Virtual events are, hands down, the best way to build, nurture and engage your community. Introducing Juliana Shoumbert, the founder of Bilingual Marketplace, and online resource center for Bilingual Teachers around the world. Juliana's been cultivating an online community since 2011, but only entered the world of virtual event marketing in 2020.
Juliana's first virtual event was a huge success, selling 438 tickets the day they went live. It's little surprise that Juliana caught the event marketing high, and has since launched 3 more virtual events with HeySummit.
I spoke to Juliana about Bilingual Marketplace, her transition into virtual event marketing, and using virtual events as powerful community building tools. Here’s what she had to say:
Where did it all begin?
Juliana entered 2011 as a brand new bilingual teacher searching - unsuccessfully - for classroom resources. It was easy to feel like the ‘black sheep’ of the US education system:
“You go to these trainings and hear, ‘Oh, you’re bilingual? Well, we don’t have anything in Spanish.’ You just have to translate everything because they don’t have the training or resources for you.”
Juliana was given no choice but to begin creating her own bilingual teaching materials from scratch. It wasn’t long before she realized, “Wait, there must be hundreds of bilingual teachers who have to do the exact same thing!”. That’s when she created a website for sharing and accessing bilingual teaching resources. Rebranded as the Bilingual Marketplace in 2017, Juliana’s platform blossomed into a thriving community of bilingual educators.
A website community was one thing, but Juliana wanted to actually meet, socialise, and connect with her community members. In 2019, she launched her first ever Bilingual Marketplace (in person) event. With a meet-up of 100 attendees, it was a great success. Juliana recalls getting email after email asking when the next event would be. And then...in comes 2020, throwing the prospect of an in-person event anytime soon out of the window.
But that wasn’t going to stop Juliana. She was just getting started.
Launching a Virtual Event with HeySummit
Despite leading a highly engaged online community, 2020 was Juliana’s first foray into virtual event marketing.
Initially, Juliana believed that a virtual event would be easier than an in-person event.
Then she began thinking about the technicalities: How do customers log in to sessions? How was she going to host them? What video format was she going to use? Making a list of every factor she needed to consider didn’t really help things either: she felt more overwhelmed than reassured by her growing ‘to do’ list.
Launching a virtual event within an already busy schedule with no previous experience in coding or virtual event marketing initially seemed like an impossible task. Juliana was almost at the point of quitting, until her husband, John, found HeySummit.
HeySummit was the platform to deal with all those technicalities Juliana had been worrying about. One of Juliana’s favourite features is a simple but effective one: her progress bar. It saved her tons of time going back and forth to double check every little detail. Whenever she thought, “Wait, did I do this?”, all it took was a quick glance at her progress bar to see if she had. Like with any big task, breaking everything down into manageable chunks proved super helpful.
Now armed with the freedom and time to focus on the important (and, let’s face it, more fun) stuff, Juliana recruited speakers for 25 learning sessions for her Bilingual Teacher virtual Conference. Topics included Teacher Tips and Classroom Hacks, Guided Math, and Translanguaging in the Classroom.
Juliana’s first virtual conference rapidly sold tickets from day one, ultimately attracting 1000 attendees. And she didn’t stop there.
Since 2020, Juliana has launched 4 virtual conferences with HeySummit. Talk about getting into the swing of it!
“HeySummit has allowed me to reach so many more people within my niche. I’m always doing something new.”
It’s safe to say that virtual events are now integral to the Bilingual Marketplace community.
What About Those In-Person Events?
Now that in-person events are (somewhere) on the horizon, does Juliana still see virtual event marketing in her business strategy?
Whilst she misses the in-person event experience, Juliana can’t imagine giving up the power of virtual events.
“There’s no way you could have 1000 people at an in-person event with only one person managing it. I did that with my first virtual conference.”
Once it’s possible to host in-person events, Juliana is planning to go for a hybrid event marketing model; in-person events for small meet-ups, and virtual events for those large conferences.
What Advice Does Juliana Have for People Launching Their First Virtual Event?
Just Go For It!
“As a teacher, I tell my students to just try it!”
Juliana wholeheartedly brings this mentality into virtual events. She found that “playing around with the platform” really helped her to get to grips with all HeySummit’s cool features before she got started.
If You Have a Following - Use It.
If you have a following on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram - don’t keep them in the dark. They’ll want to know about your awesome event.
Juliana really honed in on Instagram as her platform of choice for community engagement in her July 2021 five-day Bilingual Teacher virtual conference. Every day before the conference began, she made the most of Instagram Live, creating a highlight reel of speaker and attendee stories in the process. This not only gave attendees the opportunity to meet and connect with speakers before the event went live, it built a ton of hype.
If you and your speakers have a following on Instagram, connect with them! When you have a clear ask, event speakers will bring their communities right to your doorstep.
Remember the Aftercare
In all the hype of launching your first virtual event, it can be easy to forget about the aftercare.
As Juliana points out, you don’t want to lose touch with your community once your event ends. They need nurturing. Make sure to continue post event communication, send out surveys, and round up your giveaways. Not only will this nurture and build trust in your brand, it will keep people connected for your next event.
Have a Document of Automated Responses
Having a document of automated responses to frequently asked questions such as, “How do I log in?” or “Where do I buy tickets” was a fantastic time saver in the lead up to Juliana’s virtual events.
What’s Next for Juliana?
Juliana says that the response to her virtual conferences has been absolutely amazing.
“We knew there was a need, but we didn’t know how much fulfilling that need meant to attendees.”
Juliana not only created a space for bilingual teachers to share their resources, she built an entire community.
Speaking to Juliana a few days after her last virtual conference in July 2021, she was still on what she describes as a “Conference High” - she’s already thinking about her next virtual event! This one? A conference for bilingual parents. We’re talking about recruiting speech pathologists as speakers, hosting advice sessions on raising bilingual children, and...well, you’re gonna have to watch this space!
If you’re interested in anything language learning based or keen to check out Juliana’s community building tactics, visit https://www.bilingualmarketplace.com/ or follow Bilingual Marketplace on Instagram: @bilingual_marketplace.
Inspired by Juliana’s story? Why not try out virtual events marketing for yourself? HeySummit streamlines your event marketing strategy so that you can build, nurture, and engage your community like never before. Try out HeySummits’s 14 day trial for free today.