31 tools and platforms to host events online

Kate Pluth

06 April 2020

Marketers across the world are facing a new way of life when it comes to how they conduct their campaignscommunicate their brand, and run their events. Tradeshows, conferences, and roundtables have been forced to either cancel, postpone, or move online. 

In the short term, virtual and online events are the new imperative, but they’re set to only become more prevalent over time, too. Gartner expects that online meeting solutions will rapidly increase over the next four years, and by 2024, only a quarter of enterprise meetings will take place face- to- face. So, getting set up with a provider now could pay dividends down the line as well as solve your immediate team needs. 

Those that move events online are facing the huge task of deciding which platform is best suited for their purpose. There’s an endless list of providers, and searching out which is best for your event could leave your working hours chewed up before you even send invites out.  

To help marketers, we’ve put together a long list for considerationcategorizing platforms into five groups:  

  • Best suited for virtualizing physical spaces and holding large events 
  • Best suited for many-to-many networking 
  • Best suited for webinars 
  • Best suited for online discussion and community building 
  • Other tools that could compliment your online events 

We hope this list proves useful in moving your events online. Of course, after you have taken a look at the platforms and toolsquickly establishing the right technology is just the start: audience, content, distribution, promotion, moderation, and integration with the sales pipeline, also need to be considered. 

Here is the list: 

Best suited for virtualizing physical spaces and holding large events: 

6Connex – Host a virtual trade show, job fair, summit, and even establish an e-learning program for your organization. 6Connex can create virtual booths, informal networking lounges, and an event help desk. Vendors can customize the look and branding of the virtual space, which is great for sponsors, and present demos through video, with reporting and analytics provided to show impact. 

Airmeet – Allows organizers to host up to one million live attendees and let them seamlessly interact with each otherfacilitating networking breaks, Q&As, backstage events, fireside chats, speeches, and moderated discussions. 

Hopin– Designed to emulate larger conferences and events, Hopi In lets organizers have a main speaker stage, smaller session, and one-on-one networking. It’s still in early access beta, but it’s worth keep an eye on developments. 

Remo – A virtual trade show that can have both virtual tables and floors. Several hosts can present via video and screen sharing. The virtual tables also allow attendees to break out into separate groups of up to six participants.  

INXPO An all-in-one platform that can replicate tradeshows and conferences virtually, supporting over 200,000 attendees concurrently. INXPO offers a range of event management solutions so the platform also incorporates features like registration management, interactive webcasts, multivariate testing and real-time analytics, and content/resource organization. 

Best suited for many-to-many networking: 

vFairs– Host virtual job fairs, tradeshows, conferences, and more. Participants can connect through chat rooms, live webinars, and digital content. 

Brella – This platform pairs livestream sessions and event track capabilities with a set of virtual networking tools, like 1:1 video conference scheduling and AI matchmaking to suggest who attendees should meet with. 

Run The World – The big differentiator separating this service is that attendees have to pay a $1 minimum fee for any events they want to attend. Organizers can run events for free with plug-and-play event templates. 

Teeoh– Provides a social experience for groups of people who otherwise can’t attend events in -person. It also provides organizers with the opportunity to sell tickets. Teeoh is a useful platform for holding virtual meetups to share content and presentations for up to 100 attendees, virtual mastermind groups for roundtable discussions in groups of up to 24, and virtual fireside chats with up to 100 attendees. 

Icebreaker – Offers a main chat room where a host can present via video or share YouTube videos to participants, but there is no screensharing capability. The core differentiator of this platform is that it allows participants to all be matched at random with one other attendee through a series of games. Each game offers a series of cards with talking points and questions - or icebreakers – that the two matched attendees can use to get to know each other. 

Toasty  Similar in format to Icebreaker, Toasty offers activities that participants can engagand connect with using their smartphones. Toasty is suited for community network meetups, collaborative workshops and training, and orientation and team building. 

Best suited for webinars: 

Crowdcast – Organizers can host live talk shows, webinars, Q&As, summits, and more, with capabilities that offer virtual events at scale. Interactive features such as chat and polls are available as is broadcasting to platforms such as Facebook Live, Periscope, and YouTube Live. 

HeySummit– Acts as an infrastructure wrapper turning webinars and pre-recorded content into larger eventsOne caveat – HeySummit requires another webinar platform for any live content. 

Demio – Providing a simple, no-download webinar experience for your audience, Demio is suitable for live and automated webinars, offers the ability to create registration pages and webinar replays and allows you to integrate with widely used marketing tools through Zapier. 

RingCentral – Offering both enterprise and SME options, RingCentral is a more traditional webinar offering, with both internal collaboration features and the ability to hold online meetings. RingCentral’s biggest advantage is its ability to render recordings quickly. 

Twitch – Twitch has become a powerful streaming platform for much more than just gaming, it also offers organizers the ability to host large audiences across a variety of devicesStreams have interactive chats, and partners and affiliates can earn money from subscriptions. 

ON24 – Webinar and digital content platform optimized for driving demand. ON24 hosts live and on-demand content experiences, builds in interactivity and engagement features, and then integrates with most marketing automation platforms so that marketing and sales teams can identify and follow up with leads. 

YouTube Live – Organizers can livestream using desktop or mobile through the YouTube app. Hosts can reach their audience in real time on a robust platform. 

Zoom – Capabilities include video conferencing, webinars, conference rooms, and an enterprise-grade phone system. Events can be held by one host or as a group, with up to 1,000 video participants and 10,000 viewers. Zoom also facilitates breakout rooms. 

Shindig – Offers hosts the ability to hold a video conference, lecture, seminar,  interview, or media event in front of an online audience of up to 1,000. Hosts can share the stage for face-to-face interactions with audience members before the entire audience or break -off for discussions with participants privately. Shindig also offers integrations with YouTube and Facebook Live. 

Best suited for online discussion and community building: 

Slack – A crowd favorite for organizing chat-based networking around your event. Predominantly used for internal collaboration but also provides the ability for community building. 

Discord – A lot like Slack, except that Discord doesn’t require an enterprise package to use at scale. While this tool is predominantly used in the gaming industry, many companies outside of the gaming industry use Discord to give their communities a place to congregate.  Channel owners can share a link to their Discord server where community members can talk through text chat or join voice chat groups. There are currently no limits to the number of users or channels each server has. 

Facebook Groups – Another free option that most people are already comfortable and familiar with. We’ve had experience setting up Facebook Groups for events and it’s something people do engage with. There’s nothing new to download or set up. 

Microsoft Teams – Predominantly an internal collaboration platform, Teams allows users to set up video calls and engage in text chat on desktop and mobile devices. Chat is available for free, but other features require a paid package. 

Other tools to compliment your events: 

Virtual Braindate by e180– With this tool, you can connect attendees with mentors and experts for one-to-one and small group discussions on your chosen topic for a peer learning experience. 

VideoAsk – This platform is best suited as a compliment to online events. Hosts and speakers can use the tool for Q&As, giving video answers that can be shared on social and video channels once the event is over. 

Slido – An easy-to-use audience polling and Q&A platform. Great for in-person as well as virtual events. The free option is suitable for most events, but if you want more advanced moderation tools then you’ll need to use the paid plan. 

Notion and Google Docs  – great options for hosting spaces where attendees can collaborative as well as take and share notes with each other. 

Poll Everywhere and Kahoot – Audience engagement and polling tools that you can use to add to the overall event experience.  

Not only are these providers necessary for those wanting to hold events in these unprecedented times, but as the potential to take more work on remotely presents itself, we may find ourselves hosting virtual events more often than before. 

If you’d like to learn more about hosting successful virtual events, get in touch