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How To Raise Attendance For Online Events | 5 Pro Tips

Holding an online event is easier than organizing an in-person event. All you need is an internet connection, a video conferencing software such as Zoom, Google Meet, JItsi etc. and you're ready to go! People can connect to your event from around the world at the click of a button and there is no need to find a venue, work out logistics or check the weather.

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Nonetheless, this doesn't mean getting people to attend your event is any easier. On the contrary, the flexibility of online events means there is a lower level of commitment by potential attendees. People are more prone to wait until the last minute to RSVP, if at all, and no-shows are prevalent.

Still, a lot of the principles for successful in-person events still apply to online events.

A person deciding the date and time for an online event

1. Pick the right time.

Getting people to attend your event starts with picking the right time and date. Consider your attendees; Where do they live? What timezone? When are they off work? The answers to these questions will help you pinpoint the ideal time for your online event. Events that involve participants from different time zones can get complicated and you may need to prioritize a certain location over another. The best time to hold an event tends to be after work hours or on the weekends.

2. Tell people, and tell them again.

After you have set a time for your event, the next step is to make sure people know about it. It's best to announce your event as early as possible that way you can cater to people who prefer planning ahead and enjoy more free advertising via word of mouth. If you want to go a step further you can even time your announcement on social media to 11 AM which studies show is the optimal time when most people are online. If it is a reoccurring event, make sure to announce it to your existing audience as well as trying to promote it to new audiences. Next, remind people. Unlike a physical event which requires planning and preperation by the participants such as making travel plans, buying a new outfit etc. an online event requires near-zero effort by attendees which means they are more likely to forget about it. Make sure to reannounce your events approximately three days before as well as on the day of the event.

Friends telling each other about an upcoming online event

3. Be consistent.

One way to counter the forgetfulness of the digital era is by being consistent. Try and hold your event on a weekly basis at the same time and day of the week. After a few weeks, people will mentally and physically block out that time slot in their schedules even if you haven't announced your event yet.

4. Give proof of life.

A physical event can easily create a vivid image of what it will look and feel like in the minds eye. People imagine themselves at the venue dancing, eating, drinking, chatting etc. An online event is much harder to bring to life. People want to get an idea of what the event will look like before they hop into a meeting with a bunch of strangers. The way to combat this doubt is "Proof of life". Try and provide a detailed description of what happens during the online event as well as pictures (take a screenshot) or even short snippets of video (Screencastify) from a previous online event. Attach this media to your next online event announcement and watch attendance grow!

5. Stay in touch.

Follow up after the online event. Contact the people who attended and thank them for attending your online event, get their feedback and invite them back to future events. Offer to connect to them via social media or have them join a group you organize such as on Facebook or Whatsapp. The first step to growing attendance is making sure you retain the people who have already attended your online event in the past. It is best to make contact within 24 hours after the online event and not wait weeks or months to get in touch.

Bonus - 6. Focus on quality and content.

Last but not least. Improve the online event experience itself. As long as you have a few attendees to start out with, the more time and resources you put into creating a fun, informative, and valuable experience for your attendees, the more they will be encouraged to return and to tell others about your event.

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