How to Host a Successful Virtual Event: Emerge Fest

July 9, 2020

In case you missed it, we recently LIVE produced Emerge Fest: A Virtual Happy Hour in the Creative Bloc studio. Like many nonprofits, the Emerge Center couldn’t host their annual fundraising gala as usual because of health and safety concerns with the coronavirus. Not a team to be deterred, the folks at the Emerge Center approached us with an idea to produce an interactive virtual celebration that could generate the funds and awareness they needed to propel them into the next year.

Stephen Waguespack

Virtual events are not a walk in the park.

People are still adjusting to online everything. Video chats just aren’t the same. Especially here in south Louisiana, we really just miss being together, having a drink, some laughs, and a good time.

But, while we’re prioritizing our health and safety, virtual events are an untapped resource of potential for audience interaction, engagement, and growth. Emerge Fest was a resounding success. They generated increased social media engagement. They surpassed their fundraising goal during the virtual happy hour. And, most importantly, everyone had a great time!

So, how did they do it? We drilled down on the main components that made Emerge Fest a successful virtual event!

Interactive Promotional Strategy

Emerge Fest Dance Off

The Emerge team was on point with their promotional strategy. One month before Emerge Fest: Virtual Happy Hour, Emerge created a Facebook event page and shared a dance off challenge.

This created a sense of inclusion with its engagement factor: share your video with others so we can see you, comment, connect, and laugh as we would in real life. More strategically, the dance off challenge created an organic way for participants to share information about the event: here’s a cause I care about happening at this date and time, maybe you’ll care about it too! But mainly, a dance off with a popular hashtag creates hype. It gets the people going!

Emerge Fest Dance Off Challenge

Jazzfest Ticket Raffle

In addition to the Emerge Fest Dance Off, the Emerge team also created a prize that encouraged attendees to not only RSVP but also watch the event LIVE! It was an excellent strategy to engineer more promotional engagement and greater live attendance.

Anyone who RSVP’d as “going” to Emerge Fest: Virtual Happy Hour became eligible to win a weekend pass for two to Jazzfest 2021! During the live stream, the winner was announced! But, the winner had to be watching and comment live to claim the prize.

Emerge Fest RSVP graphic

Mindset: A Virtual Event is a Real Event

A virtual event is a real event. That mindset is crucial to success.

When Emerge decided to go virtual with their annual fundraising gala, they knew that they still needed to host a great event and knock it out of the park. Fundraising is always an uphill climb, but times are especially tough for those impacted by the coronavirus right now. The Emerge team knew they couldn’t afford not to take this seriously and risk hosting a mediocre event.

Consult the Experts

First, they brought in an event planner and owner of Red Cake Events Heather Day, who shared her expertise and insights on how to plan a great virtual event. As the mastermind behind the interactive promotional strategy, Day also encouraged a live production.

When you produce live, there is a sense of togetherness that comes from watching something at the same time. It’s higher energy. “Anything can happen, right?” Day said.

Then, they asked our team here at Launch Media to produce the event in our studio.

Choose High-Caliber Production

Why go with a professional video company when you can shoot a video on your iPhone? Because caliber matters. We have the resources to elevate your content and build a unique digital experience for your audience. It’s about bridging great content, strategic planning, and production quality.

behind the scenes emerge fest

There’s so much available to watch, so your content has to be worthwhile. You’re competing even more for audience engagement and attention, and you can’t ask people to watch content that isn’t quality.

It’s about having a team who knows how to make everything run smoothly and look amazing.You can download our FREE virtual event guide here.

Make it Human

At the end of the day, there are a lot of buzzwords like engagement and interactivity and audience participation to tell you what you should already know. Are you acting like a human appealing to other humans?

Are you sharing stories that are real and authentic and compelling? Are you helping people have a good time in what’s otherwise a very weird time? #Rona

Emerge did this in a couple of ways.

emerge fest cocktail recipe

  1. The Cocktail: They created a signature cocktail recipe for their event and shared in on social media. By sharing the recipe ahead of time, participants could make the same drink at home and create a sense of togetherness when the cocktail was prepared during the event.
  2. The Shoutouts: Throughout the livestream, the event hosts gave shoutouts when viewers donated to recognize their generosity and support of The Emerge Center. 
  3. The Interviews: Finally, they truly put their heart into the event. Their in studio guests and interviewees included those who had been directly impacted by the Emerge Center’s mission. Stephen Waguespack’s son Christopher joined the set to talk about his experience with Emerge and those who’ve helped him on his learning journey. 

Here’s the Big Takeaway…

A virtual event isn’t the same as a real life event, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be wonderful. Going virtual doesn’t mean going cold. A virtual event is still an amazing opportunity to educate, empower, and inspire an audience who wants to tune in from their couch to make a difference.

Thinking about hosting a virtual event in the coming months? Contact us and let our team take your event to the next level.

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