When the global pandemic hit, it might have felt like the whole world just happened upon virtual conferences. But that’s simply not the case. Virtual event platforms have been a mainstay for years at this point. And now we need them more than ever.
We promise that virtual event software will allow you to do more than just another Zoom meeting (we’ve certainly had our fair share of those!) The best virtual event platforms will provide you with the features to create an awesome website to host your event and plenty of resources to keep your attendees interested and engaged.
We’ve researched the best virtual event platforms to help you decide which one is the right fit for you.
What features do the best virtual event platform have?
When you’re choosing virtual event software, it’s important to realize that what you’re building is much more than just an event for attendees to experience talks, panels, and presentations from industry leaders. You’re creating an opportunity for attendees to meet like-minded people with similar interests and motivations with each other before and after your event.
Here are some things you should look out for when choosing with virtual event platform is right for you:
- A platform that enables a simple, familiar structure for a conference. While it’s important to utilize the unique environment that virtual events provide (more on that later!) you’re going to want to choose a platform that can enable many of the familiar structures you’d expect from a physical conference. The best virtual event platforms will allow you to create panels, “main stage” keynotes, breakout sessions, Q&As, and more.
- A curated community of like-minded and engaged attendees. You don’t want to bring together just anybody to your virtual event. You want to create a community of attendees who are engaged with your event’s purpose. Because at the end of the day, you’re not just bringing people together for this one event. You’re giving your attendees the opportunity to connect long after the conference is over.
- Pick a platform that has a proven track record. Due to the pandemic, many companies are trying to hop on the virtual event bandwagon, and not all are created equally. It’s important to do your due diligence when choosing the best virtual event platform for your event because you’re only getting one shot at nailing a live conference. Everyone remembers that one talk or panel they attended where the microphones were cut out or someone dropped or froze during a Zoom conference. It’s embarrassing and frustrating for the speakers and the viewers. It’s also incredibly challenging to try and restart everything when issues arise. Picking a platform that has a proven track record for stable online networks will be important.
- A robust set of customizable features to experiment with the virtual event experiences you’re providing attendees. We’ve worked with many organizers to build and deliver successful virtual events. And what we’ve learned is that the best virtual event platforms do more than just replicate what a physical event would be like. Be creative with the opportunities you can create online to connect your attendees together with features like breakout sessions, live text chat, prompts, polls, and more.
Best virtual event platform for the basics: Accelevents
Accelevents is a virtual event platform for virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. It offers a variety of features such as breakout sessions, integrated live streaming, A.I. based matchmaking for attendees aimed at companies that are mid-sized or bigger. But it has a lackluster mobile app experience and no community building features once your virtual event is over.
- Useful set of features. The best virtual event platforms will give you powerful features to deliver a great conference experience. Accelevents has a solid offering with tools like integrated live streaming, live-chat for attendees, and their unique matchmaking A.I. technology.
- Not too pricey. Running a virtual event can be an expensive endeavor that easily can cost into the thousands. While Accelevents certainly can get pricey, it has a base rate of $500 per day.
- Lackluster mobile app. Accelevents recently began offering a mobile app, but it’s barebones in features (and honestly, does not look pretty). Functionality is important, but you also want your attendees to have a pleasurable experience engaging with your virtual event whether it’s on the web or via mobile devices.
- There’s no way to maintain connections between attendees. It’s important to choose a virtual event platform with a robust set of features to create a network for your attendees to connect after the conference is over. Unfortunately, Accelevents doesn’t offer these options. It’s better suited for more impersonal events where attendees won’t really benefit from connecting with each other, like auctions.
Best virtual event platform for one-off events: Convene
Convene is best known for its solutions in physical conference events. But due to the pandemic, Convene recently ventured into virtual event platform solutions. Since it’s new to this space, it doesn’t have a proven record for delivering on the claims that it asserts in its virtual event offerings. TLDR: read carefully.
- The bare essentials. At the very least, Convene offers the basics of what you’d expect in a virtual event platform, including live polling, questionnaires, and breakout sessions.
- Helping hands. In addition to the typical virtual event features you’d expect, Convene promises live support for your events. That means you’ll get a dedicated producer and operator to help you deliver on the big day.
- Lofty claims, unproven results. While Convene presents a promising set of features that could help you produce your virtual event, their claims lack substantial evidence of success from organizers who’ve used their services. The best virtual event platforms should give you quality and reassurance that things will go smoothly.
- Lack of transparency with pricing. The cost of your conference shouldn’t be hidden behind smoke and mirrors. Convene’s features seem great, but they’re pricey. Convene isn’t transparent about the pricing of their services on their website. Dedicated rehearsals, live operators, and producers do not come cheap, so expect a hefty bill.
Best virtual event platform for running low stakes events: Run the World
Run the World is a new player in the world of virtual event platforms, having launched back in February just before we all began thinking about virtual solutions to physical events. Run the World emphasizes that their features will make for more fun and engaging virtual events, and stop you from delivering a virtual event that will put attendees to sleep.
- Fun features. Run the World makes creating your virtual event creation simple with pre-existing templates like “Cocktail Party,” “Presentation,” and “Fireside Chat.” These templates will give you a great starting point for designing your virtual event, especially if you’re less experienced. Run the World also offers breakout sessions, private chats, discussions, and more.
- Unproven track record. Run the World is less than a year old and still in beta. That means it has few reviews and many promises. While we think there are some interesting features, you’re rolling the dice with your virtual event if you go with Run the World and there isn’t a redo button for a conference.
- When the conference ends, that’s it. Run the World has fun features for the duration of your conference. But the best virtual event platforms provide you with a wealth of options to foster continuing interaction between the attendees you’ve brought together. By creating a network for your attendees to converse and share insights before and after the event, you’re providing additional value and staying power.
- Running the world isn’t cheap. While Run the World offers both free and paid plans, the cost will add up quickly. You can have an event of up to 500 attendees on their free plan, but Run the World takes 15% of the ticket price. If you’re a mid-size or bigger company looking to hold a single large event, the price starts at a whopping $6500.
Best virtual event platform for building a conference and community: Mighty Networks
Mighty Networks is a major player in the online community and course creation landscape. Think of us as an alternative to Wix or Shopfiy, but purposefully designed for delivering awesome virtual events, communities, online courses, and paid memberships, all under one brand, and instantly-available across every device—web, iPhone, iPad, and Android.
What that means is that when you choose Mighty Networks you’re getting more than just an awesome place to host your virtual event. You’re also getting powerful features to build a website; engaging tools for continuing interactions with the community of attendees from your virtual event; and a variety of avenues to monetize your brand down the line whether it’s through additional virtual events, paid memberships, or online courses.
- Provide structure to your virtual events and added member benefits, all in one place, under your brand. The best platform for virtual events will give you more opportunities to engage with attendees when the event is over. Mighty Networks not only provides awesome features for delivering your virtual event like RSVPs and messaging (so you can send out reminders), but we also provide member profiles, direct messaging, comments, posts, groups, and of course, paid memberships and one-time payments. All of these options provide you with tools to create a valuable network for attendees to connect with one another.
- Offer a wide range of ways for the community to interact before, during, and after the event is over. It’s important to choose a platform that provides attendees with many ways to communicate with one another. Whether it’s before the event, during, or after. We all know that the people we meet at conferences are what we remember most. When you make your virtual event, you’ll want tools that help facilitate those networking opportunities, and Mighty Networks has a lot of them: live text chat, polls, questionnaires, small groups, discussion boards, comments, and more.
- Cultivate a thriving network for your community that is reachable at any time. Instead of just a simple email list, a Mighty Network gives you a central website for your virtual event topic. This will let your attendees convene and discuss their relevant interests together in one place. Here are a few examples of when this might be useful: to publish speaker bios and hint at Q&As ahead of an event; repurpose conference sessions into digestible lessons when you create online courses, mastermind groups, and in-depth breakout sessions; and you can offer replays and recorded videos with additional notes and commentary as a benefit of a paid membership.
- You’ll need a secondary live video service. Currently, Mighty Networks doesn’t have native live video features on all of it’s services (Update: live video in online course is available now). But we have full integration of Zoom, Crowdcast, Vimeo, and other video options seamlessly. And more importantly, this small limitation hasn’t stopped organizers from making awesome virtual events.
Before you start creating your virtual event…
The best virtual event platforms are ones that offer you a wide variety of features to build a network of value for your attendees. One of the best parts about going to a conference are all the interesting people you meet along the way and the connections you gain.
When choosing the virtual event software for your conference remember that it’s important to invest your money in a platform that has a proven track record for building, delivering, and sustaining virtual events and online communities.
Remember, virtual events shouldn’t try to simply replicate what a physical event would be. The best virtual event platforms will provide you with features that utilize our digital environment to create lasting connections among attendees, engaging and interactive panels and live sessions, and great pricing and support. Mighty Networks provides you with all of these things in addition to a platform that will grow along with your brand.
Why not hop aboard and dive in?