Which platform is ideal for your next online event?

Are you planning your next virtual event? The world of digital conferences, summits, and webinars has come on leaps and bounds over the last year, out of necessity, but that’s no reason to slow down now.

Online events can be more accessible, more international, and attract a wider range of people than in-person ones. But with digital events, there is one important consideration that can make or break your plans: finding the ideal online event platform for your needs.

What to consider

Here are a few quick questions you should ask yourself before you get started:

  • What’s your budget?
  • Is it a one-off event or do you need recurrent events throughout the year?
  • What is your expected audience size?
  • Do you have sponsors or different parties that need expo stands?
  • Do you need interaction or will it take a webinar format?
  • What is your audience demographic? Are they tech-savvy? Are they corporate, or more casual?

Zoom

It’s been everyone’s best friend during the pandemic and for good reason: Zoom has tons of great benefits. If you’re simply holding a meeting, people can join it without signing up. Even for other features, sign-up is pretty painless, so there shouldn’t be too many obstacles for your attendees. Plus, it’s been so widely used over the last year or so, almost everyone knows how to use it by now.

It’s also pretty cost-effective, with up to 40 mins of group calls included within the free version. For more complex events, you’ll likely need to upgrade your plan so you can use the webinar version. It offers tons of useful features, including breakout rooms for smaller group discussions to make your event truly interactive.

However, when it comes to high-level occasions, like a conference or summit, there’s not really the features available to manage higher numbers of attendees. For example, you don’t have a dedicated event space where attendees can hang out and see other rooms and sponsors.

In addition, although most people know how to use Zoom, you do need to download the Zoom app to use it, so that can add an extra obstacle for users, especially for free or last-minute events.

Hopin

Hopin is another great option for virtual events, especially if you’re hosting a conference or something similar. It has a range of features to make a digital conference feel just like a real one, including a live stage, smaller breakout rooms, and a lounge and expo area to accommodate sponsors.

You can also do live streams or present pre-recorded videos, whatever suits your production team best. There’s also a one-to-one speed networking feature to encourage your attendees to get to know one another.

With all of these fab features, however, Hopin is quite expensive. To make the most of all the features, it’s best suited for larger events, but the free plan only includes events up to 100. Once you get over that mark, you’ll be charged $83.25 a month at the lowest plan, quickly jumping up to $667 a month after that.

As with Zoom, attendees will also need to have a Hopin account, which requires double-opt-in. This can be an extra barrier for attendees to sign up for your event.

Butter

If you’re working with a tight budget, Butter is a great choice, as it’s completely free for now. It’s perfect for more light-hearted events or workshops, offering a fun, interactive interface that’s easy to understand.

It was designed specifically for educational environments, with plenty of refined workshop facilitation designed to offer the best experience possible for your attendees. It also integrates smoothly with a range of other platforms, including Youtube, Miro, and Drive.

Butter is also easy to engage people with, with break-out rooms, built-in timers for activities and challenges, and sound effects to keep the mood fun and appealing.

The main focus of Butter is more casual, light-hearted workshops, so it might not be suitable for corporate environments. It also works best with Chrome, which can be an obstacle if you’re inviting people from a range of different workspaces. That means it’s not always the best option for webinars or networking events, if that’s what you have in mind.

Socio

In my opinion, Socio offers all that Hopin does and more, for a lower price. Win-win, right?

Socio has many different features for corporate events, including the possibility of having a dedicated app for your event. You can customise different options within your account to truly make your event your own, such as creating a registration service, offering a live stream, and so on.

It’s not suitable for one-off events, as you need a business account, but if you’re organising several big corporate conferences, it’s well worth the investment. Even after the event itself, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Learn from what you’ve done with detailed reporting of the event and analytics to help make your next one even bigger and better.

Mibo

Mibo is probably the most social and fun of all these different platforms, offering a completely different experience. It’s great for social events and company happy hours, giving people the chance to blow off some steam.

It’s not suitable for crowded events if you have only one host and is better used for medium-sized groups to mingle and hang out with one another. To make the most of it, do some research in advance to find some games. As part of my work at Othership, we organised a Social Friday Happy Hour using Mibo and it was a lot of fun.

Swapcard

Swapcard includes a range of AI features, making it a great choice for tech-heads who like a lot of data-focused features. It also offers a very organised agenda, giving you full control over an event. If you’re planning an event with a lot of moving parts, Swapcard is useful at making sure everything runs smoothly.

The platform offers matchmaking features, encouraging greater interaction between guests. It’s ideally suited for multi-day conferences with different sessions, where you want to facilitate networking and inter-attendee engagement.

As with many platforms, you and your guests will need a Swapcard account to see the event, but it’s a pretty versatile tool overall.

Remo

Another option for events with a conference format, Remo simulates a physical event. Guests will be able to see floor plans, seats, and a stage virtually. It offers some neat features that make it fairly unique.

However, that unusual feel does mean it’s very expensive when compared to other options. There’s no free plan, although you can try out a guided demo, and the cheapest plan starts from $100 a month. It’s quite the investment!

 


 

Hopefully that has given you some insight into what sort of event platform might suit your next event. If you have any other specific questions that haven’t covered here, get in touch with me.