Running A Virtual Hackathon? Here Are 5 Dos and Don’ts You Should Keep in Mind
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Running A Virtual Hackathon? Here Are 5 Dos and Don’ts You Should Keep in Mind

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Hackathons sound scary, not because they’re something insidious, but rather because they sound like a pain to run. Doing creative virtual events like online hackathons is a fantastic way to improve your skills. It’s a great time to create connections, make new friends, and see the best of the best hackers around.

If it’s your first-ever virtual hackathon, it’s cool to feel a little bit nervous. If you’re looking to get the best out of your resources, here are 5 do’s and don’ts you need to keep in mind when running a virtual hackathon. This handy list should give you a good idea of how to give you and your participants the time of your lives.

#1: Do Build A Dedicated Website

When preparing for hackathons, the best first start you can do is to build a dedicated website. Your first hackathon should have a website with clear, engaging content that looks convincing and more legit. It should contain some crucial elements to make it work.

Among the vital elements you need is a Hackathon registration form to capture contact details for the current and even future events. There are also areas important to these events, which include eligibility information, requirements, timelines, and criteria. You would also want to show off the prizes and merch that participants can get.

Create a website that has a unique design with strong appeal and call to action. You want them to click on that website, stay there, and see the value proposition of the hackathon you’re proposing.

#2: Don’t Forget To Overcommunicate

Communication is a must when it comes to organizing virtual events. It doesn’t only build a great cornerstone for a successful hackathon, it also prevents your reputation from going down. In the past, there have been many hackathon attempts that imploded because the organizers did not communicate enough.

Maintain solid communication with everyone from start to finish. Overcommunicate if you have to, but not to the point that you’re miscommunicating your goals to the participants. Talk about your goals and make sure that all parties get the same message to prevent a potential disadvantage for anyone.

A great way to make sure you don’t have to handle all manners of communication is to assign points of contact for each section of the hackathon. Regularly check in and gather information with POCs to make sure that the event is running as smoothly as possible. When something goes awry, have your people report the issue so you can resolve it.

Communicate important details like intellectual property and draft the terms and conditions with all stakeholders. Most hackathons usually don’t ask ownership for the outcomes, so it’s vital to clarify this with everyone. Keep expectations in check to prevent any issues later in the hackathon.

#3: Do Perform Outreach Campaigns

Outreach is an important part of any virtual hackathon. If you have a client looking to have 60 to 70 teams from all over the world and you have a general idea and budget. Set up your outreach campaign and consider what kind of budget you have so you can find the best of the best.

Find out who you want to be joining the event. Target those with a good reach and influence so you can get a solid hackathon with fantastic coverage. If it’s your first online hackathon, consider reaching out to both newbies and influencers alike.

Pick the right platforms where you can find the most fitting participants for your event. Social media platforms like Facebook, Reddit, Youtube, and LinkedIn. Build your outreach campaigns through paid advertising. Once you build a decent database, move towards marketing through groups and pages.

Generating hackathon registrants can take a while, especially if you’re new to the business. If you’re unsure how to do all of these, find a team that can help you set up a successful virtual hackathon. Consider the budget and the potential for a lower cost per lead.

#4: Don’t Ignore The Developer Community

Much like its original purpose, virtual hackathons should make the most out of developer communities. If you want to make the best out of the event and get the best results, codes, and ideas, you want high participation rates. YOu can do so by marketing the event more towards active developer communities.

Devs are almost always online. The nature of the event means you’ll be meeting people who know the value of a hackathon and are more likely to join in. If you’re looking for participants that know what they’re doing, talk to your team and have them look towards active communities.

Actively share your content on social media and forums. Connect with the community through posts and content that respects the intellectual capacity of these communities. You want to make your hackathon feel awesome and relatable, so convincing this crowd can take a bit of time but it should be worth it.

If you are part of a large developer community, leverage its power for your virtual hackathon. The more people join within the community, the more productive your hackathon results become.

#5: Do Keep In Touch After The Event

Here’s a detail that a good chunk of virtual hackathon organizers tends to forget: keeping in touch. After an online hackathon happens, don’t forget to keep in touch with the participants. Make sure to follow through with winning ideas and build upon these results right after.

Most virtual hackathon participants are highly motivated individuals, so you would want to keep in touch to help with innovations down the line. If they’re external participants, you might even want to recruit them as teams or partners.

Keeping in touch with your new connections, at the very least, keeps your network alive and kicking. Continue sending them emails and newsletters, as well as inviting them for subsequent events in the future. By creating a community around your virtual hackathon, you will never run out of potential participants.

The Bottom Line

Running a virtual hackathon is a beautiful event but it’s also equally stressful. It takes time, resources, and a lot of logistics to get something nice started. Your event does not have to be perfect. Then again, you want your execution to have as little problem as possible.

Things that can go wrong will go wrong. With enough preparation and a trustworthy hackathon team, you should be able to get as close to perfection as possible.

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