How Event Creators Can Adapt to Coronavirus Event Cancellations

- by Alyson Shane

Coronavirus event cancellation is sweeping across the globe. Events are being cancelled or postponed across multiple industries - even the coronavirus conference was cancelled due to the coronavirus!

For event organizers, attendees, and sponsors, cancelled events represent a big loss in brand awareness and sales. Events are an opportunity for businesses to come together, share ideas, and make the connections they need to keep growing.

For now, the Coronavirus is standing in the way of all of that. Social distancing is needed to “flatten the curve” in many countries, and in-person events are being cancelled due to (very real) public health concerns.

These days, companies need to adapt to find new ways to keep engaging with event attendees without an in-person event to draw them to. 

Host online events

Reformat your in-person events as a series of webinars and live streams. Ask presenters and keynote speakers to join in and share their expertise with attendees through their webcams, and by doing screen shares.

Types of online events for social distancing include:

  • Webinars and online training
  • Town halls 
  • Livestreams 
  • Q&As 
  • Interviews
  • Whiteboard Wednesdays

Connect with attendees on social media 

Everyone is turning to social media as a way of coping with social distancing, so make sure you’re talking to your attendees and being an active member of your online community.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Create a Facebook or LinkedIn group

Groups are a great way to connect directly with attendees and create a sense of community around your event on social media. Not only can attendees talk and get to know each other, but you can guide the discussion and learn more about their wants and needs by asking questions and guiding the discussion.

Start a Twitter chat

Depending on your event, more of your attendees might be active on Twitter. If this is the case, starting a Twitter chat is a great way to foster a community without an in-person event.

There are a few ground rules for hosting a successful Twitter chat, including:

  • Guide the discussion by asking questions 
  • Prepare your questions in advance
  • Choose a recurring date and time
  • Decide if your chat is weekly or monthly
  • Have a theme so attendees know what to expect
  • Create a custom hashtag like #MyEventChat for people to follow
  • Include the custom hashtag in every tweet related to the chat

You can add extra value to your Twitter chat by inviting industry experts to join the chat and share their expertise with attendees. 

The most important part of hosting a Twitter chat is being prepared. As the moderator, it can get overwhelming to manage the conversation and publish chat questions at the same time. 

You can avoid this by scheduling your tweets in advance using a tool like HubSpot or Buffer, but if you don’t use a scheduling tool then at least make sure you’ve written them down in advance.

Focus on your email list

Email is one of the most effective ways to reach people. The average open rate for a welcome email is 82%, and the average return-on-investment (ROI) is $42 for every $1 you spend on email marketing.

That being said, don’t just send an email because you’re anxious about losing touch with your attendees. Make sure your emails are useful.

What do we mean by “useful”? Here are a few examples:

  • Have one central topic per email
  • Write about topics attendees care about
  • Keep it short and simple
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs
  • Send them consistently (weekly, monthly, etc)
  • Include a clear call-to-action (CTA)

Host a Slack workspace where attendees can hang out

Slack channels are popping up everywhere to help people cope with the isolation of social distancing. Creating a channel gives attendees a place they can spend time, talk to one another, and feel a shared sense of community without attending an event in person.

To keep the conversation from getting overwhelming with too many participants, create Channels within your Slack workspace to organize discussions by topic. 

How event creators can adapt to Coronavirus event cancellations

Event creators need to be resilient and creative during this strange period. By finding digital ways to connect with attendees they can continue to foster communities without relying on in-person events.

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