How to Select the Right Virtual Platform

With the world being forced to go completely virtual, our daily schedules, planners, and overall structure has been completely unhinged. The good news is, we can sleep later, spend less time getting ready, and avoid traffic altogether. What has become more complicated, is how we can continue to stay connected to not only our colleagues but our friends and family from the safety of our homes.

We quickly have had to pivot. The work meetings you had set up for this week, both internally and externally, had to be moved to a phone call or a Zoom meeting. The happy hour you had set up with your friends for Friday night will now be over Facetime. The new product you were planning to activate during a big launch event will have to be, as you’d assume, canceled. All big plans you’ve had set up for the next couple of months must either be canceled or recreated with a completely new vision.

You don’t need to necessarily cancel EVERYTHING you’ve got planned. Luckily, it’s 2020 so there is plenty of software and apps out there for you to conduct successful meetings, host a big launch event to promote a new product or service, or even have a happy hour with a group of people (colleagues or friends). What can be overwhelming is the number of options to choose from. How do you pick the right platform?

I have broken down the list of recommended software based on the type of event or meeting you will be hosting and provided a few options for you to consider!

Internal Company Meeting
Option 1: ZOOM
ZOOM has been everyone’s go-to video chatting technology. The good news is, most people will have downloaded it and used it before, so you’re not trying to teach a dog new tricks. The downside is with internal meetings, you may have to schedule back to back to back ZOOM calls and your entire team may be really sick of the platform by 2:00 pm. What I’d recommend is if it’s a 1:1 call with your employee, stick to a traditional phone call. If it’s a company-wide meeting with 50 executives, include a presentation in the background to keep everyone on track and focused.


Option 2: Microsoft Teams
Teams is another great platform for internal communications. What is unique about teams is that outside of video chatting capabilities, it’s also a collaboration tool. It has the capability to also host folders of work that your internal teams may need to collaborate on, outside of the company network, but still, security protected. For meetings, the video calling feature is easy to use and has little technical difficulties, keeping your teams on track!


External Client Meeting
Option 1: ZOOM
Similarly to your internal company meetings, your external clients will probably be most comfortable with ZOOM as well. This means less time trying to work through technical difficulties and more time getting to work! What is great about ZOOM is the ability to share your screen and/or share a presentation, so it’s very collaborative. It can host up to 100 people, so you can even still have your monthly sales update.


Option 2: Google Hangouts/ Hangouts Meet
Similarly to ZOOM, Google Hangouts is simple, easy to use, and set up through Gmail which most people have an account with already! You can easily jump on a video call, share your screen, and have chat capabilities. However, Google Hangouts can only host up to 10 people. For those that have G Suite, Hangouts Meet is the upgraded version with real-time captions, support for up to 250 participants, and 10,000 live stream viewers.


Launch Event
Option 1: Instagram LIVE
For a virtual launch event, you will want to consider multiple factors.

  1. Where is your audience? Do you gain more engagement on Instagram or Facebook, or somewhere else? What is the age group of your audience? If the answer is mostly Millennials and Gen Z, then Instagram LIVE will be the way to go!
  2. Don’t forget to bring in other partners and speakers. This will widen your IG LIVE audience because you will tap into both your followers AND your speaker/partners’ followers. Be sure to promote your event for at least a week beforehand and post a follow up thank you for attending after as well!

Option 2: Facebook LIVE
After considering your options, you may have decided your age group and audience is more likely to be on Facebook. OR, you decided to try both! We’d recommend you try both, but not at the same time. Host an Instagram LIVE first, then a Facebook LIVE the week after. You’re going after a completely different audience so it won’t overdo it. Again, make sure you do promotion before and after an event. This is a great way to build engaging content without being too sales-y.


Option 3: ZOOM
You may want to host an actual event where your listeners can feel like attendees, meet each other, participate in the discussion, and more! This is where ZOOM will come in for a great option for an event that feels almost like a real event! There are tips and tricks on how to host a great virtual event, including strategies leading up to, during, and after to continue the relationship you’ve now started with your audience and the education you’ve now given them about your product or service. This information will come soon in a future blog post, or you can contact Alexis Rose LLC at connect@alexisrose.co to get started immediately!


Networking Event or Conference
Option 1: ZOOM
Similar to the launch event, you can create a virtual networking event using ZOOM that allows your audience to engage with each other, have a speaker who is leading the conversation, utilize a presentation in the background, and even break your guests into mini break out groups (using the paid version of ZOOM). Make sure there is an overall topic or purpose behind your networking event, so that way you can tailor your content and discussion around this topic rather than having an open free-for-all. It will give your event more depth and meaning during a time when people could instead be, I don’t know, watching Netflix.


Option 2: Lunchpool
This one you’ve probably never heard of before. But, Lunchpool was launched just in time for a 100% virtual lifestyle and provides unique capabilities to its users! This software can host up to 100 people and allows for presenters, engaging speakers panels, live Q&A from your guests, and can break out your guests into groups of 8 at tables where they can interact in a smaller group. This software is also great for more casual meetings or events with colleagues or friends.


Happy Hour with Friends or Colleagues
Option 1: FaceTime
The traditional FaceTime never gets old – especially when it’s impossible to see your friends’ faces in person! FaceTime allows multiple users at once. Just start a group chat (with iPhone only friends, of course) and start a FaceTime call with all parties on the group chat. But first, pour yourself a glass of wine or a beer!


Option 2: House Party
Ready to party like it’s 1999? House Party is an app that allows larger groups to attend the same “party” but breaks people up into smaller groups of eight into separate “rooms”. The app allows you to send private messages while on the call, play a game such as trivia or heads up with the 8 people in your private room, and even send a facemail (a voicemail, but with your face). This app would be fun to try out with your friends or “cool” colleagues.

Option 3: Facebook Messenger

Facebook Messenger just launched a standalone messenger app for Desktop that allows unlimited and FREE group video calls! In an effort to compete with other platforms such as Zoom and Google, Facebook now allows free video desktop calling with an unlimited time limit using the account you most likely already have set up! Nothing new to download or logins to create. This one is great for video chats with friends that you already have on Facebook. However, it may not be best for a work environment, as this platform may mix business and pleasure by using your personal Facebook profile with your boss or client.


Just because we are stuck indoors, for the time being, does not mean you cannot make new connections, build business partnerships, or even make friends!


Take a look at the Tampa Bay Goes Live calendar to see what virtual events are coming up. Or, plan your own! Reach out to the team for help setting up and hosting a successful virtual event.

Visit the author’s website at: www.alexisrose.co

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