Aug 25, 2021
Read Time: 5 min
In the past year, virtual events have risen in popularity, partly due to the availability of technology but largely because a global pandemic made them necessary. Your association likely has experienced this change firsthand, with many of your planned in-person events, meetings, and conferences having to pivot to virtual in order to stay on schedule and keep everyone safe.
While virtual events are a convenient alternative, they also lack the face-to-face engagement opportunities that in-person ones have. With a screen in the way, the connections and relationships formed from casual mingling in-between sessions or asking professional speakers key questions is hard to emulate. Because of this, there is also a greater risk of virtual attendees losing motivation and disengaging from the event.
Whether you’ve already planned and executed a variety of virtual events or are still dipping your toes into the water, it’s worth it to take the steps to make sure your next virtual event is more interactive and engaging for members. Here are our recommended tips:
We at Fonteva have worked closely with associations during the past year and have seen how many of them adapted to virtual events and successfully engaged their digital attendees. This article is designed to pass on the expertise we’ve learned from this experience. Read on to dive into each tip and how you can incorporate them into your own association’s virtual event.
Your association events are crucial for member engagement and their satisfaction with your organization. This is because events provide both a valuable learning experience and the opportunity to develop important relationships, two of the major reasons why members join and renew their memberships.
One of the most popular ways to engage individuals online is by incorporating gamification elements.
Gamification is the process of adding game mechanics to a non-game situation. In the same way that people can become invested and motivated in video games, you too can use tips and tricks to engage your virtual event attendees on a deeper level.
Here are the common gamification tactics that you might use:
Incorporating game mechanics not only keeps virtual attendees engaged throughout the event, but also motivates them to continue participating as much as they can. Whether you’re rewarding points throughout the day or setting up a healthy competition, you’ll see member engagement skyrocket during your next virtual event.
A huge missing element from virtual events that traditional in-person ones offer is the relationship-building aspect. Many members join your association to meet others like them, learn from each other, and be a part of a growing community.
This is why you need to put more effort into providing dedicated moments for online community-building.
For instance, before the event, you might create an online forum or discussion group to gather all the participating members. This way, they can come together and discuss thoughts and predictions, as well as even offer ideas to make your event better.
Along with building a community before the event, there are some steps you can take during the event itself. Create more deliberate opportunities for members to engage and network with each other by:
To have all of these functionalities, you’ll need to have capable live streaming or video conferencing tools. re:Charity has a list of live streaming tools that you can explore, some with these features and more.
It’s very likely that your members joined your association to increase their knowledge in your dedicated field or to connect with professionals they can learn from. This is where e-learning comes in.
E-learning has been around far longer than the pandemic, but its popularity has shot up in the past year as necessity grew. Even schools and universities had to pivot from traditional learning to provide classes and courses over video chat and live stream.
You can even incorporate e-learning opportunities into your virtual events! It’s a great way to entice members to register and provide a valuable and unique learning opportunity that they might not be able to get elsewhere. Official certifications or accreditations in your association’s industry are huge draws and might even attract brand new members to your program.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
If you’re incorporating e-learning content into a virtual event, you might consider custom developing your materials so that they apply to your membership and industry directly. This way, you know that your course provides the most value for your members.
One of the best ways to connect with association members during a time when in-person meetings and events are limited is through social media.
Though social media can often be mistaken as a less serious form of engagement, speaking with members on multiple platforms is actually extremely valuable. Not only does it increase the chance of engagement, but it’s also an effective way to meet prospective members and provide spaces for members to talk with each other.
How might you incorporate social media into your association’s virtual event? With social walls!
A social wall is a live feed of your association’s social media engagements with your attending members. With social walls:
Social walls are pretty simple to implement and are extremely easy for your members to get involved with. All they need is to use their existing social media channels whether that’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
As in-person engagements continue to come back, this doesn’t mean that virtual events are leaving. In fact, it’s predicted that hybrid events will be what potential attendees expect from future events. Hybrid opportunities employ the best practices from both in-person and virtual events to create an engaging opportunity for both types of audiences. Use these tips to make sure that in your hybrid events, you’re still actively engaging your virtual attendees. Good luck!
Jake Fabbri, Chief Marketing Officer, Fonteva
With over two decades of experience marketing association technology, Fonteva CMO Jake Fabbri has developed a deep understanding of the unique needs of associations and the challenges technology can solve. Jake’s marketing expertise has been honed by demonstrated excellence in the areas of lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.