content on social media to actively engage your audience.
Virtual gift bag
When hosting an in-person event, a staple tactic is to give your guest a swag bag filled with valuable items to keep your attendees happy.
How can we apply the same strategy in a virtual conference? The answer is to offer a virtual swag bag with digital gifts that you can send online, for example:
- Gift cards, easy to implement with tangible value.
- Subscriptions to valuable services relevant to the conference.
- Free eBooks/whitepaper.
- Trials for relevant apps.
- Online coupons.
- Free webinar sessions.
- Free courses (i.e. on Udemy).
- Digital content (music, photos, wallpaper, etc.
This might seem like a simple idea, but it can be very effective in convincing your attendees about the value of your virtual conference.
One of the primary obstacles of attendees in attending virtual conferences is the fact that many of them will attend the conference from their homes, where children may be a disturbance.
This is why some virtual event organizers are designing their events to be children-friendly by offering special entertainment for children. If you are targeting parents as your potential attendees, you should also consider offering children-friendly content and virtual daycare activities like:
- Interactive games for children
- Coloring activities
- Video entertainment for children
- Parents and children event (i.e. bring your child to work day)
- Interactive sessions for children
Although virtual events do offer some unique benefits, there are also downsides and disadvantages when compared to an in-person conference.
One of such disadvantages is networking opportunities. A common reason for people to attend conferences is to network with others, but it’s difficult to imitate this in a virtual conference.
Here are some ideas to tackle this issue:
- Maximize the interactive chat feature to encourage everyone to network with each other. Having a good chat moderator is key.
- Pair attendees in private chatrooms to connect with one another (like speed dating) for a few minutes.
- Create specific networking events in-between sessions.
You can set up online shops by setting up a web page or integrating eCommerce capabilities into your social media profiles. By making these shops an integrated experience with your virtual conference, you can engage more attendees while also making these shops a part of sponsorship packages.
You can also attract talents and speakers by offering space in the online shop’s storefront as part of the compensation.
Here are some ideas:
- Send exclusive and time-limited products, for example, you can allow attendees to access the shop up to a week after the event.
- Offer incentives to attendees to visit the shop, for example by offering special discounts or entering attendees in a raffle.
- Actively advertise the online shops throughout the event to maximize attendance.
- Promote the products/items sold on the online shop on social media to attract more people to attend your conference (and the shop).
Above, we’ve shared some of the most attractive and effective virtual conference ideas you can try right away, and you can use these ideas to start organizing a successful virtual conference with a high level of participation and engagement.
However, ideas won’t matter much without the right execution. You still need to carefully plan, organize, and execute the virtual conference well to maximize the number of satisfied attendees. This is where an event managementis crucial to help you plan and organize the virtual conference effectively.
The key to a successful virtual conference is a thorough understanding of your target audience. By developing content that really caters to your target audience’s needs, behaviors, and preferences, you can ensure participation and engagement consistently.