The newest online buzzword, the word “summit” does little to convey what it is that everyone is raving about. The good news is, you’re not on your own. We can explain what a virtual summit is, why you’d want to create or be involved in one, and just how beneficial it can be for your business or brand.
Seriously – What is a Virtual Summit?
A virtual summit is a live-streamed or recorded online Q&A where a host interviews a number of experts, while at the same time fielding questions from a virtual audience of onlookers. That’s it. Don’t let the piles of articles and blog posts and services scare you: that’s really all it is. A camera or two on an expert and a host (who need not be in the same room – thus the benefits of virtual summits), and some kind of chat interface for the people watching the video.
That’s all there is to it. Sounds easy? Good, it is easy! The only complex part is learning how to make the most out of either being in a virtual summit or throwing a virtual summit.
Isn’t it Expensive to Throw a Virtual Summit?
When people ask about how to organize a summit, their first question is about cost.
The benefit of a virtual summit is the relatively low price of admission. Throwing your own physical convention can break the bank – you’re renting convention space, doing 100% of the marketing yourself, hiring security and convention staff, paying for insurance, paying for employee hotel rooms and per diem, the whole boat. How can a small business even consider throwing a conference? Before now, they couldn’t. But with the option of a virtual summit, it’s not just the big boys who can control networking anymore.
You’re only real cost with a virtual summit is the price of a webcam (which you and everyone involved probably already has on their laptop, tablets, or mobile phones), the price of a video conferencing service or video conferencing software, and as much as you’d like to spend on marketing, of course.
A fraction of the overhead for an easy-to-attend conference? That’s hard to beat.
But How Do You Market Summits Online?
There’s no end to how much you can spend on marketing. To quote Creedence Clearwater Rival, “And when you ask them ‘how much should we give,’ they only answer ‘more more more!’”
However, one of the most enticing features of a virtual summit is that you’re not responsible for every ounce of marketing. Consider the summit itself: you’ve got a host, expert speakers, and the producers of the summit itself.
The host: You’re going to want a charismatic host with some experience in interviews, panel-wrangling, and audience support. A host like that going to have some kind of following of their own, and you can bet they are going to be marketing their appearance at the summit on their own channel. They’ll be using their social media to promote your summit free of charge.
The same goes for your expert speakers, of course. If you’ve lined up the right experts for your summit, they should already have a built-in fanbase, even if it’s just other experts and students in their fields. Everyone wants to get their message out, which means all of your expert speakers will be hustling viewers for your summit. That’s multiple experts, mind you, all funneling their followers into one channel – your channel.
As for the marketing, the producer is going to do, that’s up to you. Use every social media apparatus at your disposal, making liberal use of hashtags and existing groups in the same interest area as your summit. Facebook has all kinds of interest groups you could inform about the summit, as do Reddit, Tumbler, and Instagram.
There’s no channel too small, and posting on social media is free. All it takes is time.
Does Anyone Even Attend These Things?
Consider this: one in four students is taking online classes these days. The YouTube channel for TED talks has 9.2 million subscribers. The fact is, people, seek knowledge online more than they ever have, and legitimate channels of education have made themselves available for that purpose.
Consider the amount of online job training and certifications that are happening at offices across the world. Who hasn’t had to take some kind of online seminar due to their job? The number of people who haven’t is dwindling.
If attendees know they don’t have to buy a plane ticket, rent a hotel, get a babysitter, arrange for pet and house sitting, and make sure the perishables in the fridge aren’t perishing, there are way more likely to attend your online conference.
Expand Your Brand with a Virtual Summit
A virtual summit saves you time, energy, money, and stress. It expands your brand using group marketing and provides a useful service to the audience members seeking more information about the topic. The experts get to share their knowledge, the host gets to pad his resume, and everyone on board expands their brand. Talk about a win-win.