12 Tips for Successful Online Virtual Events from http://dsef.orgWhen was the last time you purchased or sold something online, or hosted an online gathering or meeting? There are many venues and sites out there where you can use to host events, from Facebook to Forums and more. As a business owner, the big questions about virtual events are: How do you get people to come? and How can you encourage people to buy from you once they get there?

Today it seems like everyone is connected on social media, and that makes virtual events more attractive than ever. People don’t have to live in your backyard to participate. However, there are some specific steps you should take to enjoy more successful events. Here are some tips:

  1. Have a clear goal for the event. Will you be looking for sales? Encouraging people to network? Share an opportunity? Be very clear about what you want to happen so that people who come know what to expect.
  2. Invite several ways. Don’t just set up a Facebook Event and forget about it. Text, evite, call (gasp!)…let people hear from you BEFORE you send the official invitation, so that they know that it isn’t just spam. And then send 1 or 2 reminders leading up to the event, including an hour or so before, so people remember to log on.
  3. Make the invitation special and fun. If your event sounds boring they won’t come. So jazz up your invite with some personality, and make sure they know how much fun your event will be.
  4. Special offers. Be prepared to offer a discount, promotion, or other special to encourage attendance. People are more likely to come when there’s something it in for them.
  5. Be brief. Most online events are most successful when they are 30 minutes or less.
  6. Pick up the pace. Online, pace is everything. So be sure to keep things moving with new content and conversation pretty regularly during your event, so people remain engaged.
  7. Make it visual. Images and video clips can help your event remain engaging. Have several of these prepared so you can share them at the right moments during your event.
  8. Don’t overwhelm. If you try to pitch too many products or too many details, chances are you’ll turn off your audience. Instead, focus on a handful of reasonably-priced products or a few well-chosen details and schedule follow-up conversations with those who would like to learn more.
  9. Be social. Make sure you provide plenty of prompts and opportunity for conversation. People are more likely to convert if they are having fun interacting with others.
  10. Provide a call to action. At the end of your event, be sure to provide a clear call to action related to your goal. If you want people to shop, tell them (and offer free shipping if they do so in the next 15 minutes(! If you want people to join, give them a link where they can do it. But be sure to ask for what you want, and provide an incentive to do it within the next 15 minutes.
  11. Get their contact information. Online events are a wonderful way to make new connections, but be sure to follow up! The personal connection you can make with people comes after the online event is over. So send a message to each attendee asking if they have any questions, offering help based on conversations they’ve had during the event, and so on. The personal touch is likely to encourage those on the fence to make the leap.
  12. Stay online after the event. Some people may not share their questions during the event. So be sure you let them know you’ll be around for another 30 minutes to offer personal service, answer questions, and provide help. The more available you are, the more likely it is that you’ll reach your goals for the event.

Today, online events are a part of the ever-evolving business landscape, and the ways we do business create great opportunities for those who can keep up and make business social. When you solve problems and position your business as easy and reliable, you can win customers who keep coming back, and refer their friends.

Have you attended or run online events for your business? What was the experience like? What would you like to improve about the experience? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments!