Engaging Online Audiences at Events: 3 Strategies

So , you’ve made a decision to host a virtual or hybrid event.

You’ve spent weeks flowing over the details, from coating up entertainment, to marketing the event everywhere , to creating a pain-free registration process. Your team has put significant time and energy into planning a stellar event … so , the last thing you want is for guests to mentally “check out” 15-minutes into it!

At Handbid , we’ve assisted hundreds of nonprofits host charity auction events and increase over $250 million since 2010. We’ve watched firsthand as those events had been pivoted to the virtual plus hybrid sphere. And, although it can be a bit more challenging to help keep a virtual audience engaged— after all, “Zoom Fatigue” after a few years of connecting via personal computer screens is real— we’ve also seen how businesses have developed new and revolutionary ways to catch and keep the attention of their online audiences.

We’re sharing a few of those tips today to help you keep your online audience engaged in your next event. Let’s begin!

Making the Event Easy to Join & Appreciate

Have you ever reached an event and been a little unsure about what you were supposed to do as an attendee? Perhaps you didn’t know which conference room to go to or where to sign-in and get your name tag. It’s a nerve-wracking feeling that you don’t want to replicate for virtual or hybrid guests!

The last thing you want is for guests in order to fumble with their technology while trying to join your occasion, and as a result, miss the start of the event itself. Your goal should be to make it as easy as possible to join and participate in the event.

For example , when hosting online charity auctions with nonprofits, we equip guests with the ability to share a direct link to their own online auction. Then, occasion guests simply need to click the link to participate! For your event, you could share a direct link— or, when the process will be a bit more difficult, consider creating a one-page reference or an invitation email that walks guests with the steps to join in plain vocabulary.

An organized process from start to finish allows guests to focus much less on how to engage with your event, and more on the engagement alone.

Pulling On the web Supporters Back Into the Event

Here’s the thing:

Even if you are watching something that aligns with your interests and is exciting from start to finish, it’s easy to “zone out” when you’re staring at the screen. If you’ve ever been binge-watching a new release and received a slightly-shaming “Are you still watching? ” message (Netflix, we’re looking at you), you realize how easy it is to basically lose focus.

It’s inevitable that, through no fault of your event by itself, you’re going to lose the attention of a few folks along the way. That’s fine! It just means you need to incorporate a few strategies to re-engage your supporters— your personal “Are you still watching? ” message, so to speak.

Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:

  • Sms or push notifications. For example , for charity auctions, we’ve used texts and push notifications in order to let guests know when they’ve been outbid. After that, they can virtually “hop” back in the event and make their own counterbid. Outside of the fundraising event context, you could use this idea to give guests a head’s up before event classes or entertainment starts.
  • Polls plus surveys. This particular idea not only re-engages visitors but also lets you learn a bit about the individuals who are attending your event. You can ask guests to give their opinion on the specific topic discussed, answer trivia questions, or even answer general questions about themselves and why they’re attending your event.
  • Competitions. Few things are more engaging than a little healthy competitors. There are a number of ways to utilize it throughout your event. For instance , you could have a running trivia contest throughout the event, randomly posing trivia questions plus keeping track of which guests answer the most correctly. The winner gets a prize! Or even, you could split guests up into teams, and have all of them complete engagement-related tasks through the entire event. The team that will completes the most tasks benefits!

These types of ideas aren’t meant to be the particular backbone of your engagement technique. Instead, these are the quick, eye-catching strategies that you sprinkle throughout the event— so , in case a guest “zones out” plus finds themself staring at the wall rather than paying attention to the big event activities, they can quickly become wrangled back into the main occasion.

Driving the Event to the Finish Line

Have you ever attended an event that didn’t have a obvious ending? Maybe the excitement slowly died down as it got later in the night and guests trickled out as the event lost vapor.

We discussed making a positive first impression at your event. But you also want to make sure the event includes a strong “pace” from start to finish, providing equally joining moments from opening to the eventual ending.

Keep the following tips in mind to drive your event from the opening to the finish collection, maintaining steady engagement along the way:

  • Provide updates throughout the event. For example , in the event that it’s a fundraising occasion, you might project a fundraising thermometer to show guests how much has been raised and how much needs to be raised to reach your own goal. If you used some of the competition ideas from the previous section, you could provide improvements on who is “winning” competition at different intervals.
  • Feature a live presenter when applicable. For nonprofits hosting charity auctions, this is where an auctioneer would step in to chant through auction items or perform an charm. However , for other types associated with events, it’s still useful to bring in a charismatic emcee to provide some entertainment between event sessions.
  • Consider making the event 4-dimensional. For instance , you could mail a meal (or even just some snacks) to guests for them to enjoy through the event. Or, you could include a tutorial session in which visitors make something alongside the presenter, again mailing the required items to guests in advance of the big event itself. These ideas can draw guests into the event and make it seem more intimate and less such as they’re connecting with your group via a computer screen.

When you livestream an event, it can feel like you’re speaking out into the void. With these ideas, you’ll not only keep up the pace of your event from start to finish, yet you’ll decrease the digital “space” between your team plus event guests.

While it can be more challenging to interact online audiences during digital and hybrid events, there are strategies that you can use to keep their attention from start to finish. From making the event simple to join, to using fast tactics to pull guests back into the event, to driving the excitement from beginning to finish, these strategies are a great kick off point for your next event. Best of luck!

Jeff Porter , Founder & CEO of Handbid, has spent 18 many years in the nonprofit industry. In 2004 he founded the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association of Colorado where he still resides as board chair. Jeff learned early on that nonprofits desperately needed better and much more affordable fundraising solutions. Using his software background, he built most of the tools their charities used, and in last year he launched Handbid with his own fundraising event. The particular goal was to improve the guest experience, reduce administration and increase revenue. Handbid accomplished all of those goals, effectively doubling revenue in its first. Nine years later, Handbid’ s suite of equipment has delighted over a half-million guests, generated millions of offers, and helped thousands of charities raise well over $100 million.

The post Engaging Online Audiences at Occasions: 3 Strategies appeared first on Marketing Insider Group .

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