5 Tactics for creating a successful virtual conference
It’s the zoom era. Many conferences have gone virtual or hybrid, so how can you create buzz and engagement to make your event stand out?
With strategic planning and targeted use of digital media, you can level up the results of your next virtual conference. Here are five tactics for attracting and engaging potential attendees.
1. Start with a strong registration website
It’s critical that your registration site be simple to access and use – especially on mobile. Let visitors know the benefits of attending your conference and how you plan to approach the event. Anticipate and answer questions about what makes your event different.
While presentations and panel discussions can smoothly transition to a virtual platform, you’ll need to put extra thought into how to foster networking and informal conversations. The opportunity to meet peers and discuss industry issues are some of the primary reasons people attend events.
And of course you’ll need the basics: an event image (logo, photo, or graphic expressing the spirit of your event), conference dates, agenda, and speaker bios. You can also ask speakers for short videos and testimonials to share.
To enhance your event website, consider these suggestions from Hubspot’s David Khim1:
Landing page – make it extra appealing, as it’s the “selling point for your event”
Home page – feature your speakers and the advantages of attending your conference
Agenda page – provide details and key takeaways for your talks
Session pages – showcase conference videos, each embedded on one page
(3 formats: Q&A, recorded lecture, recorded interview)
2. Use the power of social media
Create an event hashtag for social media. Keep it simple, short and memorable. One idea is to use the initials from your conference name and add the year. For example – #BEMC2022 for Best Ever Marketing Conference 2022. Use this hashtag regularly in your social posts.
Tweet and post on your favorite social sites at key points on your conference timeline. For instance, when registration begins, before earlybird signup ends, and weeks/days before your conference starts.
You can also create an email campaign to announce your “Star Lineup of Speakers,” highlight presentations, and remind your audience about registration milestones.
Expand your digital media promotion by reaching out to speakers and sponsors, encouraging them to post about the event to their networks. Make it easy for them by providing the content, such as prepared posts or tweets, excerpts for their newsletters, or an image that includes your event logo, date and their headshot photo. For your own posts, increase viewer engagement with speaker videos of a minute or less (if available).
Twitter has many examples of effective conference marketing – check out #conference. You’ll see conference hashtags, testimonials, pictures of attendees, links to conference highlight videos on YouTube, and more.
3. Increase interest with pre-event blogs
Drive visitors to your registration website with blogs on conference topics, then promote those blogs in social media. Consider asking speakers to write a guest blog, and even help them with some prepared content. A blog enhances their social profile, as they can promote it to their followers.
It also helps speakers attract conference attendees to their talk or panel discussion. Machine Learning Week conferences do an excellent job with this. Take a look at the content they publish on the Machine Learning Times.
4. Capture the excitement with live event blogging
Steven Ramirez, CEO at Beyond the Arc, is a frequent live blogger. Here’s his take on why it works so well:
“Live blogging is fun and a great way to engage viewers. You can vary the format from speaker interviews to commentary to audience reactions. When the event is over, you’ve created new digital media for sharing. And you’re likely to gain more views and responses by including video segments when you post on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social sites.”
Your conference is the perfect place for in-the-moment blogging – even when it’s virtual. You’ll capture the energy of the event and increase your potential viewing audience. Live-blog about presentations with photos or video segments, do short interviews with speakers and attendees, and highlight key moments of panel discussions.
Live blogging provides content for your website, as well as videos and links for your social posts. When this content is shared on followers’ networks – which is likely because live content is highly engaging – you’ll greatly expand your coverage with minimal expense.
5. Sustain engagement by harvesting event content
Your event website is the perfect place to share conference photos, videos, interviews, presentations, and testimonials. Do a blog series that features speakers, panels, and attendee discussions. Add a photo gallery and positive quotes from attendees – both from the event and follow-up surveys.
When you post a thank you to speakers, sponsors and attendees, direct them to the blogs, photos and conference presentations on your website. The conference has given you a bounty of content that you can continue to harvest in fresh and exciting ways.
Moral of the story? Whether you’re moving your existing event online or launching a new virtual conference, the biggest difference is the importance of additional content you’ll want to create before and after the event itself.
BBVA’s Fintech University San Francisco conference was a real-world success based on attendance, engagement, and testimonials. The conference provides a helpful case study to bring these tactics to life for promoting a virtual event.
The BBVA API Market website was the landing page for Fintech University San Francisco. Look below to see the conference logo and hashtag in front of the city’s skyline.
Social media BBVA published conference pictures and posts before, during, and after the event on their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
Blogs, photos and more After the event, the website lived on with short video segments from speakers, a gallery of conference photos, a blog series, and an E-book. This valuable content renewed ideas and insights for attendees, and helps create interest for people considering future events.
Need help to drive interest and registration for your virtual conference?