Tips For Planning Virtual Community Events

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And we're back with our 5th Community Roundtable. Our roundtable discussion was led by 8 volunteer leaders from CommunityHood. So get ready to know some pro tips for planning virtual events from the community builders of Apna, BRANDfluenzers, Niche Marketers Community, and many more!

If you're in search of a platform for running a community, then check out LikeMinds now! Our platform offers great inbuilt features that make it super easy to manage members and moderate the community.  

About The Speakers

  • Priya Bhatt - Community and Brand Specialist at Springworks.
  • Nirav Chahwala - Creative Entrepreneur and Founder of BRANDFLUENZERS Community.
  • Govardhan Doddi - Founder of Niche Marketers Community and HashtagMag.
  • Prateeksha Kedia - Founder of 3 communities empowering more than 1.5 lakh members in their journey of parenting.
  • Vineet Nandan Gupta - Facebook Certified CM with Expertise in Community strategy and Growth consulting.
  • Manohar Kabeer - Community Manager at Mentza and Founder of 90ML Talks.

Community Report Insights

Before moving towards what goes behind planning a roundtable or any event at CommunityHood, I want to share a few things from the community industry report that we had created last year - The State Of Indian Community Management. Following are some of the stats from it:

  • 78% of Indian community builders are hosting at least one event every month. So, hosting virtual events is becoming common and this is the data from last year. I'm sure that this has gone up from there.
  • 76% of community builders state that their event participants are experiencing webinar fatigue. Because these events are increasing, you have to innovate a few things and make them something that people find value for.
  • Every event is a request for time. That is how we should generally look at it while conducting any event and the amount of time that everyone is spending in the event, they should take away something from the event.
  • One of the biggest challenges that people face in conducting these virtual events is retaining participants throughout the event, marked as a challenge 23 times. The report was created with the participation of 180 community builders.
  • The top three metrics for success that people had indicated in events were the participant interaction, the turnout and the returning participants in an event. This shows the belongingness, which is one of the biggest reasons why people want to host events.
  • The top three attractions for any event came out to be the event topic (28%), the event content (25%) and the speakers (22%). So, the event topic becomes the most important. At least that is what the other community builders have been talking about.

Stages Of Planning An Event

The first stage is research and goal setting - why you want to conduct an event and even before that, what is it that you want to achieve from an event from a broad company's strategic perspective. And then, for each event, there could be different objectives.

For example, whether the objective is to increase the new member acquisition rate, or to increase the engagement in the community. We at CommunityHood have different formats of events using this philosophy and now we don't need to work on these things every time we do an event.

For us, let's say if it's a roundtable event, then the main goal is to have deeper community engagement, more than member acquisition as the core business objective. So, we don't need to think of it every time now because the series of events are defined. This is where we generally start our journey for a defined event format now.

After that, we have to curate an event, do its branding, attract attendees, and then do a lot of coordination and planning. Lastly, we evaluate everything and try to look at it from different perspectives.

Also, Check-Out:

Research And Goal Setting

  • Understand your audience
  • Set SMART Goals
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

Event Objectives

  • Objective Examples
  • Community engagement
  • Member acquisition
  • Value delivery (eg. course lessons)
  • Upselling some course material
  • Formats
  • Open discussion
  • Interview (eg. Townhall/Panel discussion)
  • Informal get-together/Networking
  • Training session/Workshop

Curating The Event

  • Define the event format & choose the platform (While defining the format, note the following points)
  • Number of speakers
  • Number of attendees
  • Attendees can speak, or participate in between or not
  • Any slides or videos needs to be presented
  • Need of interaction between the participants
  • Post-event follow-ups, doubts or materials to be circulated  

Event Branding

  • Give a catchy name to your event
  • If possible, create a website or landing page
  • Market your event
  • Run paid campaigns, if needed
  • Social media promotions
  • Email campaigns

Coordination And Planning

  • Documentation of checklists with deadlines
  • Define the responsibilities of the organising team
  • Choose the host and guest speakers
  • Finalise the time and date

Evaluating The Plan

  • Duration of the session
  • Trial/dry run before the event
  • Exploring the capabilities of the tool
  • Event Reminders/Calendar invites
  • If possible, please have someone to take the questions of the participants

Major Event Goof Ups

Some of the goof ups that happen in the events and their solutions are as follows:

  • The platform, device and internet glitches - Be sure that the platform, the device and the internet connection that you are using are well tested.
  • Low attendee turnout - A lot of times it happens and a way to make it stop is to figure out what percentage of people who RSVP as yes turn up eventually. We have seen that out of the number of people that RSVP as yes on our calendar invites, 70% of them actually turn up. This is how we have been fairly precise in predicting how many people are going to attend our event.
  • Low registrations - It is a big problem, especially if you don't have enough budget or enough social media clout. My recommendation is to not host events unless you have a guarantee of at least 20-30 people attending.
  • Last minute speaker cancellations - Always make sure to block their calendars in advance. Have multiple conversations with them about the event, keep them informed so that they also feel obligated and they do not make any other plans beforehand.
  • The audience is bored and is leaving - This was mentioned as one of the biggest challenges by the Indian community builders. Make sure that you don't talk about things that are not relevant or things that are not entertaining in your events. So, people join for learning or entertainment. Try and keep a healthy mix of both.
  • Time zone mismatch - Use tools which are timezone friendly by design. For example, Google Calendar is time zone sensitive. You don't need to customize anything, Google does it for you.

Also, Check-Out:

Last-Minute Tips

  • Internet connection and electricity backup of the presenters should be checked beforehand
  • Pre-start slides can be there for warming up the attendees
  • If people have their cameras on, they are more focused
  • Remind people to participate in chat and discussion
  • Pictorial visual representations are more effective than verbose slides

If you want to learn from the experience of leading community builders themselves, then join "CommunityHood" now.