Switching to a virtual conference requires a new way of thinking for brands that don’t have a lot of experience with digital events yet. One of the frequent questions is: “All right, we’re using a virtual conference to meet with clients, employees, and leads this year – but what sort of content should we be creating for this conference?”
Fortunately, there are many ways to switch in-person presentations and materials to a virtual world, but some assets are much better than others at conveying meaning and providing long-term value. If you want your virtual event to be a success, here are the assets you should be including.
Web Page Devoted to the Conference
This is one of the most important assets for virtual events, and someplace brands should have in place ASAP. The webpage should clearly lay out what the conference is, what will be discussed, what each section will focus on, and who is speaking. Date and time information should be made clear, and you should have a web form available so visitors can sign up to learn more or request an invite to the conference (and possibly a portal for potential speakers as well). Without this page in place, getting participants for the conference will be a challenge.
In addition to a production plan, have a promotional plan in place too! Let your online audience know about your conference, and send guests reminders so your conference date isn’t lost in their busy scheduling. Prepare blog posts, social media posts across the weeks before the conference, and emails to your current clients or leads. If you have any affiliate marketing partners, see if they will mention the conference to their followers as well.
Your virtual conference doesn’t need to have a lot of livestreaming, but it should have at least some livestreaming content. This is important for engagement (participants need to feel like the virtual conference is worth attending in real time, or they won’t bother), and helps make your brand seem livelier and more relatable.
If your team doesn’t have much experience in livestreaming, we suggest that you practice, practice, practice. Find the conferencing app that works best for you, and start recording informal livestreaming sessions amongst yourselves to see how it works. When you get more confident, start practicing specific livestreaming sessions you have in mind. Decide if you will have a chat monitor to help answer chat questions, and make a plan for what to do if you run into technical difficulties.
Guest speakers typically have experience with this medium, but if livestreaming makes your team a little nervous then it’s a good idea to arrange livestreaming as a panel or two-person discussion (see most popular podcasts for an example), which allows information to flow more easily in a friendlier environment.
While pre-recorded video can feel very formal at a conference, it also has a lot of advantages when used within reason. First, it helps a brand created very targeted, high-quality video for impressing participants and conveying complex information, without the change of livestreaming stumbles. Second, pre-recording video allows brands to show special footage of operations, sites, and employees that isn’t possible when going live. Third, pre-recording allows popular speakers to create a session for the conference, even if they can’t be there in person due to time constraints or the general conditions of 2020 and beyond. If you don’t have much experience in producing high-quality video, Blue Marketing can help with this.
A Q&A session is an open-ended type of asset that can be incredibly valuable for your participants, and requires relatively little prep time for experienced presenters. While you may be used to doing Q&A sessions in person, there’s no need to worry about switching over to a digital version after a conference session. All major web conferencing tools, from Zoom to Microsoft Teams, include group video chat options where everyone can speak, along with administrator tools for muting or favoring speakers so you retain control. You can also choose to do Q&As with the associated chat functions, or split participants off into virtual discussion rooms, if that works better for your team. You don’t have to record these discussions, but it could be very useful to put together a highlight reel for those who weren’t able to make the conference.
Video Files and PDFs
These days, follow-up video files and PDFs should always be a part of your process after an event is over, whether it is virtual or not. With virtual conferences, these assets are even easier to create. If you are new to a conference tool, we highly suggest experimenting for a while with the recording features until you are confident in how to start and stop a recording, as well as how to record a particular window being shown if necessary.
If you’re using any slideshows or showing video guides within the virtual conference, make sure those files are also included in your follow-up. It’s good practice and common courtesy to quickly send out an email to all participants with these materials attached. Your team should also use these files as inspiration and select content for future blogs, social media videos, and other types of ongoing content that can continue to provide value for many months into the future. Blue Atlas Marketing can help create a strategy for implementing this content for the long-term!
Virtual conferences allow for versatile use of a variety of assets to enable your message, and many in-person presentations can be converted to virtual forms with a little practice. Have a plan, start working on content very early on, and your conference will be a success: Many advise that you start creating assets 16 to 20 weeks ahead of the planned event, so now is the time to get started!