Have you attended or hosted a virtual event for your business in the last year? Chances are, you have – in 2020 alone, virtual events were up 1,000% due to the pandemic, which made in-person gatherings impossible.

The pandemic forced companies to think creatively, heavily relying on digital tools and video to transform their business. We saw small business owners turning to platforms like Zoom and Facebook Live to host online gatherings, network and spread the word about their products and services. While many of these events were successful, hosts still struggled to cultivate high levels of engagement that are seen from an in-person event. According to EventMB research, 31% of event planners said engagement was their biggest challenge in pivoting to virtual events and 50% said their biggest frustration when sourcing virtual event technology is its inability to match live engagement.

Due to the increasing availability of hybrid elements, such as the ability to tune into an in-person event via livestream, virtual events will still maintain a significant presence even as we return to in-person events. Thus, it’s critical for small business leaders to have a foundational strategy in place that leverages virtual event technology and promotional tactics to best reach audience members where they are. This can include many forms of communication, including video.

Our event is on the calendar. Now what?

Those who have experience planning events know how stressful and overwhelming the process can be. While video isn’t a cure-all, it’s certainly helped my team in a variety of ways. Below are a few ways your organization can tap into the power of video to ease and simplify the planning process.

  • Simplify communication: Instead of inundating potential attendees with multiple long emails or outdated one-pagers ahead of an upcoming webinar, panel or event, develop a short video or video series to promote key insights or takeaways attendees will learn.
  • Show vs. tell – use graphics to represent abstract ideas and topics: Ahead of an event, you don’t need to get into the nitty gritty of the topic at hand. Video technology allows you to use graphics, including icons and logos, to show participants what they can expect – plus, it allows you to encourage your audience to attend without giving away too much content.
  • Take a direct marketing approach: Personalized videos allow business owners to market directly to their customers, how, when and where they want to be reached. Consider creating multiple videos for different markets, verticals and audience segments to promote the same event with a more tailored, personal approach. This can help increase your reach and engagement levels.
  • Provide a sneak peek: Video is a great way to give the audience an idea of what a virtual event will entail, providing insights and details about the host and potential guest speakers and what attendees will learn. Sharing these types of videos about two weeks before the event can create more buzz and attract and engage more attendees who might not have joined the event before watching the video.

Why small businesses are seeing success with video

Earlier this year, my team surveyed 1,000 full-time employees to learn more about the state of work during the pandemic. From our surveyed respondents, we found that 52% of employees prefer to watch or listen to a company announcement or communication instead of reading an email or blog post. A visual format is even more preferred when it comes to CEO communications, with 57% of employees saying that video messages from the company’s CEO are more engaging than text-based messages.

When I think about the nature of work and communication, I’m not surprised that video is strongly preferred by employees. It’s more engaging and adaptive, enabling employees to watch at their own pace and on their own time. We’ve specifically seen video grow in popularity over the past year as many employees juggled working from home and faced challenges like a non-ideal work environment and technology struggles.

For small businesses, video can be a secret weapon with endless creative possibilities. In the context of virtual and hybrid events, it’s a powerful promotional tool and can further engage your audience base. If you haven’t applied video applications and technologies in your business, try it for your next event to see its potential for yourself and your event’s attendees.

Stacy Adams is dedicated to helping companies build better professional trainings as part of her role at Vyond, a video animation software company that supports businesses in easily creating corporate videos. She is passionate about the power of video storytelling and believes in its unique ability to bolster corporate learning and address workplace issues.

Virtual event stock image by fizkes/Shutterstock