Since March, the world has been inundated with virtual events. Everyone and their grandmother (literally) are hosting Zoom events, Google Hangouts, webinars, birthday parties, the list goes on. And this is kind of our new normal. The majority of community professionals believe we aren't going to go back to in-person events anytime soon.With people now experiencing what is commonly known as “Zoom Fatigue,” how do you make your virtual event stand out? And once you have those RSVPs, how do you encourage people to actually show up?At CMX Connect, our distributed community events program, we noticed a drop in our turnout rate when we shifted to virtual events. The CMX Connect Hosts collectively brainstormed, and came up with some hot tips for getting people to actually attend your virtual events and to help you get butts into virtual seats.
If you've invited someone to speak at your virtual event, encourage them to share the link with their social network. They should be inviting their followers to attend the event! This increases the audience that your event is being marketed to, and the fans of your speaker are more likely to show up!
"We saw a spurt in sign ups every time the speaker posted about the session on their social media. Their followers signed up and also showed up" - Neha, Connect Host, Mumbai India
People need to know what they are going to get out of an event. They need to know why they should make time on their calendar for your virtual event. Use catchy teaser-type language in social media posts, and other advertising, by telling them what they are going to learn and why they should attend!
"We said, ;Would you like to know how the Global Community Program Manager at LinkedIn doubled her community in only 9 months and quadrupled it after 18? Come to the next CMX Connect to find out!'" - Fernando, Connect Host, Lisbon Portugal
There is so much value that comes from events - the speaker, the topic, the discussions, the chat. These are the reasons people attend events, to have the experience live, to get their questions answered, and to connect with other attendees. By recording the event, and sharing them, you can show the people who did not show up, just what they are missing.
"Once they see how good the events are they will be more likely to actually attend a future event." - Valentina, Connect Host, Madrid Spain
When beginning outreach to invite people to a virtual event, it’s wise to start with, and focus your efforts on, the folks who have already attended a previous event! These are people who know the value of your events, who have proven in the past that they will actually show up, and who might even help by posting about it on social media. Spending more time communicating with the people you know, is time well spent.
"Helping even one person attending have an awesome time they feel value could lead to them being a regular and even in some cases bringing in others. It starts with one." - Blake, Connect Host, Research Triangle Park USA
It’s important to know when your audience wants to meet, and every community is different. For some, lunchtime events are the best, most well-attended events. For others, after dinner is the hot time. And, more than just time of day, it’s important to know which weeks or months are good for your attendees.
“Niche audience + webinar fatigue + summer, is definitely a killer combo for anyone organizing a virtual event. In Italy we paused for July and August, and we'll restart in September.” - Alfredo, Connect Host, Milan Italy
Be sure that you have a set of internal guidelines that you have in place to encourage engagement. Being the host of an event is a big undertaking and making sure that you’ve set an environment where folks are comfortable and happy to participate is key. This makes them come back for more!
“Start with a simple welcome question for each event, play music, ask folks to participate, have a chat moderator to further engage during talks, host thoughtful networking, the options are endless. The more interactive the event is, the more engagement you’ll get, which ultimately leads to increased retention and sharing invites to others.” - Ann-Marie, Event Manager, CMX HQ