How can you make your virtual events cut through to a business audience in a world of endless free Zoom webinars?
At a recent Round Table discussion, Andrew Ellis, Founder of Like Minds, shared what he has learned from running 70 virtual events in the last year. And leaders of other independent media businesses discussed their own experiences. Here’s the Like Minds story and top takeaways, plus the key discussion points.
Smart Tips on virtual events from Like Minds
Like Minds curate inspiring thinkers to help companies grow and scale. It has been called “TED for Business”
They had run a one two-day event internationally for 12 years, plus weekly business breakfasts in London.
When Covid hit, they started the Lockdown Festival in April 2020 with six speakers a day for an hour over a week – all run on Hopin from a Macbook Air. 600 people attended from all over the world. Engagement was great.
Then they launched BBTV every Wednesday at 8am to replace their established in-person business breakfasts.
Like Minds have now run 70 events on Hopin.
Next up is the Great British Business Festival, 31 March.
- Planning – start three months out, build engagement, people are invited to so many free webinars, and they have zoom fatigue.
- Marketing – Using LinkedIn events and Eventbrite for pre-registration has been effective, running free events to build a database. People do search for relevant events on Eventbrite. Have 700 pre-reg on LI page, also have 15k database – expect several thousand to attend.
- Testing – always check a speaker’s tech, lighting, camera, mic, to create a professional event
- Engagement – people get fatigued with endless speakers. Have tried a virtual pub at end of day, up to 20 people can appear at once on Hopin. A platform called https://www.wonder.me/ has separate tables of 15 or so and attendees can drag their icon to a new table to meet new people. Add a little fun, such as close up magic or drag queen bingo: https://www.dragqueen.bingo/
Paid vs free tickets
LM started out charging £25 a ticket but events are now free. BBTV is a sponsorship model. All talks are recorded so sponsors get extra views.
Other smaller events, more B2B conference content led have started to charge say £100 and are getting 150-200 people so it’s more profitable. Some virtual B2B events have had better take up of group/company tickets which allow say 10 people to attend for £500, than selling individual tickets. An alternative model is to make live attendance free but charge £50 for access to recordings.
Charging is harder for consumer events – and experience of one organiser is that free registration is running at several hundred a day, which delivers for sponsors.
Linked In events
Linked in are pushing organisers to use their platform, which is currently free, and the access to networks of connections is of course appealing. But there is a risk in letting them control your event, as organisers may not be able to access attendee information. An alternative is to share the link to a Hopin event (or other platform) and attendees register there. If organisers have a Sales Navigator account then they can access data on attendees.
Sponsor pricing/ proposition
GBBF has 100-150 workshops and is charging the workshop leaders £100-200 to run them as they provide good lead generation. Audience can watch live free or pay for a recording. LM included Expo booths as they are a feature on Hopin – and got some positive feedback from exhibitors.
Other expo organisers have discovered that the exhibitors who make an effort and provide interesting content do well, others not so much – rather like in person events. Best approach is to encourage sponsors to create content that is part of the main event.
Like Minds are going to start a membership option – where paid members can access BBTV for free, plus additional member benefits such as discounts on products. Social Media Week set up a similar membership proposition. https://smw.plus/ where they gathered up recordings of virtual event sessions in a Netflix style interface priced at $39 a month.
Speciall Media Group
This Round Table was organised for members of the Speciall Media Group, an invite-only online community for leaders of independent B2B and B2C media and publishing businesses. We have over 100 members, and as well as an online forum hosted by Guild, we run occasional surveys and online round tables where members share their experiences. Find out more and request to join here.
About the author
Carolyn Morgan has bought, sold, launched and grown specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events. A founder of the Specialist Media Show (sold in 2014) she now advises media businesses large and small on their digital strategy through her consultancy Speciall Media.
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