A Real Look at Virtual Events

It's been a little over a year since we last looked at the state of virtual events. Since that post, streaming has become more mainstream with the launch of Facebook Live. The rise in mobile device usage and access to high bandwidth connections has fueled the viability of video in recent months. Its popularity -- and power -- is growing at an amazing rate thanks in part to Google and Facebook's efforts to promote video through prioritizing it in their algorithms.

While every virtual event does not require video (many audio and slide-driven webinars are very valuable and popular), it is a dynamic way to hold the attention of virtual attendees. It also serves to broaden the reach of live events to an online audience.

In 2016, the Super Bowl, the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and the debates were live streamed creating a second venue for people to watch and interact online. While the Federal events we list on GovEvents are nowhere near the scope of those events, there is a real need and opportunity for virtual events in the federal market.

According to the 2016 Federal Media & Marketing Study from Market Connections, participation in webinars has remained fairly steady over the past three years. In the study, 41% of respondents reported attending one to three webinars in the last 12 months. 27% of respondents also ranked webinars as one of their most trusted sources of content when hosted by a professional organization.

There is clearly an audience for virtual events and organizations just need to determine the right way to mix them into their marketing plans.

Virtual events really take two forms:

  1. Broadcast of live events
  2. Online-only events

Streaming or recording live events gives an organization a chance to reach more people. It also creates an online archive of the content for use long after the last attendee has headed home. These virtual extensions of events can be done simply -- with a single camera set up in the keynote session -- or they can become an event within an event like at the 2016 PCMA Convening Leaders conference.

The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) integrated their online content into the actual event by building a "studio" so that live attendees could see the production behind putting on the virtual event and witness the online conversation happening. This created a truly hybrid event where online and in-person attendees could interact in real-time.

While virtual events can broaden an audience they can also be used to reach a very niche audience. For topics that are strategic, but only need a small audience, an in-person event may be cost prohibitive or logistically challenging. Moving that conversation online allows for a smaller, focused presentation and the introduction of social tools and video enable collaboration.

On GovEvents we have hundreds of upcoming webcasts available on our site, plus access to an additional 450+ on-demand webinars. Take a look to get a sense of how organizations are using the virtual platform to deliver training and facilitate collaboration.

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