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How Critical are Virtual Booths to Effective Networking?

“Can I have a booth?” This is the most common request sponsors ask virtual event organizers, and the answer is: “It’s complicated.”

Organizations use event booths to showcase their brand, launch new products, demo technologies to exclusive groups (e.g., investors, media, clients, etc.), display research, gather for fireside chats, meet with potential clients, hold job interviews and more, but what does a “booth” look like in a virtual world? There are several virtual event platforms that can emulate in-person events with 3D graphics and virtual halls, but depending on event goals, there are other tools that can help brands fully leverage a virtual event and create engaging sponsor experiences.

The first step is to identify event goals and determine which features will work best for the host organization and/or sponsor. Goals could include:

  • increase visibility via prominent branding opportunities,
  • facilitate engagement and authentic conversations, and/or
  • host exclusive (small group or one-on-one) interactions.

Let’s take a deeper dive into these goals, and review how various tools can be used to achieve them through a virtual event.

Increase visibility via prominent branding opportunities

Placement of a sponsor’s booth and the location within the expo hall can make or break a sponsorship agreement at an in-person event, but virtual events have the upper hand when assigning premium locations to sponsors. To increase sponsor visibility online, event organizers must think creatively for solutions that leverage digital-first tools.

Virtual event organizers should consider the following unconventional — but effective — brand placements:

  • Swag Bags: A company brand can be represented via physical or digital swag bags.
    • Physical swag bag items could include stickers, notebooks, lanyards, pens, brochures, toys and more.
    • Digital swag bag ideas range from discount codes to virtual backgrounds, downloadable capability statements and branded event playlists.
  • Digital Logos: Sponsor logos can be prominently displayed within a virtual event platform or on the resulting content.
    • Within a platform, logos could be displayed via a sponsor page, the top navigation bar, the login page and/or banner ads on a specific session.
    • A sponsor logo could also be included in multimedia content via a video watermark, as a title slide or on the end slide of both live and post-event recordings.
  • Third-Party Platforms: Online tools can create unique and memorable brand interactions. For example, companies could:
    • present a poster session via a virtual booth in Gather,
    • display a sponsor logo on signage around the Rambly room,
    • showcase a “billboard” logo in Spatial, and/or
    • create a custom audio channel in Clubhouse.

These ideas merely scratch the surface when it comes to distinctive branding opportunities available to sponsors looking to embrace the virtual event landscape.

Facilitate engagement and authentic conversations

Virtual event sponsors are looking to facilitate meaningful conversations that drive results.

Sponsors should consider utilizing the following tools and tactics to increase event engagement online:

  • Slack/Discord Channel: Event organizers can auto-add attendees to a sponsor-created channel which can be used to promote the brand and engage attendees during the event.
  • Welcome Video(s): An inviting video to kick off the event is a passive way to introduce all attendees to the sponsor.
  • Speaking Opportunities: Sponsor spokespeople could present a talk or tutorial on their company/product/service.
  • Session Moderation: A talk moderated by a sponsor spokesperson gives the sponsor exclusive access to the session’s presenter and it’s a great way to introduce the audience to the sponsor brand.
  • Third-Party Platforms: Sponsor logos can be placed in a high-traffic area of tools like Gather, Rambly and Spatial for an attendee to view while moving to another presentation, networking session or evening social.

For more information about engaging sponsors, read: Fact vs. Fiction: Sponsor & Exhibitor ROI at Virtual Events.

Host exclusive (small group or one-on-one) interactions

Exclusive spaces could be used to unveil a new product, hold a job interview, talk about the state of the company with potential partners and/or investors or conduct focus groups, but what does an exclusive space look like in a virtual world?

To create a custom experience/exclusive space for sponsors, event organizers should consider the following tools:

  • Slack/Discord Direct Messages: Sponsors can instigate individual/group discussions with select attendees and utilize integrations like Zoom and/or Teams to host phone calls or screen shares.
  • Face2Face: Attendees interested in discussing a topic can join Face2Face sessions where sponsors offer insight, feedback and organically leverage their brand as part of the discussion.
  • Third-Party Platforms: Event organizers can ensure sponsors have one-on-one or small group spaces branded for each organization using Gather, Rambly and/or Spatial. Sponsors can also offer a social room in Clubhouse for interested parties to join the conversation.

Inviting target audiences to participate in small groups and/or exclusive discussions with a sponsor is a powerful engagement tactic that can be achieved efficiently and effectively using online tools.

The new reality is clear: sponsors don’t need a traditional “booth” or “expo hall” space during a virtual event to increase their brand visibility, facilitate authentic conversations and host exclusive interactions. Start an open dialogue and use a creative lens on online event tools to offer a unique twist for sponsorship opportunities. Learn more on how to create ROI at a virtual event here.

Could LoudSwarm be a good fit for your upcoming virtual events? Simply drop us a note and/or schedule a demo of LoudSwarm’s features and white-glove service.

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