Newcastle Living Magazine

Edition 6

How to move your event online

In our current world of snap lockdowns and everchanging restrictions, planning events can be a minefield for small businesses. However, many events can be taken online easily and cheaply – and it’s possible to go online even if you aren’t super techy. This can be a great way to get some revenue through your doors if you are forced to cancel your in-person events.

There have been some amazing virtual events held over the past 18 months. Of course, if you were expecting 50 people at your event it’s unrealistic to expect hundreds of thousands to tune in online, but moving an event online can make it accessible to those who may not have been able to attend the in-person event.

Benefits of hosting an online event

When it comes to hosting an event online, there are numerous benefits. Generally, you’ll have much lower operating and marketing costs in comparison to an in-person event as you don’t have to consider typical event aspects such as catering and venue costs. Not only this, but attendees have the benefit of not having to consider the logistics of getting to and from the event which can sometimes stop people from attending.

You will find that you can reach a much wider audience than your geographical location, and it’s a great opportunity to connect with a more diverse audience and engage with more potential customers. Another perk is that it’s often easier to build your list of contacts and collect data via an online medium rather than in person.

“Wineries are holding online virtual tours via Zoom, sending out packs of wine to attendees before the event then doing live tastings and vineyard tours via videolink”

How to move your event online

Choose the right platform

We’re lucky there is now a suite of technologies offering a myriad of innovative ways to hold a virtual version of your event.

Zoom is a good platform for meetings and mediumsized events. Depending on your event, you may need to share your screen or if you want to hold round-tables, Zoom is perfect for this. You also do not need to set up an account as a guest, so this keeps it simple for participants. This is also a good way to control ticketed events, as the Zoom link is sent when a ticket is bought.

For larger virtual events, you should consider live stream software. These are great for big public events and give you a range of live streaming options such as Facebook Live, Twitch, YouTube Live, TikTok Live or Periscope. These can be good options as many participants may already have an active account. Facebook and YouTube also have no participant limit for live streaming, meaning the number of people who may tune in is unlimited.

How to move your event online

Choose the kind of event suitable for your business

Hosting a huge event with thousands of people over a three day weekend is just something you cannot logistically move online. If this is the kind of event you’ve hosted in the past, consider breaking up the event into several online panels, workshops and sessions that you can hold in smaller numbers over a few weeks.

Some wineries are holding online virtual tours via Zoom, sending out packs of wine to attendees before the event then doing live tastings and vineyard tours via videolink while they sip.

For many businesses, thinking outside of the box is necessary to hold a successful online event. Hardware shop? Try offering live DIY tutorials for your customers. Restaurant or bar? Try holding online cooking or cocktail making classes. Bookshop? Try holding a regular Zoom book club.

What you need

It barely needs mentioning that the hardware you need to host an effective virtual event is a highquality webcam and microphone. Besides that, it’s worth looking into a few other digital tools to help make hosting an online event much more pleasant. Most digital tools which make virtual event planning easy can be found in a comprehensive online event management platform. Do your research to find which platform is right for your business – there are numerous options out there, such as Whova and Eventbrite.

Using a registration link is an effective way to collect information and send out bulk announcements to attendees, so if you can’t do this through your own website, using a platform like Eventbrite can be useful for this. This will also manage any payments if necessary.

How to let people know about your event

Make sure you plan ahead with your communications, as it’s easy to get caught out. By developing an event marketing strategy with key dates, you’ll help yourself stay on track. Decide which marketing channels to use, and be sure to review data on past attendees and your contacts/leads.

Often for virtual events, your current customers are the key to spreading the word. Make sure you pre-schedule your communications ahead of time, including email invites, reminders to register, social media ads, reminders to attendees about the upcoming event, as well as any last-minute changes. Using email or SMS to communicate to people who have booked is the easiest and most direct way to correspond with them.

Just remember, as much as it can be disappointing to move an event online, there are heaps of pros, and it doesn’t have to be hard or complicated! Online events can be super fun, all it takes is a little imagination and some planning.