Good question! Unfortunately, the answer is no, but they stick around for a lot longer than you would think. Perhaps we should rephrase to, “How long do people stay online at a virtual event?” Much better. Recent data coming from events run by Unisfair show that users will stick around for between two and three hours at a time. I’ve seen this first hand with the events we’ve run, too. That said, there are a lot of variables baked into that generic number.
I sought to dig a little deeper into this question of how long virtual event attendees stay online and started searching furiously to find any data available. Most of the data at this point is anecdotal and extremely varied. When asked this question now my response is, “how long do you want them to stay online?” Most people don’t really know how to respond to that and it reveals that they’re not really concerned with the actual data point, but more with the justification for cramming content into the event. Herein lies the problem of context. When your event is well planned and highly engaging you can expect people to stick around for the whole thing. But do you really need them to?
When you’re transitioning from a face to face event structure to a virtual event structure, do you really need to replicate the amount of content in the face to face experience? Think on it for a second because it will really make you dig for the actual goals of the event – your goals as the host organization. The answer may be, “yes, we have 20 hours of content that every attendee must have access to because it is all critical information.” How much of that information is really timely as opposed to “they just need access to it at some point?”
My point here is this: decide what level of engagement is required of your attendees for both you and them to consider it worthwhile. We can’t expect people to sit at their desks and be engaged all day, so what should we ask of them? What time of day is most appropriate? What activities should they participate in during their block of reserved time to make it truly valuable to THEM as an attendee? What do you need from them to make it worthwhile to you as the organizer?
Those weren’t rhetorical. I really want to know… hit up the comments below and let’s hear it!