What Event Organizers Need to Know About the Virtual Attendee Experience

December 8, 2020

A woman sitting in a cafe counter in front of a window looking out to the street lifts her glasses away from her eyes as she focuses on her computer. The reflection of the exterior is shown in the glass.

Let’s face it: There are some aspects of an in-person conference that you can’t get online. There’s the joy  of staying in a hotel, the meals on an expense account, cocktail hours, shaking hands and exchanging business cards… trying to replicate most of the above online is either impossible or deeply silly.

There are, however, many parts of the in-person experience that you can provide to your virtual attendees. What’s more, there are some advantages to virtual events that in-person events can’t touch. People can attend in their pajamas. You can recruit in-demand speakers without worrying about travel expenses or taking a week out of their schedules. Your attendees can chat and network during the event without interrupting the presentations.

It’s time to stop thinking of virtual events as a substitute for in-person events, and time to embrace the unique possibilities of what a virtual event can do for your brand. The attendee experience is what makes for a truly memorable conference in any medium, and your virtual event can offer a unique and valuable experience with the right planning and execution.

We created LinkedIn Events to help bring your communities together safely and in real-time. Here’s a four-step plan for making your LinkedIn Event special from the attendee perspective. (Download the infographic.)

Step 1: Capture Attention

As with any marketing message, it can be a challenge to get your event in front of the right audience at the right time. Picture this: Your potential attendee is browsing  social media, looking at people’s vacation photos, political memes, and dance videos. They see an ad for a business event sandwiched in between, but it doesn’t really register, because they’re not in the right mindset. Your CRM sends a follow-up email, but it gets lost in their inbox. 

LinkedIn Events makes it easier to attract the right professional attendees. Your event will appear in the Events tab on your organization’s LinkedIn Page, where it’s easy to share with your followers. It will also appear as a recommendation in relevant members’ “My Network” tabs and in recommendation emails.  You can increase your reach even further with Sponsored Content ads that drive registration directly on your LinkedIn Event.

By advertising your event where potential attendees are already looking for professional content, you’re more likely to make an impression, raise awareness, and generate registrations from your professional audience.

Step 2: Foster Anticipation and Excitement

Have you ever signed up for a virtual event and heard nothing from the hosts beyond a 24-hour reminder email? Many organizers miss the opportunity to get people excited and engaged, interacting with the hosts, speakers, and each other. This type of interaction helps ensure that people who registered will help publicize the event — and, of course, actually attend on the day of.

This critical groundwork is easier in a LinkedIn Event. Each event has its own feed that you can use to start engagement weeks before showtime. Post photos, speaker highlights, polls, and previews of the content with images and video. All of this content lends legitimacy to your event, spark excitement and discussion, and keeps your event top-of-mind. More than that, it creates a sense of place and community that is often lacking in virtual events. Make sure to recommend your most important posts to your attendees, a powerful feature you can leverage 2x every week. 

As the time of your event draws nearer, LinkedIn Events will send automatic reminders to attendees, including ones when your event is one week away, three days away, and 15 minutes away, to help maximize attendance. 

Step 3: Run a Flawless Event

How many virtual events have you attended that suffered from technical difficulties? Most organizations are new to running something with the complexity of a full-fledged virtual conference. If the video streams glitch out, or the chatting and posting capabilities aren’t fully developed, the attendee experience suffers. Attendees expect a seamless technology experience when it comes to virtual events.

With a LinkedIn Event, you can use LinkedIn Live to broadcast video, with up to four separate broadcasts streaming into the same Event per day. Your attendees are guaranteed to receive a push notification when the livestream starts, so they can join with one tap in the Linkedin app. 

Throughout the Event, attendees can chat with one another in the LinkedIn Live comments feed and interact with posts in the Event feed. Since it’s all powered by LinkedIn, attendees are already used to the interface, and don’t have to download or configure new software. Attending the event is as seamless as browsing their LinkedIn feed. 

Step 4: Continue the Conversation

What happens to your attendees after an event? Do they go back to their work week, maybe sharing a few insights on LinkedIn or their next Zoom call, your event quickly fading into memory? Running a memorable event that sparks a few social shares is great, of course, but you can continue to provide value for your attendees with the right follow up. 

The opportunity here is evident: In a recent survey conducted by PathFactory and Heinz Marketing, B2B marketers named improving the way they maximize engagement with their audience post-event as having the greatest potential to maximize virtual event ROI. So how should we go about it?

First, you can send a survey or run a poll on your LinkedIn Event feed to get attendee feedback for your next event. The feed also serves as a central hub for your LinkedIn Live recordings streamed to the event — attendees can rewatch everything in one location.

Finally, you can nurture attendees after the event. Using LinkedIn Campaign Manager, you  can create a custom audience of people who registered for your event, and then retarget them with next steps or an invitation to your next event.

A Virtual Success 

There are a few intangible elements that separate memorable virtual events from forgettable ones: A sense of place, a community, and an ongoing conversation. These elements all help engage your attendees before, during and after the event, creating an experience that stands out, even in our screen-saturated daily lives.

LinkedIn Events was designed to make virtual events simple and intuitive for marketers and attendees alike, using the same platform that you already rely on to reach and engage a business audience.

Ready to try it for yourself? Get started creating your first LinkedIn Event.

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