The concept of a virtual event is no longer new. But given the latest technological developments, organizing a virtual event in 2020 is light years away from what it meant, say, in 2010 or 2012. If you’re reading this post, you’re probably considering organizing such an event, and want to know how to best do it in Toronto. Then read on and discover our tips for organizing a successful virtual event in the Toronto Area.
What Events work best as Virtual Events in Toronto
In theory, any type of event can happen in a virtual format. Simply with an internet connection and a computer or mobile device anyone can connect to a URL and participate in the event metre it is broadcast live. In addition, with the help of a virtual reality device, the experience will be even more immersive. Some virtual events (think webinars as a virtual/online version of seminars) don’t even have to be live, and taking part in them can simply mean having the ability to play a pre-recorded video made available via a URL that can be accessed after paying for your ticket.
However, some types of events are more suitable than others for being organized as virtual events. Conferences, seminars, workshops, training courses, presentations, round tables are the first ones that come to mind. On the other hand, to other types of events such as concerts, which normally work best in a “live” form, a virtual component can be added. In this scenario, by accessing a link made available after the purchase of the ticket, remote participants can experience the concert from unique points of view, as if they were present in front of the stage.
For reasons of speech consistency, however, in the next paragraphs we will talk about the organization of an event that is entirely virtual.
Organizing a virtual event in Toronto – What’s the best timing?
Since guests don’t have to move physically to be present at your event, there’s more flexibility regarding the date(s) and time (times). However, once you’ve set the target, and target audience for the event, do the necessary research on your audience’s habits. For example, a professional, scientific, business or educational (even virtual) event would have less chance of making sufficient receipts, if it takes place when everyone is on vacation.
As far as timetables are concerned, the same rules apply as for events in which guests attend in person. Any event that has to do with professional development or deals can take place during the day, midweek days. This event that has to do with entertainment or hobbies has a better chance of success if it is scheduled for the late afternoon or weekend when potential participants do not have to be at work. If your event aspires to an international audience, consider the various time zones in the countries or regions where your target is located and make sure that the times you have chosen make the event accessible from these places as well.
When should you start organizing virtual events in Toronto?
The logistics of the virtual event are simplified compared to that of the same event in an “in-person” version. So we might be tempted to think that it takes less to organize it. In the case of a virtual event, the most time-sensitive aspect becomes the fact of booking and hiring speakers. Another time-consuming aspect is the promotion of the event. However, if you aspire to have much-requested personalities in their field as speakers, start contacting them at least a year earlier. For the rest, 6 months should be enough time to promote the virtual event from the moment the presenters are confirmed.
The best Locations in Toronto for virtual events?
Choosing a location for an all-virtual event may seem like you don’t need that much effort. This is because you do not compare yourself with all the space that an event with the in-person participation of the guests implies. However, although you may be tempted to organize a virtual conference in your office, don’t. You still need a suitable location. A space chock-full of things, in an office, won’t help you create a professional atmosphere for your event, and everything will seem improvised. A conference room is a better idea, and if your event involves an enlarged panel of speakers, consider a location that can even include a stage. Also take into account the fact that the camera will zoom in and out, so a well thought out, the harmonious background is pretty much a must.
Choose the platform for your virtual event
There are various platforms that you can use to host and broadcast your virtual event. The choice of platform will depend on the complexity of the event, the level of interaction that must be established with the participants, and the budget of the event.
Let’s see some solutions later, from the simplest to the most complex.
1# Facebook Live
Facebook Live seems to us the easiest solution if what you are looking for is live broadcasting online. Virtually installation costs are non-existent, and the ability to post comments while streaming is all you need to allow attendees to interact with speakers in real-time. If your event is intended for free participation, you can stream it live from a public Facebook profile or page.
What if you want to sell tickets and make sure that only the people who paid for the event attend us? The solution is simple. Create a closed Facebook group and broadcast the event live within the group. You can invite participants to join the group once tickets are purchased. To manage payments, you can create an event website on an online event management platform. For example, if you create the event website on Zoom, you have the option to set it as a virtual event and provide the link to the closed group, instead of a physical location. Keep in mind though that despite all the efforts you could put into making sure that only those who paid will attend the event, there will always be someone who will be able to spin around the system and see it for free.
For this reason, broadcasting your virtual event via Facebook Live is a good solution for free events, and is to be used with caution for paid events.
Enjoying great success in 2015 as the first app that allowed live streaming, Periscope’s popularity had already declined in 2018. The rise of live streaming on more established platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, Periscope’s failure to communicate with its users, content issues, and the lack of improvements in the service, are the main reasons for its decline. However, Periscope still exists, and as far as live streaming is concerned, it does its job. As in the case of Facebook Live, interactivity is ensured by the ability to post comments in real-time while streaming.
If your event was designed as a free event, you can set up live streaming as an audience and take advantage of the ability to share it on Twitter, to reach a wider audience. On the other hand, if you want to sell tickets to your virtual event on Periscope, you need to set the stream as private. In this case, in order to participate and to be able to interact during the event, users must not only have the link to the Periscope profile of the organizing body, but the organizer and the participants must follow each other on the platform.
As with Facebook Live, there may be people on Periscope who will find a way to attend the event for free even if the event is for a fee. So be aware of this and look for another platform if you want to be absolutely sure that everyone will pay.
YouTube is definitely our favourite if you have a budget. The platform offers everything you might need for a decent virtual event. In addition to simple live streaming, YouTube has developed features designed specifically for real live events. To mention a few:
- You can make the event public or private
- Advertisements can be placed at the beginning or during the event. One more way to monetize!
- The duration of the event is unlimited.
- statistics and streaming quality can be monitored by the live dashboard or live control room.
- You can create events transmitted by multiple cameras at the same time and also a 360-degree live stream.
- Live chat can be used to interact with your audience, and you can assign moderators to manage conversations.
Also, what we like the most is that you can put the YouTube video live stream on your event site on Zoom! This way your participants don’t have to click on so many links and platforms to attend the event, and you’ll have everything in the same place.
As with Facebook Live and Periscope, setting the live stream on YouTube as private is not an absolute guarantee that people who haven’t paid for the ticket won’t have access to the event. So to conclude, YouTube is gorgeous for a free virtual event broadcast live, but if the entire collection of the event depends solely on ticket sales, you’ll have to look for the ideal platform elsewhere.
On24 was created specifically for webinars. This is an integrated platform, which does much more than live streaming:
- analyze your audience’s behavior
- includes an intuitive control panel that makes it easy to produce professional webinars
- provides data integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms and marketing automation platforms
- makes various formats available: live, simu-live, and on-demand
- includes video sharing, screen sharing, and multi-presenter mode
- rate options for organizers are customizable based on the features you need
5# Livestream & Vimeo
Livestream was an independent live broadcasting platform for events and was acquired, at the end of 2017, by Vimeo, YouTube’s most important competitor when it comes to sharing video content. Offering both a cloud platform for live video and powerful video production capabilities, Livestream is a complex tool. Interesting though is the fact that, even if it now belongs to Vimeo, the videos broadcast by Livestream can also be broadcast simultaneously on Facebook Live and YouTube. This is perfect if you want to reach the largest possible audience. Livestream can be cheap to use but can also be expensive. The base plan costs $70 per month, while the Enterprise plan has custom rates based on the features you want to use, and also includes video production features.
The good news is that Livestream & Vimeo offer a paywall, which makes this combination one of the ideal platforms for live paid virtual events. The payment is made directly on the platform, only after payment, the content becomes available to for that particular user.
An interesting feature: When the event ends, the organizer can use Vimeo to monetize the video in the form of a rental, sale, or subscription. This way you can get the most out of the content that was shared during the event and create a revenue stream that lasts well beyond the event close.
6# 6Connex property
6Connex is a web platform dedicated entirely to virtual events. It allows users to create custom virtual environments to better interact with their audience and also generate sales. On this platform, events happen within a highly interactive online environment, which includes rich content, multiple locations, live chat rooms, and webcast sessions. It also offers real-time reports and statistics, and open APIs are also available for integration with marketing tools. Virtual environments on 6Connex can be populated by a wide range of content, such as documents, presentations, videos inserted from other platforms, videos uploaded directly, and links to other web pages.
In addition to the usual conference or seminar, on 6Connex you can organize even more complex events, such as virtual trade fairs or even job fairs.
Of course, we can’t talk about virtual events without mentioning virtual reality! In 2020, this is a technology that won’t go anywhere. However, virtual reality platforms for events are still in an embryonic state, with few options available to the public at the moment. The most notable we can mention for now are:
- the Oculus Venues app, which has been developed to host live events such as sporting events, comedy shows or concerts, virtual reality movies.
- Facebook Spaces, a virtual space where users can interact with a digital avatar.
How to finance a virtual event
There are two main ways to fund a virtual event, and you can use one or both in various combinations. The most obvious is to issue a paid entrance ticket that will give the public access to the event. In this case the event will be set as private, so the audience will be limited to those people who have purchased tickets. There’s good news though. thanks to the reduced operational and logistical costs, you can set a lower price for the access ticket to a virtual event, compared to what you would ask for access to the same event if it were with “in-person” participation. The event will then be more accessible, more people will be able to afford to participate, and you may also have a wider profit margin.
Sponsorship is the other way to fund (in whole or in part) your virtual event. If the space available in the location allows, you can offer sponsors the ability to install branding elements that will appear in the background of video materials. Plus, you can embed sponsor ads between live sessions. And, in the same way as inserting a product into a TV show, you can create a part of the live content (presentations, discussions) around a certain product or brand that sponsors the event.
In addition, the name of the event itself may contain the brand name of the main sponsor. This means that the name of the sponsor’s brand will have visibility every time the event itself is communicated on all advertising channels. Another thing you will do is mention the sponsors on the event website. For example, if you create the event site on Zoom, you can customize the page to include sponsors. Last but not least, you can mention sponsors in the invitation email you send to potential participants and in all email communications, you send to participants.
As with in-person events, the fact that an event with a wider audience has a better chance of getting more substantial sponsorships is also valid for virtual events. This makes sponsorship the ideal solution to fully fund a free virtual event. In this case, your goal will be to maximize your audience as much as possible. Consider hosting the event on one or, even better, all major platforms at once (Facebook Live, YouTube, Periscope, and you can also stream snippets on Instagram Live where the maximum length of a live video is 1 hour).
The logistics of a virtual event
We’ve just seen that finding a suitable location is easier for a virtual event than for an event with in-person participation. But what is the situation when it comes to logistics? Let’s see below what are the most important aspects to keep in mind:
- Audio Visual Services Equipment and lighting. In the case of a virtual event, the guest experience depends more on the quality of the image and audio. Since the participants are not present in person, the way the event is “experienced” is actually the way you see and feel what happens at the location. Then, be sure to engage high-quality equipment regarding video, audio, and lighting. The best thing to do is to work with an event production agency that has experience with live streaming. If your event includes speakers connecting from various locations, make sure each location enjoys good quality audio/video equipment.
For more Information about Audio Visual Services in Toronto click on AV Services.
- Wi-fi connection. This is not a problem for pre-recorded events, but it does become so when events are broadcast live. Check that the location has a fast and good quality connection, or install one. There’s no point in having the highest quality videos if all that comes to your event attendees is a jerky broadcast or that keeps interrupting or foggy or pixelated images.
- Supporting materials. Most likely, presenters will have supporting materials such as presentations, images, screen recordings, or videos to include in their speeches. Make sure you have collected them well in advance and put them in the program.
Marketing for virtual events
Most event marketing rules apply to virtual events as well as in-person events. So again you will have to set the objectives of the event and create product, price, distribution and promotion strategies. How to do this depends more on the type of event (conference, seminar, workshop, course, etc.) and the type of audience (professionals, businessmen, students, hobbyists, etc.). To make sure you haven’t missed any details in your marketing plan, you can use our event marketing checklist, which you can download for free and explain here.
How to promote a virtual event
People who are more likely to attend a virtual event are also more likely to spend more time online. So web marketing should be the one you’ll need to focus your efforts on. Social networks, websites and niche blogs will be the focus of your promotional strategy. Across social media, use LinkedIn and Facebook for professional, business, and educational events, and focus on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for events that are more focused on entertainment or creative fields.
Collaborate with your presenters to promote the virtual event. If they are influential in their industries, they will likely have their own followers platform, so it is crucial that they communicate participation in the event to their followers. This will already provide a solid foundation of potential attendees who will be interested in the event.
As for the most effective genre of ads to promote your virtual event, video ads that include speakers in action are the best choice. Work with them to produce ads that would give potential attendees a taste of the type of content that will be offered at the event. This includes mini-courses, presentations, tutorials, FAQs and demonstrations. These ads can also be snippets of your speakers’ interventions in an earlier edition of the event (if there was one). Also, during the event, make sure all sessions are recorded, so you can use video content to promote the next edition.
Organizing a virtual event can feel like a leap into the dark. Some technological challenges may arise. But it is precisely the use of technology that makes the virtual event a flexible, economical option, and, if done right, it can give you access to an audience that would otherwise not be reachable for the same event in the version with in-person participation. We hope that our guidelines have inspired you to approach your next virtual event project in a more relaxed way and that you will get the best out of this experience!
For more information about Virtual Events in Toronto click on Toronto Events.
Why would you choose Future’s Past Events?
What is the best choice for Audio Visual Services for Toronto Events? During these changing times, the importance of remote communication has never been higher. At Future’s Past Events we have adapted to this change, and by using state-of-the-art technology we offer solutions to your business needs.