When you’re organising an event, a huge amount of your time is taken up with real things, in real spaces. Venues, lighting rigs, sound systems, catering… all of these factors require plenty of effort and planning, and they make it very easy to forget that nowadays - in the ever-quickening 21st century - your event exists not only in a real, physical space, but also in an online space, too. That's the basic mindset to be in when examining viral events.
Examining Viral Events
The online aspect of your event is massively important; not only does social media and online marketing play a huge role in getting attendees interested and excited about your event, it’s also important to remember that your guests will be tweeting, sharing photos of the event, and very much making it part of their online bubbles.
As all contemporary event planners know, the trick to generating real buzz about an event is to make it go viral online. Viral events are those which set the internet ablaze with gossip, intrigue and interest, and which generate great levels of shareability - potential attendees, sponsors and future guests will share viral content between them, allowing it to develop a life of its own.
It’s the best way to reach the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time, and the best thing about content from viral events is that it is organic; that is, you’re not forcing it into people’s hands and pushing it onto your target audience’s screens.
It’s being shared by the audience themselves, passed from device to device, posted on blogs and forums, social media accounts and more. Sounds great, right?
The Fine Art of Organising a Viral Event
Unfortunately, viral events content isn’t the easiest of things to generate. You are the not the one who gets to decide what goes viral, and what doesn’t… that’s entirely up to the online community who comes across it.
Creating a viral event is an artform, and one which takes a lot of savvy and more than a bit of luck - but it’s far from impossible to achieve, so long as you’re hitting the right notes and reaching out in the right places.
As always, we’re keen to help all we can when it comes to events organising, and for many of you out there, this subject of viral events creation might be unfamiliar waters.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of factors we think you should be involving and approaches you should be trying, in order to help your event go viral. However, it’s important to remember one thing: going viral should be an aspiration, not an objective.
If all you focus on is getting tens of thousands of likes, retweets or shares, the chances are you’ll end up disappointed… and who knows, maybe you’ll get distracted from some of those ‘real’ things we mentioned at the top of this article! Read on for our top tips for going viral.
1. Innovate with Technology
We’re at a turning point in our civilisation, and artificial intelligence is buzzing on everyone’s lips. Nothing generates buzz around an event like the presence of new technologies - last year saw a glut of multi-sensory technological experiences at major events all over the world- and this year, audiences are eager to see what AI programming can bring to gatherings, conferences, products launches and all other manner of events.
We’ve already seen AI personal assistants such as Siri and Alexa enter our own homes, and event organisers are beginning to explore their potential as virtual concierge services, capable of remembering the preferences and requirements of every single guest.
Look into how you can use AI and robotics for your event, write up some powerful press releases and social media content based on the subject, and you’ll have a sure-fire viral hit on your hands. Just check out the buzz that happened at OppiKoppi festival in 2013, when drones delivered drinks to people in the crowd - that’s the kind of innovation we’re talking about!
2. Target Specific Online Communities
Everyone likes feeling special, and people especially love it when they feel as though an event has been put together with them in mind. When you target specific online communities with an event, you are more likely to sell out, due to the fact that those in the community in question are more likely to share your information, encourage each other to sign up, and get more actively involved in helping you promote it.
Indeed, you can push this even further by requesting feedback or ideas from certain online communities. This will have the effect of making the members feel like they are contributing in some way to the event, and they’ll be more likely to offer their support and those all-important shares.
3. Make All Your Content Shareable and Available
While exclusivity certainly has its place in the events industry, openness is the way to get that viral aspect rolling. If you make all of your content - videos, flyers, gifs, memes, programs and speaker lists etc - shareable and public, it’s far more likely to be handed around the various social media platforms, and gain traction as it spreads.
In order for this to succeed, you’ll really need to emphasize the quality of your content, and begin generating the buzz yourself.
However, once done, it isn’t too difficult to get it shared and you’ll soon be seeing it appearing in all corners of the net!
4. Involve High Profile Influencers
The landscape of fame, celebrity and social power has evolved and shifted massively over the past few years. Today, online celebrities can have enormous influence, and can instantly reach millions of individuals via their personal, unfiltered, unobstructed social media accounts.
Getting the attention of one such ‘influencer’ can be your ticket to a viral event - research who in your industry has the greatest reach on social media, and find a way to get their involvement or endorsement.
5. Make Your Event Be Self-Organised
This decade has seen the rise of TedX events, Meetups, and all manner of events which almost seem more like franchises, capable of being bought and run independently of the original article which started things off. Take a look at the TedX website, and have a look at how they’ve managed to turn the events industry on its head with their innovative idea!
If you’re able to dream up a format for an event which can be replicated and reproduced across the country - or even across the globe - you’ve unlocked the key to virality, and considerable success.
Just make sure you have strong branding, which can be kept absolutely consistent from place to place, and provide those who want to hold one of your events with everything they’ll need to make it a roaring success, too.
6. Provide Something Brand New
Want to know the easiest way to make your event go viral? Offer your guests and attendees something completely new, totally unique, and utterly unforgettable. We’re well aware that this is easier said than done, but there was a time when now-common corporate event ideas such as murder mystery evenings, zorbing and silent discos were something totally new and somewhat mind-blowing.
In order to make your event into something which involves things your attendees wouldn’t have dreamed of coming across before, you’re really going to have to put some work in when it comes to reading up on new trends.
Keep your finger on the pulse of the latest activities, pop culture happenings and fashions, don’t be scared to jump headfirst into something once you’ve discovered it.
Whether it’s a new type of networking game, or a brand new presentation technique like those who came up with Ignite - (which was hugely viral when it first hit the scene), originality almost always pays off.
7. Use Co-Created Marketing and Competitions
If you’ve already got a sizeable social media following, this technique can really help your event go viral. All you need to do is get your fans and followers to get stuck in, and help you create some marketing material - this might be a poster, a slogan, or something similar - and the prize you offer is a pair of free tickets to your event.
It’s incredible just how creative people can be when they’re motivated to be part of something bigger, and when there’s a great prize involved. For example, the Encounters Festival in the UK runs an annual 90 second short film competition each year, with the winner’s film being featured at the festival and in their promotional material.
Let's Go Viral!
The rise of social media has made the world of events organising a more exciting, more dynamic and more open industry than ever before, and this concept of ‘going viral’ has helped some events rocket over the competition and achieve massive success.
If you’d like some help getting your event into the stratosphere, and ensuring it all goes off with a huge bang - get in touch today with Ultimate Experience, a top-notch provider of everything you need to hit the high notes in the events industry.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our top tips for helping you create a viral event. As always, we love to hear from you - have you come across any of these methods? Do you have any great ideas you’d like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!