August 27, 2020

4 Alternatives to Live Events

Virtual events and tactics that drive demand-gen success.

August 27, 2020

4 Alternatives to Live Events

Virtual events and tactics that drive demand-gen success.

Cover image Cover image

What you’ll learn

  • Different options and platforms to host your event.
  • The savings and convenience virtual events offer.
  • Best practices to make your digital event highly successful.

Live events are being canceled left and right ever since the COVID-19 outbreak started.

A lot of IT and software-as-as-service (SaaS) companies that relied on live events to improve brand awareness and generate customers have been struggling with finding a suitable replacement for their regular live events.

In this blog post, we’re going to talk about the benefits of hosting virtual events and mention four alternatives to live events that technology companies can organize during the pandemic.

Benefits of hosting virtual events

Virtual events aren’t an inferior replacement for live events. In fact, virtual events are often a better solution for most companies that are considering hosting a live event.

Among other things, virtual events are:

Convenient. First, live events are very convenient for both the organizer and the attendees. They’re a lot easier to organize and manage because there are fewer things to worry about compared to organizing a live event.

Attendees love them because they can participate in the event without leaving their home, which saves them both time and money.

Scalable. Virtual events are also highly scalable. Unlike with live events, there’s rarely any need to think about how many people will be attending the event. Most software solutions for organizing events will be able to handle as many participants as needed.

With live events, on the other hand, companies need to have a good estimate of how many people will be participating in the event so that they can book a suitable venue.

Cost effective. Virtual events are very cost effective compared to live events. A lot of expenses associated with live events (such as venue costs, catering and decor) simply don’t exist when organizing a virtual event.

This makes virtual events a budget-friendly solution for technology companies that are looking to reap all the benefits of hosting an event.

4 types of virtual events technology companies can host during the pandemic

Now that we’ve gone through the benefits of hosting virtual events and why they’re often superior to live events, let’s look at four types of virtual events IT and SaaS companies should consider hosting during the pandemic.

Facebook Live Q&A events

Facebook Live is Facebook’s live streaming solution that both individuals and businesses can use to stream live content to their audience. It’s a great way for companies to host virtual Q&A events and interact with their audience during the pandemic.

Facebook Live streams have shown to be very engaging, generating as much as six times more interactions compared to regular videos shared on the platform.

This makes sense because a Facebook Live session allows companies to interact with their audience directly, answering their questions in real time and engaging in conversations.

Constant Contact - Facebook Live

Image source: Agorapulse

With these types of events, it’s important to address attendees by their names and interact with them as they’re commenting on the stream. This will help to get more people to share their opinions during the event.

Keep in mind that live Q&A sessions are meant to help companies connect with their audience and build relationships with prospects. Companies shouldn’t use these types of events to try to sell their product or service directly.

Finally, it’s important to remember that timing is crucial when it comes to organizing a Facebook Live Q&A.

Before setting a time and date for a Q&A event, companies should analyze the Insights section of their Facebook page to learn when most of their followers are active. This will give them an idea of when would be the best time to schedule an event

Live podcasts

Regular podcasts are a great way for technology companies to share their knowledge with their audience and keep their brand top of mind. However, a typical podcast doesn’t really provide a lot of room to interact with one’s audience.

This is where hosting a live podcast can help. With a live podcast, the audience can listen to a podcast as it’s being recorded. These types of podcasts are a great way to interact with the audience in real time and create genuine connections and relationships with prospects. Since they’re less polished than regular podcasts, live podcasts help to show a brand’s human side and allow companies to have an easier time building trust.

While more engaging than regular podcasts, live podcasts also require more planning.

There isn’t any space for retakes when doing a live podcast, so companies will want to create a loose script that they can use throughout the podcast, as well as make sure that every speaker on the podcast is punctual and fully prepared for their segment.

Online workshops

Online workshops are amazing for sharing knowledge and expertise with an audience. Note that these types of events require more planning compared to other types of virtual events. When organizing an online workshop, it’s important to figure out which topics will be discussed and how they’re going to be covered beforehand. The next step is to find one or more subject matter experts that will hold the workshop. Finally, the organizer will need to figure out how to limit the workshop to a sensible duration to ensure that most participants will stick to the end.

While online workshops might be a bit more demanding to organize, they’re a very effective way for technology companies to build authority and thought leadership, as well as develop genuine connections with their audience.

Virtual roundtables

A virtual roundtable involves a discussion between thought leaders on a particular topic. It’s usually conducted with the help of video conferencing technology.

Virtual roundtables are an excellent method of educating a target audience on a particular topic and providing them with solutions to their challenges.

Virtual roundtable

Image source: YouTube

These types of events appeal especially to the part of the audience that’s interested in listening to an executive-level discussion.

When it comes to deciding on a duration for a virtual roundtable event, research has shown that it’s best to keep it between 60 to 90 minutes. Anything longer than that and there’s a risk of losing a big part of the audience before the event ends.

What is the idea time for a virtual round table discussion?

Image source: Markletic

Limiting the roundtable to 90 minutes is also considerate toward the thought leaders that will be participating in the discussion, all of which are most likely very busy people.

Best practices for hosting a virtual event

Before wrapping up this guide, we’ll go over a few best practices technology companies should keep in mind if they want their next event to be a success.

Plan everything out. Planning is crucial when it comes to organizing virtual events. No matter which type of virtual event a company decides to run, it’s important to decide on a topic and create an outline of the discussion it plans on having during the event beforehand.

When doing this, it’s important to find the middle ground between making the entire discussion seem forced or robotic and being completely disorganized.

It’s also crucial to test any equipment that will be used before the event starts to prevent technical issues that might negatively impact the event.

Promote the event. This one’s obvious but also very important: Companies need to actively promote the event weeks (or even months) before it’s scheduled to take place. This will ensure the event will generate sufficient interest and drive a substantial number of people to attend.

There are plenty of ways to promote a virtual event. Publishing a blog post announcing the event on the company’s website, posting about the event on the company’s social media pages or mentioning it in an email newsletter are great methods of event promotion.

Repurpose event content. Companies should strive to reuse their event content wherever possible to help them generate more leads and customers.

There are a number of ways to do this.

After organizing a Facebook Live Q&A, a company can post it as a regular video to their Facebook page. A live podcast can be uploaded to one of the many podcast hosting and distribution platforms so that it can be available to anyone that wants to listen to it. Workshops and virtual roundtables, on the other hand, can be posted to YouTube or any other video hosting and sharing platform.

Organize a virtual event today

Virtual events are a great alternative to live events during the pandemic. They’re very convenient, scalable and cost effective.

There are plenty of different types of virtual events technology companies can host for their audience. These include Facebook Live Q&A sessions, live podcasts, online workshops and virtual roundtables.

Whichever type of virtual event a company decides to organize, it’s crucial to plan out the event in great detail and promote it weeks in advance in order to maximize attendance.

Finally, it’s also important to repurpose event content to ensure that it assists in generating leads and customers even after the event is finished.

Author:

Kathleen Lauchlan

CEO
Lauchlan

Get started

Learn more about the benefits of ROI-driven marketing for your organization.