We have no idea how long the lockdown will last or when we will celebrate together again. However, celebrations are a moment of happiness we feel lingering for days. They are times we imagined yesterday, experience today and reminisce about tomorrow. We need these moments.
Though we can’t gather in one room – celebrations are still possible. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in virtual events and with the introduction of a global lockdown, they’ve gained more appeal. But what is a virtual event and can I host one?
It’s any organised meet-up that takes place online rather than in a physical location. According to Hootsuite, “A virtual event, also known as an online event, is an interactive gathering that happens on the internet. Unlike in-person events, virtual ones aren’t restricted to a single location. A remote attendee can join and participate from anywhere in the world, given he or she has access to the web.”
There are financial benefits to consider too:
- reach a larger audience across different parts of the world
- save on expensive venues, additional staff, vendors etc.
- sponsors can get creative with product placements, branding and product experiences.
In 2018, Coachella’s YouTube livestream brought Beyoncé’s Homecoming to more than 41 million people in more than 232 countries, rather than just the hundreds of thousands in attendance in person. Imagine reaching 41 million people all at once. Each one logged on to actively participate in the experience you created.
So, what virtual events can you host?
Instagram and Facebook Live saw an increase in the number of live interviews between experts. This is a fantastic marketing tool that allows you to showcase your knowledge. However, you need to be prepared and share valuable information – as always, relevant and useful content is king!
TIP 1: check your video background for any distractions, you want a background that adds value to the screen space and isn’t too distracting.
TIP 2: dress for the occasion. If you’re asking people to take time out of their day to tune in then take the time to look your best and tell your interviewee to do the same. Come dressed for the outcome you desire.
Shows and performances
In March 2020 Fortnite (an online game with millions of users) hosted a Travis Scott concert in their virtual reality world. Millions of gamers tuned into the experience. It made news headlines in publications like Forbes Magazine and, to date, it has 9.5-million views on the Travis Scott YouTube page with millions more across other YouTube profiles. The positive impact it had on Travis Scott’s new album, Astroworld, is unimaginable. It’s a moment in history that was perfectly promoted, designed, planned and executed. It will be remembered for years to come.
TIP 3: plan your marketing campaign and make sure you’ve reached an audience that will tune in. Share your event’s success and build a community around what you’ve shared.
TIP 4: if your budget allows it, consider animation and virtual reality. People want a break from reality and transporting them to a new world makes your event extra special.
TIP 5: record your events so you are able to share them digitally after the event – this allows post-event marketing opportunities.
TIP 6: Data is the only way to prove event success. Measuring engagement and capturing attendee data are the only ways to prove event ROI and activate the buyer’s journey. Leading to more sales and potential sponsorships.
Weddings and birthday celebrations
A virtual wedding or birthday celebration is not most people’s dream event. However, it’s our reality. Most planners are encouraging clients to postpone their events but many are not willing to wait. As of 1st May South Africa moves into Level 4 of lockdown, making it possible to be married.
Zoom allows you to invite 100 guests to one “meeting”. So it’s possible to have all your guests to attend your virtual celebration.
TIP 7: make sure you have a reliable internet connection and you share all login details with your guests well in advance. This allows you time to answer any questions in case guests are unsure of how to use the platform you’ve chosen.
TIP 8: it’s your wedding or birthday so make it special. Have fresh flowers, lights and little elements that make it a reflection of the full celebration you had planned.
TIP 9: double-check your microphones and sound before you go live so everyone hears every word you share.
Everyone wants to feel like they are part of something bigger. Therefore, including guests in the experience rather than solely having them as spectators increase the opportunities for continuous support. Restaurants can consider hosting at home masterclasses with their chefs. Simply market the event, the ingredients and tools needed. Invite the public to participate and cook along with you. You could charge a cook-a-long fee.
Yoga and fitness instructors can still host online classes and these can even be shared as a live video on Facebook and Instagram. Aisha Baker and Rushana Isaacs have done this with their instructors. It’s great online content that’s completely shareable. The benefits are numerous for the host as well as the instructor.
TIP 10: make sure you’ve planned the process beforehand and everything is organised well during the live event.