As a production company, we get a lot of questions about virtual attendee engagement. Arguably one of the biggest pain points for planners, driving engagement isn’t quite as hard as one might think. And while we’ve discussed this topic before, we wanted to tackle it again. Because after producing dozens of successful virtual events over the past few months, we’ve learned a lot! Particularly about how to come up with strategies that make attendees happy and eager for more, both during and after the fact.
In the past, we discussed the importance of paying attention to virtual attendee engagement every step of the way. And today, we keep the conversation going, but in an even more exciting direction. Keep reading to find out the most creative and unique strategies to drive virtual attendee engagement!
Back before virtual events were the norm, planners already dabbled in event apps. And one of the great things about this particular piece of event tech is push notifications. Much like the notifications you receive from other apps on your phone – from Facebook to meditation reminders – these kept attendees up to speed.
With virtual events, they become an even bigger ally, particularly where virtual attendee engagement is concerned. Think about it like this: one of the biggest risks associated with virtual events is distractions. Because audiences are participating from home, it’s easy to get sidetracked by the dog or the mailman. But if they receive push notifications about exciting sessions or entertainment sessions, they’ll be reminded to come back and stay tuned. It’s like constantly planting a little seed on your attendees’ minds that will keep growing with each part of the event that they participate in. Plus, with the advent of personalization, you can send each set of attendees different reminders, based on what they are more interested in and won’t want to miss.
Keep Entertainment Alive
Entertainment isn’t over! Remember how at the beginning of lockdown artists and entertainers all around the world came together in beautiful displays of creativity? People weren’t any less excited about bands streaming tiny desk concerts or magicians giving them a free show through their social media channels. And this should serve as a good lesson for anyone who doesn’t believe entertainment should be featured in virtual events.
Look, content matters – a lot. And now more than ever! But while quality content plays a tremendous role in the overall success of your event, it can’t be the only thing you’re providing to the attendees. If your in-person events included MCs, live music, happy hours, and more, your virtual events should too. Arguably, even more so! Like event entertainment expert Paul Creighton told us once, “The minute an event goes virtual, it’s not a meeting, it’s a TV show. And you need to think about it in those terms”. So make sure you budget for some kind of entertainment if virtual attendee engagement is something you care about!
A great way to keep your audience from tuning out during the event is to gamify some aspects of the experience. Everyone is a sucker for a great game, and there’s plenty of room to be creative here! It can be anywhere from a quick trivia game to something that goes on throughout the whole event. A little friendly competition has a way of bringing up a lot of energy and engagement in the people involved, particularly if there’s something to win at the end.
The Gift of…Giving
And since we’re talking about winning something, let’s slide right into gift bags. Particularly over the past few months, we all sort of bonded over the excitement of online shopping. There’s just something extra special about that shot of dopamine straight to your brain every time a package arrives at your door. So why not use this magic chemistry to show appreciation to your audience and drive even more engagement?
Swag bags are hardly a new concept. And let’s get real here – most of the things that attendees used to get were pretty useless tchotchkes that never saw the light of day again. So while delivering something straight to your audience’s door can be a great weapon, make sure it works in your favor and is worth the cost. Instead of t-shirts with your company’s logo why not food delivery services instead? You can even add a dedicated virtual room for people to enjoy their food together!
Oh, polling! Perhaps one of the best tools at a planner’s disposal for increased virtual attendee engagement. But why, you may ask? Well, for starters, if you conduct polling before the event takes place, you’re giving the audience something they love, which is the chance to share their opinion. If people get to have a say in what they would like to see or hear, they’ll be more likely to attend the event and participate quite a bit, since they get the feeling that the experience was quite literally tailored to them.
And if you go one step further and conduct live-polling during the event, even better! Not only will you be presenting people with an activity to be involved in, which instantly drives more engagement, but you’ll also be able to tweak your event. Since you’re receiving opinions and inputs live, you can instantly add something a lot of attendees want to see or get rid of something that people aren’t too happy about. Data is your friend – use it!
FAQs Help A Lot
Yes, planners had it hard when virtual events first came into the picture. But so did attendees, who were thrust into this remote setting without having a clue about what was going on. Even the most user-friendly platforms are a novelty for most people. And what’s a sure way to get someone to give up on a virtual event? Make it hard for them to learn the ropes of the platform where the experience is taking place. Frustrated attendees turn into unhappy customers and no one wants that!
Depending on who your audience is and their level of familiarity with the platform and technology in general, you might want to add a little something. And this can either come in the form of a Frequently Asked Questions page or a series of small, educational videos about how to navigate the whole experience. Remember, it’s about making it as easy as possible for the audience!
Ice breakers are always a good idea when it comes to a group of people who don’t know each other. While it’s an activity that won’t take up a lot of time, it presents a great opportunity for attendees to get more familiar. Whether you decide to break people up into small groups or get everyone in on the fun at once, there’s plenty you can do.
Think something along the lines of trivia games or questions and answers. And if you want to really drive the engagement home with something unique, include mindfulness and exercise sessions in the mix. Why not have a yoga room? Or a meditation professional come in and conduct a session? Be creative with what you offer attendees!
& Build It!
And finally, conduct some team-building activities. Obviously, this will depend on the goals of your event. But particularly if you’re planning an internal conference, these activities will go a long way in promoting virtual attendee engagement. From virtual escape rooms to personalized games that involve elements of your organization, you can quite literally go nuts here. And so can your audience, who’s in for an unforgettable experience!