In the events world, the word “virtual” seems to be about as popular and powerful as “cloud” is in the IT space. In other words, it’s being thrown on just about everything that has some sort of online component.
Yet for many, that’s all it is. They’re applying the same old rules and thinking they used for a physical event – which primarily means an event with a beginning, middle and end – and just adding an online component.
If that sounds like your strategy, you’re really missing an opportunity to engage and captivate your attendees at a much deeper level than has previously been possible. Instead of putting up limited-time events, consider creating a persistent virtual environment (PVE). With a PVE, you’re actually building a community that provides 24 x 7 x 365 access to all the information and participants, with your company and its experts as the hub.
Think about what that means. Say you hold a typical, fixed-point-in-time event such as a webcast. You work hard to get 350 people to sign up. On event day, 200 actually attend, and there is a lively discussion throughout. When it’s over, you follow up with those who couldn’t make it and offer a link to a recording of the webcast. Some watch it, and see the interaction between presenters and participants, but can’t really take part. A week later, you’re on to promoting the next event, and this one goes into the archives, likely never to be seen again.
Contrast that with a PVE. First thing is it’s ongoing, and very communityesque. You get members to sign up along the way, so you already have a built-in audience for your content. If you’re doing a webcast, you can notify the community, who are already involved and engaged with you, giving you a better shot at gaining the kind of numbers you want.
But it’s after the webcast that the PVE really kicks in. Because the people who couldn’t make the live webcast aren’t just spectators. They’re still able to participate in the conversation because the PVE has discussion boards, chat rooms and other mechanisms that keep it going long after the original event. A second webcast on a related topic a few months later can tie directly in. And supporting materials from your subject matter experts can also be part of the overall experience – as well as spurring additional discussion.
This white paper explains in more detail why a PVE offers so much more value than the typical “virtual” event. It also outlines how to determine if a PVE is right for your organization, how to go about planning for one, and what actually happens in it based on the experiences of InterCall Event Services and a few of our customers. It even shows how you can gather information from the actions of community members to make continuous improvements in the PVE, allowing you to deliver even greater value.
“Virtual” can mean many things to many organizations. If you want it to mean “engagement” to your client, you’ll definitely want to look into a PVE.
About the author
Eric Vidal is the Director of Product Marketing for the Event Services Business Segment at InterCall, the world’s largest conferencing and collaboration services provider. He can be reached at [email protected].