How do you connect with your VG viewers at home? The Live Chat is a fun and effective way to involve everyone and keep them engaged. Here’s Part One of our two-part series on getting the most out of your chat feature.
Why is engagement so important?
Our data suggests that when we convert a virtual gala viewer into a participant, your fundraising reaps the benefits.
- Participants who are engaged and interacting are up to four times more likely to give or bid during your fundraising event than a typical viewer (or voyeur) is.
- Engaged donors are more likely to stay online for the duration of your live streamed event, which is key to get them to understand your impact and move them to action (giving big!).
- Donor feedback is much improved when they’ve interacted with your fundraiser, had some fun and participated in planned activities.
Celebrate Success & Show Gratitude
Good chat cheerleaders will enthusiastically celebrate all the donations that come in and thank your donors immediately. Just like athletes celebrate their teammate’s winning goal or buzzer-beating shot, chat cheerleaders celebrate your success like it’s their own. They are, after all, an integral part of your team and they live for bidding wars! When it comes down to the last two or three bidders vying for that big trip, it’s a ton of fun to egg on the competition. “You’re not going to let them steal your trip, are you?!” Good-natured ribbing is entertaining AND memorable. And it’s fun for all viewers, not just the bidders. Another big responsibility of your chat cheerleaders is to thank donors in real time, on the spot. Trust us, you don’t want to underestimate the power of this! Abundant appreciation pays off in BIG ways.
One of the things we miss out on with virtual, as opposed to in-person events, is intimacy. But that intimacy can be re-created on some level in the live chat. We’ve seen heartwarming back-and-forth conversations between the org’s leaders and their supporters in the chat. Supporters won’t soon forget that the ED or Board Chair took the time to thank them personally for their presence and/or donation. They won’t forget how good it made them feel, either!
Reinforce Your Mission
Chat cheerleaders speak your unique mission language. They remind people why they’re watching and why their support of your org is vital. What does your org do and why is it important? Why should I care? Chat cheerleaders make sure these questions don’t go unanswered! They reiterate visually what folks are hearing and reinforce critical messaging. The result? Increased comprehension and retention of your important and painstakingly crafted content. Your VG script should be a condensed version of what it would’ve been for your in-person event. You’re only live for a short time, and that time goes by fast. If people aren’t listening attentively at all times (let’s face it, there are tons of distractions for folks watching at home), they’ll miss out on some vital nuggets from your show. But not when chat cheerleaders are involved!
Enhance Ideas & Messaging
If you have an incredibly inspiring speaker with a powerful message on behalf of your org (and we certainly hope you do!), the chat is the perfect place to reflect on and reinforce the ideas that are presented. We had the pleasure of listening to a speech delivered by the unpretentiously brilliant Van Jones, on behalf of POIC+Rosemary Anderson High School. Here’s something he said live:
“The people who are closest to the problems are also closest to the solutions. But they’re just farthest from the resources and the opportunities to act on what they know. What we have a chance to do tonight and I hope the giving will continue, is to put the resources, put the dollars, put the power in the hands of the people who are helping the people. Directly.”
Think about THAT. It was incredibly powerful when he said it live. It was even MORE powerful when folks in the chat re-quoted it, thought more about it, and discussed it, together IN THE CHAT! It was a powerful reinforcement of an idea that would have otherwise been fleeting! People watching may have remembered he said something great, but when it was posted in the chat, it gave people more time to think about it, remember it, absorb it. As a result, it took on even more meaning.
Technical Support & Troubleshooting
Am I properly registered? When does the online auction close? Can I still buy a raffle ticket? Why can’t I hear anything? Who can I call for help? If someone needs assistance, they can turn to the chat. It’s a friendly place to get your questions answered or be directed to someone who has the answers. When things go wrong, as they sometimes do, the in-studio team doesn’t always know about it right away. But folks at home notice immediately. Sure, you’ve provided a help line for folks to call if they need more extensive technical help, but some problems can be easily remedied through the chat. Question: Why can’t I hear anything? Answer: Is your mute button on? Why, yes it is! I’ll just click here and VOILA. I have sound! If only ALL of life’s problems could be solved so easily, huh?
Banish the Trolls
Chat cheerleaders can also serve as gatekeepers, if necessary. Usually everyone watching your VG has good intentions. But occasionally you’ll come across a bored troll who gets their jollies off of posting negative and/or inappropriate things in the chat for shock value. An extreme example of this is when one of our peers had pornographic images and expletives posted in the chat of their VG. Can you even imagine? Give your chat cheerleaders the power to delete comments that don’t belong, and in extreme cases, ban the troll entirely and permanently. Again, it’s not likely to be a problem, but just in case it is, be ready.
Have Some Fun!
A virtual event script is somewhat condensed from its in-person event counterpart. You just don’t have time (or viewer attention) to include everything you would in an in-person event. But if you look at the chat as an extension of your script, you can fit in more content!
Incentives, Trivia & Prizes
Encourage your chat cheerleaders to pepper in fun facts about your org. Ask questions and celebrate correct answers! In fact, you can even incentivize viewers through trivia contests and incentive drawings with prizes. We’ll go more in-depth on how to do this in our next blog. So keep reading!
Bet you have some ideas on how you can make the live chat in your VG more exciting and engaging! Reach out – let’s burn the proverbial box and get creative together!