Last Updated on October 7, 2021
You already know how powerful Facebook is from an event management perspective (and how important), and what it can do for event marketing and promotion. Social media is probably one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. This is true regardless of what type of event you’re running.
That said; Facebook’s got a few features that make it uniquely-suited for virtual events. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. How can you use Facebook to supercharge your virtual events, and make them better than ever before?
Look For Inspiration Online
According to Adrianne Mellen Ramstack, Facebook is more than just a promotional platform. It’s also a fantastic source of inspiration, and a place you can readily look to for interesting, innovative ideas. Surely, you have a few friends in the events industry, right? Tap into them for a few creative ideas that’ll make your online event shine, and look at some of the events they’ve run in the past.
Better yet, why not have a look at the Facebook pages of a few major brands or event management firms? There’s a good chance you’ll eventually find something that catches your eye. At that point, it’s just a matter of integrating that idea into your own concept.
Make Facebook Your Hub
Facebook has a long history of catering to event planners – and it’s made no secret about wanting to be the go-to platform for event management. That makes it the perfect hub if you’re running your event entirely online. While a well-designed events page is invaluable to promotion, with a virtual event you can actually do a bit more to enrich the experience of your guests.
You could, for example, position your events page as something of a directory for the various keynotes, presentations, and digital ‘areas’ of your conference. You could also use it as a discussion platform in and of itself, posting regular updates and reaching out directly to attendees. The only word of advice I can give here is to be careful about giving Facebook too central a role – ultimately, you still need to make this about your conference, and forcing people to constantly jump back to the social network can have a huge negative impact on attendee satisfaction.
Remember – Your Audience Comes First
“Before you think about the logistics of integrating social networks,” advises INXPO Director of Product Marketing Dennis Shiao, “start with your target audience. Map out your event’s user experience to ensure that social media blends well into the overall experience.”
According to Shiao, you need to make sure you take the following into account:
- Integration does not mean the integrated platform should be the most important element. Don’t force attendees to leave your event environment simply to like or share something.
- Make the social media elements easy to find, without making them too overpowering. They need to be intuitively placed and well-labeled within whatever virtual environment you create.
- Ensure the social elements don’t replace core elements of the virtual platform. If your application already has chat, blogs, or message boards, don’t try to force Facebook Chat or Wall Posts in overtop of them. The features of Facebook need to complement the features of your platform – not the other way around.
Don’t Forget – Plenty of Vendors And Sponsors Can Go Online, Too
If there’s one thing a lot of digital conferences and online events lack, it’s a vendor presence. That’s a shame, because the majority of businesses these days have at least some form of digital storefront. Get in touch with a few vendors, and you might be surprised at how many of them will be perfectly willing to work with you in a digital context.
There’s one caveat here, though. You need to integrate their storefronts in such a way that guests can use them seamlessly. Essentially, your goal is to create a virtual vendor booth; one which users can access without dropping from your event platform.
Again, Facebook can be a huge help in that regard. Not only can it get you in touch with vendors, it’s long been known that Facebook’s been testing a buy button that allows its users to make purchases directly through the platform. If you can integrate it into your event, users will be able to make purchases directly from your vendors with ease.
Oh, and while we’re on the topic, don’t be afraid to reach out to a few sponsors, too. Virtual events present a fantastic opportunity for brand exposure – especially if you’re running them using Facebook.
Consider Going Totally Virtual
A few years back, I attended a huge conference, complete with a show floor, presentation rooms, and vendor booths. Here’s the kicker – I did this without ever leaving the comfort of my own home. Although not everyone’s going to be able to afford or access virtual reality gear, creating a virtual show floor for people to explore can go a long way towards enriching your online event, especially if you can find some way to seamlessly integrate media into it.
Now, at this point you’re probably wondering where Facebook comes into play here. There are a few ways:
- Social sharing: Give people the ability to record live video and take pictures of their surroundings then upload them to their Facebook page. You’d be surprised how many people are keen on this sort of thing.
- Networking: Equip your guests with the ability to seamlessly share their Facebook information with one another. Did two people meet and hit it off via their avatars? With the ability to exchange contact information, they’ll be able to effortlessly keep in touch.
- Engagement: If you can work in some way that people can discretely and intuitively ‘like’ certain aspects of your event – for example, a vendor booth they particularly enjoy – that’ll pay off for you, your vendors, and your guest speakers alike.
Make Sure Your Event Platform Supports Social
The most important factor in the success of a virtual event is the platform you use. If you’re just running a webinar, for example, you’re probably good with using Google + Hangouts or Webex. The only caveat here is that whatever platform you choose needs to have Facebook integration – after all, you’re using the social network as a hub, right?
“Related to the objective of keeping users within the virtual platform, the secret to integration is the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) provided by social networks,” writes Shiao. “API’s are pieces of code that you can call on from within your virtual event platform. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (among other services) all have API’s that provide services such as authentication, social graph queries and message posting.”
Keep Yourself Constantly Connected
Since you’re running your event almost entirely online, it’s even more important that you’re offering regular updates to your attendees. You need to remain connected to Facebook as much as possible, sharing with them a constant stream of information related to your event. The goal here is to keep people interested and engaged – you aren’t going to be able to do that if your event page is completely dark.
Facebook is the largest social network in the world, and has become more or less ubiquitous in our day to day lives. It remains the best way of reaching out to and connecting with your users, and one of the most powerful marketing tools in any event organizer’s arsenal. This is exactly what makes it so well-suited for virtual events.
“By their very nature, events are social,” says Shiao. “Integrating social networks makes them even more social. Encouraging attendees to tap into familiar platforms only adds to your event’s engagement; by tapping into their social graphs, you can increase awareness of your event, of valuable content, and of each other.”
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