Two weeks ago, a video of a Tesla parking lot during a software update, looking something like a Dubai light show, went viral. Around that time, an old acquaintance posted on FB, minutes after ordering the model 3 online, still not believing he’d done that. And yet, no matter how much Tesla’s stock continues to rise, it seems to only fuel the ongoing debate around whether or not Tesla is disrupting its industry. Many blame the hype on its celebrity founder. Others claim that it’s not the first electric car, nor did it revolutionize the ones that came before.
As for the technology under the hood, they’re probably not entirely wrong. However, from the moment of purchase to the moment you start it, and then when you’re cruising along – it just doesn’t feel like any other car out there, electric or fossil-fueled. What Elon Musk realized, If I may speak on his behalf here, is that to get people to buy the car of the future, it needs to feel like something from the future, not mimic past experiences. That’s the real disruption.
We’ll need to apply the same logic to make virtual events work. So far, the basic experience underneath it all – a person on a stage talking to a crowd – hasn’t changed too much. That’s OK. Even a Tesla still looks like a car and feels very much like one when you drive it from point A to B. In some respects, there might even be a few inherent drawbacks in the ways of the new. It’s the overall experience, enhancing every second of the ride, that matters.
A key difference with virtual events, and one that makes them especially ripe for disruption, is that they’re not a single occasion. At least, they don’t have to be. With the right planning and technology, virtual event platforms can turn into an ongoing knowledge hub where the larger event serve as highlight and benchmarks – not the full story. Organizers and users can continue creating and uploading content after in-between events, clearing the way for continuous discussions and interactions and uplifting attendees’ experience.
If all that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a lot like building an engaged and vibrant online community. And much the same, it’ll require work to thrive. The good news is that at this point, community builders have accumulated a considerable understanding of how to do it right, which event organizers can now learn from.
Define Your Community
The first step towards building a thriving community is defining your target audience and then making out their needs and wants. Hopefully, you’ll have done that for your event’s agenda and speaker list. Keep the same audience in mind when deciding on your community’s nature and vibe, but there’s a good chance that several other groups would be relevant for your community. Similarly, some target groups from the event might not constitute your community’s focal point eventually. It might be tempting to cater to them all, but better not spread yourself thin.
Try to strategize in advance and figure out which audiences will most contribute to your community and benefit from it. Although a clear strategy can double the chances of offering proven value, only 14% of organizations have one approved. Rise above the statistics and do better. Consider creating separate groups or merging them by finding a mutual point of interest. Most importantly – base your decisions on data whenever possible.
Base Community Management Decisions on Data
Data helps you define your community. That’s where community management leans less on creativity and turns into a numbers game. There’s no better way to understand what works for your community, who watches your videos, where, when, and how, as well as engagement levels, content generation, and growth than by measuring and tracking relevant metrics. And there’s no surer way to find what and how to improve both your content and targeting.
Encourage Content Creation
Your content has to stay fresh and up to date. It’s also vital that it comes from diverse resources to create a sort of dialogue that’s never ever monotonous. Your best resources are your community members or event attendees. UGC is a testament to an engaged audience and community. Then again, coming up with new ideas and turning them into well-crafted content takes skill and talent. Community managers consider content creation their most significant challenge.
Offering video creation that is easy to master and fun to use could come a long way. Just look at what the kids are doing on Tik-Tok when given the right tools. You might not want to go easy on the special effects and stylish edits to maintain a more strict code of conduct for your business community. Still, you’ll want to find that sweet spot that’ll let in creativity, lighten the burden, and add a variety of voices and opinions. Furthermore, community surveys from different social networks also show that video is the best performing and most engaging content type.
Bring the Community Closer
Treating your community as a whole without encouraging more personal encounters is a common mistake. Instead, encourage members to get to know one another as well as the group’s admins. Create spontaneous and some less unexpected networking opportunities. Use games and challenges to keep it on the lighter side of things. You can also invite members to comment and share knowledge, ask for feedback whenever you can through interactive polls, and feature periodic spotlights on members through video profiles.
Once social distancing requirements are lifted, you can arrange for in-person get-togethers based on shared interests and geographic locations. In the age of hybrid events, consider hosting more local events offline to form the perfect omnichannel experience.
Eye on the Prize
Your community was created around a virtual event and should continue to serve that purpose, promoting your brand and future conferences. Maintain a strong connection between the brand, event agendas, and your community’s content, members, and initiatives. Remind people of past and future events, post video highlights and memories, encourage future event sign-ups, and scout for ideas and speakers within the group. These actions will keep you focused, promote various event marketing goals, and encourage content creation.
Event marketers’ role is quickly changing to include many new responsibilities and, as a result, also new skills. Choosing a virtual event solution that offers all the features discussed here and more can help make this a successful transition and perhaps even more straightforward. Not sure where to start? Contact Kaltura’s virtual event specialists before your next event and consider us a part of your community.
Want to Learn More About Virtual Events?