How to move your event online

A 7 step guide to transforming your in-person event into a digital experience.

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For obvious reasons, the world is realizing the need for online events and how beneficial they can be. Indeed, in many ways, online events surpass in-person ones. Still, the prospect of turning your event into a virtual one, or creating one from scratch, can be daunting. That’s why we’ve created this handy step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Step 1: Define what you’re trying to achieve

Begin with your goals, what are you trying to achieve? From this, you can set your focus point and theme. I recommend defining three jobs that you’d like your event to achieve, this might be to increase brand awareness, generate a certain number of leads or achieve a specific level of attendee engagement and satisfaction. Without clear goals, you risk being distracted by ‘shiny things’ that don’t add to your purpose.

Step 2: Decide how you will engage your audience

During a physical event, your audience’s attention is semi-captive. When they’re bored, they can wander around, visit the lobby, strike up conversations and visit the nearest coffee bar - but they remain on-site. With an online event, you’re expecting people to pay attention on a device that has many distractions built-in by design. This means your topic must be highly engaging, clear, specific and motivating. 

People engage with events because they are useful and relevant to them. Your event must add value to their daily life. Better still if your theme can bind people together through a shared purpose or experience.

Online events have an edge over physical ones because you’re not constrained by geography or mobility. By nature, online events are more accessible - but this means you must think carefully about how to engage a global audience.

But if you get this right, people will remain engaged long after your event has finished. With online events, there are more ways to connect people to each other post-event. Including posting user-generated content, further insights from speakers and sparking discussions based on the event.

Step 3: Choose your experts and programme topics 

If you have an active Zapnito community, then this step will be relatively simple as your channels and rooms will be clear indicators of topics and messaging that your audience already engages with. Similarly, your most active and popular contributors are a great starting point for deciding who your experts will be. 

If you don’t, then this will require more time and research. Choose people and topics that align with your goals, core messaging and popular trends that you find online. Seek out the channels and communities where your target audience spends much of their time, and see what topics arise time and time again. 

Step 4: Set-out your format 

Consider how your event will be set-up. This will depend on your audience, speakers and goals. You can run plenary sessions with core themes, and then host breakout ‘rooms’ and workshops for more in-depth and intimate discussions. With Zapnito, you can set-up rooms that attendees can join, and these can either be gated or open to all participants. Likewise, you can have sponsored rooms to increase brand awareness for your sponsor and drive revenue for your event. 

Hosting smaller workshops and rooms can help your audience tailor content to their exact interests and needs. Given the smaller group size, it can also foster deeper relationships and connections. 

You can also host live video panels, much like a panel discussion or roundtable, with up to 12-panel speakers, which can be recorded and published. If the live interaction with the audience is vital, Zapnito’s webinar integrations offer audience Q&A during the event.

Step 5: Consider on-demand 

This may be a great opportunity to think about your delivery. Rather than attempting to replicate the in-person event online, as many event tech providers do, consider your audience. This Forbes article, Events are going digital, should your company follow?, highlights the need to respect your audience’s schedules and constraints now more than ever. 

Think about how you can package your event content to make it engaging, and easy to digest— in a way that works with the hectic home office environment. Zapnito’s video panel tool mean it couldn’t be easier to create an on-demand version of your event. Your audience can access on their own time, when they are most engaged and ready to learn and be inspired. 

Step 6: Think about participation

The real value of an event comes from participation, not just learning from speakers but also your peers. With Zapnito, there are several ways to encourage engagement and relationship-building. 

Before an event, you can share pre-event editorials from your experts and start conversations around your core themes. During the event, you can run live Q&As in your sessions. Afterwards, those sessions can be published to engage with members who weren’t able to join live. The discussion doesn’t have to be limited to a fixed time frame, like at a traditional event. This is the great thing about moving online.

You can also create follow-up content, looking at common questions from the event or by asking a speaker to create a guest article, to nurture the conversation and keep progressing it forward.

Step 7: Making your event last, 365 days a year

Your community is the essence of your event. Nurturing this is key to continuing conversations and engagement beyond your event. This will deliver value throughout the year, that will make your attendees return for future events time and time again.

From bringing together professionals and industry influencers to work better together, sharing knowledge to advance a specific topic, to connecting people across the world. Think bigger about what your attendees want from your event - this year, next year and beyond.

Laura Templer

Head of Customer Success, Zapnito

I have worked in the publishing industry for 8 years in academic journals and corporate publications, developing expertise across a variety of subjects from print logistics to content marketing. Please get in touch with any questions and I hope to be able to help you develop a successful Zapnito community.

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