For those new to the NFT space one of the first things you’ll realize after you google “What the hell is an NFT” is how much of the conversation and information isn’t being shared on traditional blog posts or mainstream social media channels. I’ll explain where and why that is below, but before we get there let’s level set on NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
NFTs are the newest and hottest technology in the blockchain market. After Facebook banned cryptocurrency advertising, Twitter became a new home for crypto marketing. And with its recent addition of NFT support, and NFT brands and projects leveraging Twitter Spaces (social audio) it’s only going to get bigger.
The gaming industry has been using non-fungible tokens (NFTs) since 2011 when Cryptokitties was released and became one of the most popular games of 2018. But, now we’re seeing them pop up everywhere, from artworks to collectibles to sports to music and of course those silly new animal profile photos.
What is an NFT? I feel one37pm.com created the best guide to NFTs “WTF are NFTS?” and explain them as
“NFTS ARE A TYPE OF TOKEN THAT ARE GOING TO COMPLETELY REVOLUTIONIZE ENTIRE INDUSTRIES BY CHANGING THE WAY WE SHARE AND CONSUME PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING.”
One of the most significant benefits of NFTs is that they can exist across different blockchains, which allow for more scalability and flexibility in terms of where your digital asset will live.
With all that being said, I believe NFTs at the moment have yet scratched the surface of what’s possible but we can’t get there till we first open people’s minds to the true power of the blockchain. Currently, NFTs are essentially being leveraged as one of two things, profile photos (PFPs) or digital signaling letting people know the community you are a part of.
The tricky part is how do you know which NFT projects are worth investing in or how to get on a whitelist or the trends regarding the floor, and who is involved in each of these projects. Yes, this is the tricky part, but I also believe this is the fun part where listening, engaging, and doing your research can pay off in some fantastic ways.
Thankfully, the opportunity to learn and engage in the NFT community itself has migrated primarily to two places: Discord and Twitter. One of these mentioned platforms I’ve loved since 2010 and use daily while the other I hated for a while but am learning to manage and leverage. (Twitter vs. Discord)
If you want to go deeper with NFTs I’ve created this Flipboard Magazine with 170+ blog posts I’ve found valuable on NFTs, crypto and the creator economy:
What is NFT Twitter and How can you leverage it?
NFT Twitter is a new community that caters to NFT fans on Twitter, and it’s been gaining massive steam, by leveraging all of the great features of Twitter. The NFT community creates conversations amongst a variety of hashtags and within daily live Twitter Spaces. Some of the hashtags being used within Twitter to organize conversations and create this community include #NFTcommunity #NFTdrop #NFTs #NFTart #NFTgiveaway #NFTcollector, and many more…
As someone active on Twitter since 2010 and was verified back in 2015, the #NFTcommunity on Twitter has been one of the most exciting things to hit Twitter in years.
“THE MAGIC OF TWITTER ISN’T IN THE FACT YOU CAN SHARE IN REAL-TIME AS ANYONE CAN DO THAT. THE MAGIC IS POSTING IN REAL-TIME, AT THE RIGHT TIME WITH THE RIGHT CONTEXT.”
For many having to learn about NFTs is just as overwhelming as having to use Twitter as I know many friends who tried Twitter for a while but gave up years ago. If that’s you then I’ve got some exciting new for you.
It’s not the same Twitter you remember of the past.
The algorithm is much better, and they have twitter spaces and allow 270 characters instead of the 140 characters of the past but the true magic still lives within our ability to have conversations and listen in real-time. I believe there is no better social network for real-time news and finding those you don’t know, aren’t connected with but share a common purpose, passion, or community of focus than Twitter. I describe Twitter as an
“UNFILTERED FIREHOSE OF REAL-TIME 1 TO 1 CONVERSATION HAPPENING IN PUBLIC THAT ANYONE CAN JOIN IN ON AND SHARE”
To simplify the learning curve for embracing Twitter I decided to break down the different aspects of Twitter and how to best use each for NFT toolbox.
Power of the#PoundSign
Hashtags are the glue to discover the people, conversations, and active communities on Twitter. Testing out different hashtags will help get your content in the discovery and feed of others who share your views but aren’t following you.
Follow more people than you feel you need to…. then follow a couple more after that.
I firmly believe most people struggle to stay active on Twitter because they aren’t following enough people. The algorithm will make sure you see those most critical tweets. Still, you have to first feed it with as many people, brands, and conversations as you can. Follow more people than you feel you need to…. then follow a couple more after that.
Twitter Lists: Can’t Live Without Them
I have more than 100 Twitter lists that I’ve been curating since 2010. If you’ve never heard of Twitter lists, that’s ok because creating them and managing them has never been easy, but I wouldn’t use Twitter the way I do today without lists. You can use private, and public Twitter lists to organize people under topics which is terrific for managing the people you follow by NFT project, knowledge, types of tweets, and more.
The bonus is you can pin your Twitter lists and then toggle them on and off within Twitter mobile for iOS, therefore, filtering the noise of Twitter into the lists you create. Although I will say Twitter lists + Tweetdeck is where the magic really happens.
Tweetdeck: My Secret Weapon
This has been my secret weapon for 5+ years, and the fact more people don’t use it has always blown my mind. The mac app & browser versions are maintained by Twitter. Essentially they allow you to curate your dashboard into different feeds, including multiple Twitter accounts (I had 11 I managed for my personal brand at one time), by hashtag for monitoring event conversations, Twitter lists, and several other feed categories.
RT + Quote RT’s are FREE:
I can’t stress this enough that part of the power of Twitter is our ability to share, amplify and celebrate each other and tweets that we find valuable. I use the “heart aka twitter like” like a fist bump of acknowledgment. Still, I smash the RT button if the tweet was of value to me, and I believe it will be valuable to my audience. If I want to add some personal context to a tweet I found helpful, I use the “Quote RT” feature, which I believe isn’t used enough.
Tweet, Test, Engage, Tweak, Repeat
I used to preach that you must reply to every tweet, but before, I had 100k followers and realized that that scale can be near impossible. On the other hand, I believe it’s essential to let people know that you saw their tweet, so for every tweet, I’m mentioned, I hit the heart button to let them know they are heard.
I do take pride in the fact that every reply to a question, tweet, and RT I’ve done over the last 10+ years has been made solely by me and nobody else. I know that sounds crazy, but I committed to making my community interaction a PRIORITy in my business and was willing to give up other tasks to my team so I could be the voice and face of my primary Twitter accounts.
Learn to love Twitter DMS because you have to
I used to look at my Twitter DMs must like the spam folder in my Gmail. I would check it once or twice a month, but that was it. Fast forward to the last 24 months, and Twitter DMs are often where followers ask questions and want to set up next-level conference calls. I’ve also created and been a part of many Twitter dm group chats where we can share tweets and have out-of-public eye discussions without leaving Twitter. I will say the management of DM notifications, lack of search, or pinning of messages does make managing the Twitter DMS still painful. Still, I’ve found it’s worth the pain for now.
Analytics Are Important and Available
There are all kinds of tools to schedule content and report on content outside of twitter but I’ve found that twitter analytics and twitter on browser scheduling can give you most of what you need without paying for a third party tool. Analytics.twitter.com
Media and Video: Press The Damn Button
I’ve always felt video can be overwhelming with YouTube and even Facebook but the leveraging of media and video within Twitter can make all the difference. You can natively upload any video and post it under 270 seconds long in the browser or mobile device. If you want to post a longer video you must use Twitter media studio on your browser.
Remember your goal with media and videos posted along with your tweet is to create a “thumb-stopping” experience catching the users eye and hopefully adding additional context to your tweet.
Twitter is Innovating, in real-time!
Twitter spaces, communities, and share tweets to IG. One of the most impressive aspects of “new Twitter” has been their commitment to building new product features and tools in public and allowing us, the Twitter power users, to help shape the products.
Social Audio: Twitter Spaces Adds Depth
Twitter spaces have been the most outstanding example of this. The social audio feature within Twitter that came out as competition to Clubhouse, a platform I’ve built a massive community on, has been slowly adapting and growing. I’m using it daily, and I soon believe it will replace much of my Clubhouse use.
The NFT community has really dove into twitter spaces to bring social audio discussions to their Twitter followings which really allows more depth and passion to be felt and heard within the walls of Twitter.
Twitter communities are a new look at communities or just a “private-ish” twitter feed within Twitter
Twitter “communities tab and environment” are the newest feature, and although I love the potential at the moment, the couple communities I belong to are minimal. It’s challenging to strategize when something should be posted within the Twitter community walls or just to the public feed. You can read more here:
Take Tweets off of Twitter:
A feature that I’ve really loved is the updated Twitter share options. You can share a tweet of yours or someone else’s from your mobile phone directly into your Instagram story, and the format and feel of the tweets are excellent.
Tweets also happen to share very well in Discord channels so making it easy to share and integrating your tweets into your discord will drastically improve your engagement and value on Twitter.
Don’t get Rugged: Be Transparent
It’s easy to fall into the trap because someone has a lot of followers or they are verified that they are trustworthy, but I caution you that is only the case about 25% of the time. Especially with NFT Twitter emerging, many of the most prominent thought leaders in the NFT/Crypto space have low follower counts as they just joined or came back to Twitter. Hence, it’s essential to do your own research and remember that tweets are just people’s opinions. Before you decide or believe in something based on a tweet, do your research on who the person is that’s tweeting it and their agenda.
NFT leaders must learn from Twitter influencers’ mistakes.
“With great power comes great responsibility,” and over the years, we’ve seen every error imaginable when it comes to influencers promoting brands they didn’t use, not disclosing they were paid for the promotion, and in many cases tweeting without first thinking. This is a hot topic for me as I preach transparency. At the same time, I’ve also generated 6 figures worth of influencer content work each of the past 7 years. For me, when in doubt, disclose your relationship with the context of the tweet and remember every action you take on Twitter is part of the story you are telling.
Lastly, be careful for the “pump twitter algorithm” experience that I’ve noticed can be a problem. What I mean by this is people you follow all promoting one NFT project, then your entire feed is full of tweets from that project. You get this feeling as if Twitter is blowing up around this project. It must be excellent. No, NFT communities on discord have really done a great job of promoting tweets and using Twitter to celebrate active NFT project holders and those thinking about jumping into the NFT project. The downside is the Twitter algorithm will often flood your feed with these tweets, but in no way does that mean all of Twitter is seeing this same content or that project is trending on Twitter.
“NO NFT PROJECT OR SPONSORED OPPORTUNITY IS WORTH JEOPARDIZING THE TRUST AND CREDIBILITY YOU HAVE WITH YOUR FOLLOWING!”
Toggle Often Between “See latest Tweets” & “Top Tweets.”
As I’ve mentioned, Twitter is excellent for real-time breaking news content and conversations. At the same time, its algorithm IMHO is also perfect at curating the “Top tweets” for you based on the topics you follow, the people you follow, and the content you interact with. This is why you must understand when you are looking at your feed based on the latest tweets, or you are looking at the top tweets, which in many cases could be tweets from 24 hours prior that you missed.
NFT PFP verification:
Twitter announced recently that they are learning even more about Crypto and NFTs as, yes, you can tip me in Bitcoin (only happened once), but soon you’ll be able to verify your profile photo is the NFT that you own in your wallet. This type of integration via the transparency of the blockchain will drive lots of new features and added connections to Twitter over the next couple of years.
Notifications by device and turn on individual notifications:
Notification management is also a tough subject to cover when it comes to social media because we each have our own strategy on what apps or types of notifications get priority.
Within twitter they allow a lot of micromanagement of notifications which I love so I can enable notifications via DM but only if the person messaging I follow. Beyond the app notifications, I’m also a fan of using turning on notifications for certain brands and NFT projects so I can be aware of each and every tweet and be the first to hear about a roadmap announcement and such.
No matter your strategy I believe it’s important to also manage notifications across devices as I have different Twitter notifications enabled on my iPhone vs on my iPad and even more dynamic on my MacBook. In this NFT space being the first to know can be the difference between minting or not minting and in some cases be the difference in thousands of dollars.
Are you still unsure why Twitter + NFTs are a match made in heaven?
Here are some general use-cases and scenarios where NFTs + Twitter make sense:
Twitter for NFT education
Twitter for NFT Thought Leadership & Influencer discovery
Discover NFT mint & discord launches
Celebrate your favorite NFT projects
Connect with others who own the same NFTs
Show off your favorite NFT as your PFP
Market your upcoming NFT launch
Connecting your community of NFT supports to amplify and celebrate each other
Bring conversations out of discord into Twitter spaces or threaded tweets
As you can see, NFTs can use Twitter to reach early adopters and benefit from the existing NFT community on Twitter to generate awareness, discussions, education, and adoption.
Yes, it might feel shocking or overwhelming that Twitter isn’t as simple as the idea of posting in less than 140 characters, but that’s also why the NFT community has exploded on it.
At the start of this post, I mentioned that most NFT discussions are taking place on Twitter and Discord, and while this article breaking down Twitter may appear to be overwhelming, trust me that my next post about decreasing the clutter of 150+ discord servers I’m a part of is considerably more complicated than sifting through the tweeter feeds.
As those who follow me know, my mantra is PRESS THE DAMN BUTTON, and when it comes to NFTs + Twitter, there is no better time than right now to press the create account button and get active again Twitter. NFTs are the perfect intersection for this platform to excel, and NFT projects aren’t just NFTs but NFT communities.
Below is a couple of my “Public” Twitter lists that you can follow and feel for how I curate my communities.
Ps. my private Twitter lists are where the magic lives, both filtering for those NFT projects I’m tracking but also listening to the competition and those I believe are living on the bleeding edge.
Early this month I was honored to be the keynote speaker as well as moderate and industry leader panel at the Center for Exhibition Industry Research yearly event CEIR Predict. As with most events this year, it was a hybrid experience with in-person attendees and speakers live at MGM Inner Harbour and online attendees watching the live stream.
Below is a write-up from the panel that I moderated which included Joey Graziano, SVP at National Basketball Association, Melissa Ashely Advisor at AirFair and Leana Salamah, Vice President, Marketing | International Housewares Association.
Panelists from the 2021 #CEIRPredict provide key findings on how marketing and digital transformation will impact the future of B2B exhibitions.
“We are not going back to the way we ran events before the Pandemic. It is essential to rethink/reimagine what the future is going to look like.”
When speaking with panelists from the recent CEIR Predict session on marketing and digital transformation, a clearer picture of our industry’s future came into focus.
In this forward-glance, we measure our Total Available Market as the world, and we’re are no longer limited by physical boundaries because we’ve mastered personalization-and-customization-at-scale.
Joey Graziano, SVP Business Development & Global Events, National Basketball Association, also believes this profit/experience utopia need not be just a dream. It comes down to leadership, clarity of intent, and monetizing live, viral moments. The key to Graziano is,
“We need our engagement and monetization strategies to stop being mutually exclusive. The best strategy reimagines the experience for our audience AND drives the P&L.”
Joey Graziano, NBA
Melissa Ashley, Advisor, Airfair, put it this way, “Everybody shifted to using technology to navigate the marketplace. The customer has the choice of when, where, and how.”
This dynamic will not be shifting back. When given multiple choices of how you want to consume your content, why would you ever wish to have your preferences withdrawn? You wouldn’t – and our audiences won’t either.
So what now? How should our organizational leaders prepare and empower their teams for a digital future? How can they leverage an economy of creators and serve audiences who have extensive choices of where they receive their content?
The key to unlocking the value of the medium may live within the very nature of Communities.
Brian Fanzo believes that a key to unlocking value could live with relatability, “If influencer marketing is the business of trust or an extension of trust, the Creator economy monetizes and builds community across platforms.” He goes further,
“This is the most connected generation ever. It isn’t that the younger generation has no attention span; they just have no tolerance for irrelevant content.”
The opportunity is there.
Graziano believes firmly in the responsibility of leadership in plotting this future, “As leaders, it is our job to take a problem, develop simple success metrics, push them forward, and enable people to decide the ‘how.’” Empowerment drives ownership. This shift in mindset could be the difference between holding onto traditional ideas and becoming poised to capitalize real-time on moments of live engagement.
He gave a few examples:
Think about a soap opera, right? The writers know what’s going to happen next. In many events, you know the viral moments because you scripted them with your speakers and entertainment. How can you monetize that?
You have an online event with 50,000 people, and they’re all paying $99. Perhaps 20,000 of those same attendees would pay $250 for a personalized experience. How do you find that out and offer that experience?
He added an important distinction. I call it out as a distinction because there is something our industry has been hesitant to mutter. Graziano’s perspective is, “We need to shift our mindset from ‘nothing is as good as live’ to ‘live is one valuable entry point’ and use our content to reach hundreds of thousands of people globally.”
Throughout the Pandemic, we’ve all spoken the phrase, ‘Nothing will replace the power of face to face.’ We believe it, and we’re not wrong, but it could be that we’re unintentionally limiting our sphere of influence – and at the same time, eroding our teams’ confidence in other mediums.
Specific to COVID-19 and our response to it, Graziano sees it as, of course, a tragedy but also an opportunity. “COVID-19 destroyed our sense of connection. It gave us new fears and futures. And yet, it created an opportunity for us to innovate, define new audiences, remove bureaucracy and emerge stronger.”
This perspective became even more powerful when we learned that Graziano’s father is a retired NYC firefighter and 9/11 survivor. He taught Joey and his siblings that it is the sum of our responses that define us. He would ask, “If your neighbor’s house was on fire, would you run into it?”
The sum of our responses.
If anyone reading this hasn’t yet leveraged the Pandemic to innovate with your teams and prepare for our collective future, now is the time.
For an industry that has always been about its people, we can make that happen. We can look after one another’s houses – even when they aren’t on fire.
To help your teams, we’ve summarized all the findings from the Thought Leaders – Focus on Focus on Marketing & Digital Transformation for you.
The future of marketing is relatability – people want to connect and understand what is important to them. Your brands can be relatable through authenticity.
The future of business is Community. You can build Community with customers, staff, clients, etc.
Individual creators create their own communities. The creator economy monetizes and builds Community across platforms. (Platforms changed the word “attendees” to communities)
Digital enables us to do more in-person. How one uses tech will ultimately enhance the in-person experience. Repackage content and release it over time.
Most obstacles are imaginary and are really opportunities.
Organizers need to create exclusivity, scarcity, personalization and customization.
Research indicates trade shows are coming back, but you can supplement them with other content year-round.
You can do nearly anything digitally. Organizers must drive additional value and raise the bar.
Tapping into emotions:
Organizers must address the emotional reasons people go to trade shows. Foster creativity; do not control it.
Prioritize engagement and Community – look at where you are not positioned and look to outsource to organizations that do this well.
Empower creators and embrace that they think differently.
Want people to feel ‘these are my people, people I can trust.’
Brands aren’t great. The people behind the brand make it great.
Join us again next week as we continue our conversations with CEIR Predict panelists. Next Up: Focus on Industry Disruptors.
Ps. If you’re thinking, ‘Wait, wasn’t this week’s content about disruptors?’ You’re not wrong. Everything covered above is about digital and marketing disruption specifically, but as we know, disruption isn’t limited to those topics. Next week we’ll explore ways you can support your teams as they build a culture of inclusivity, navigate the future of work, and protect their employees, attendees, and customers from physical and cyber security threats.
Are you afraid of public speaking? I believe you know you aren’t alone as it’s widely known to be one of the biggest fears people have…
Do you want to be a full-time professional speaker traveling the world delivering your message?? You aren’t alone either, as the lure of the lifestyle and impact that is possible as a professional speaker is without a doubt a dream career for many.
I took my first stage in 2005 working for the Department of Defense and spoke in front of a government audience on the future of cyber security and our need to recruit and train millennial military members to educate and implement this technology.
Between 2005 and 2013, I spoke on 50+ stages, both in that role for the DoD and as a Technology Evangelist, which included keynoting at VMworld, SXSW, and Gartner. But it wasn’t until 2013 that I realized that the job of a “professional speaker” was something people did as a full-time career.
Over the next five years, I would learn the hard way how little I knew about being a professional speaker. It also was evident that the gap between the person afraid of public speaking and those who want to be a full-time speaker seemed large. Still, in reality, it came down to two things—a mindset shift and inside knowledge of the speaking, event planner, and conference industry.
This might come as a shock, but I believe it’s easier to help someone over their fear of public speaking embracing a mindset shift than it is to figure out the nuances and highly protected process to not only becoming a professional speaker but achieving long-term success as a speaker.
In the early days of my speaking career, I began to understand just how lucrative being a speaker can be and how unique each person’s path to becoming a full-time public speaker was. Public speakers take on a skill that no other industry requires, even more so now when we are constantly connected.
The beauty of being a proffesional speaker is that there is no one way to make a living as a speaker. The hard part about breaking through and finding success as a speaker is the fact there are so many paths to this career!
The public speaking industry (as an economic driver) is hard to measure with a lot of fuzzy numbers. Still, the event planning and conference industry certainly are easier to quantify. Event planners bring in anywhere from $15,000- to $50,000+ per event depending on its size and how much back-end work the event planner contracts out. And speaking at these events is a huge revenue source for public speakers.
Since man first stood before a group to spread their word and ideas, the public speaking industry has been around. But the speaker sure has changed over time…
The public speaking industry is a weird bird when you look at the revenue they can generate for clients not to mention this new world of virtual events and being able to speak from anywhere. Corporate conference professionals, event planners, and public speakers are all in the same industry. Still, they have their own little world inside the industry with its own set of rules and cultural norms. Many of the most successful public speakers started speaking to promote their books, agencies, or as the second career. At the same time, there have also been many successful speakers who’ve built great businesses in just public speaking in recent years.
For those seeking out becoming a public speaker as a full-time profession as I’ve done, here are five things I wish I knew as I started my journey and aspects of my speaker business that I’m still focusing on improving today.
Being great on stage isn’t enough: The idea of being the greatest presenter or performer on stage isn’t enough to sustain in this business as the business of speaking requires so many other aspects including your ability to sell yourself, ability to understand your audience and even position your program that others believe its worth paying you to speak.
There are multiple ways of making money as a speaker: Knowing what you’re best at and focusing on the method that’s best for you must be the priority. You can’t get distracted by your peers building their speaking business a different way.
You can’t do it all on your own: For many, this means working with a speaker bureau or signing with a speaker agent. It’s also essential to surround yourself with people who know the other aspects of this business that you don’t like travel, planning, video editing or online marketing. See post on best speaker websites.
Speakers get Speakers Gigs: As much focus that’s put on creating a sizzle reel, building a website or designing the perfect keynote program. All of those things combined will get you less gigs than the relationships you build with fellow speakers that are asked on a weekly basis to recommend speakers for gigs they’ve done in the past.
Adapting, Re-Invent, Pivoting is Part of the Speaker Life: The ability to roll with the punches isn’t a skill set that emerged thanks to covid forcing things to virtual. It’s actually within every aspect of the speaker life from travel issues to technical problems on stage to the audience to being able to continue your talk during the lunch session as the audience is eating and making noise.
If you want to hear more examples and details and how I coach other speakers to leverage some of these things I’ve learned check out SPEAKER MISFIT MAFIA BOOTCAMP which is a 10 week Bootcamp that I run only once a year.
I’ve been all-in on the social-audio app Clubhouse since December 9th and it’s driven more leads for my speaking business than any other content marketing strategies I’ve used over the last 5 years. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Grant Baldwin the host of the Speaker Lab podcast to share my tips and tactics for growing my speaking business without pitching or even promoting my services. Give this episode a listen and then connect with my @isocialfanz on Clubhouse and let me know your thoughts.
Using Clubhouse for Your Speaking Career with Brian Fanzo
Have you heard of using Clubhouse for your speaking career? The clubhouse is the hottest app right now and it’s by invitation-only.
Friend of the show, Brian Fanzo, is joining us on today’s The Speaker Lab. He’s here to talk about what it is, how to use it for booking gigs and how it has helped his mental health during the pandemic.
Hear us dive into those Clubhouse-related topics and so much more on episode 331 of The Speaker Lab.
THE FINER DETAILS OF THIS SHOW:
In this conversation he answers all of these questions for me…
What is his top tip for using Clubhouse as a speaker?
How is this app like a pop-up mastermind?
Why asking great questions on Clubhouse is the way to stand out.
Is it better to host or participate?
How this app has helped his mental health through this pandemic.
How can you find your groups on this app and insert yourself in their conversations?
Should you have a call to action?
And so much more!
Going back to that opening sentence of this email, neither group is better than the other, by the way. Some of us naturally gravitate to experimenting with new technology and some of us would rather stick with the tried and true.
There’s no right answer for ALL of us, but what’s right for YOU?
For hybrid events and meetings to create unique and valuable experiences, they must focus on three things: shrinking the distance, building a 365 always-on community, and a mindset shift from a 2D world to a 360° one.
Hybrid seems to be trendy at the moment because, for many, the uncertain future of offline events and the ever-changing world of virtual everything is overwhelming; focusing on hybrid allows for overarching statements such as “the best of both worlds.”
The mistake most are making when they get excited about the hybrid future is to connect the worlds that existed before the shutdown—linking in-room offline attendees with the virtual audiences and the belief that content and the speakers can bring both worlds together, interacting as a group.
But let’s keep it real.
Zoom fatigue, boring webinars, and underwhelming pre-recorded virtual events is what we’ve been living with for the last nine months. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise as we’ve undervalued the virtual experience for the previous ten years, and we believed we could repurpose what we did offline. It would be magical and unique online.
The hard truth is that the event and meeting world will never go back to the way of the old.
The attendees of the future have witnessed the good, bad, and ugly of a virtual experience, while many are discovering how to supplement what they thought was only available offline conferences and meetings.
Disconnect and false hope migrating online
As I learned in my days in cybersecurity, then in cloud computing, and most recently with social mediamarketing, there’s a massive disconnect and false hope that happens when migrating online.
This disconnect starts with the notion that “more is better” as we can reach more people and gather more data, leading to more experiences and, ultimately, more revenue.
The false hope begins with the idea of going online means it cheaper, and we get more thanks to reduced travel, less overhead, and minimization of risk.
This might sound like doom and gloom, but the good news is that we can learn from those past offline to online experiences while also managing our expectations.
Remembering this pandemic has forced a change to virtual and is unlike anything we could have ever prepared for, and the future will be unlike anything we’ve experienced before.
So, where do we start?
First, we must re-invent, not repurpose, every aspect of both virtual and in-person experiences.
Second, we must move from believing this is a pivot to embracing that this is a time of creative innovation where we will shape the future.
Lastly, we must focus less on the technology and limitations involved in creating a hybrid approach and more on what problems we can solve and new solutions we can make with a 360° experience.
1. Shrinking the distance: re-invent vs repurpose
As with cloud computing and digital marketing, the idea of more possibilities, thanks to online, will inadvertently lead to making decisions that make our interactions feel less human, increase the difficulty in building trust with our new audience, and ultimately weaken our connection with the existing audience we’ve worked so hard make.
Although many of these trends have already begun in 2020, I believe shrinking the distance must be our focus and top priority.
To do so, we must redesign our hybrid strategy to create a centralized mobile-first hub that the hybrid attendee experience, connecting the online virtual world to the offline in-person experience.
That centralized home will exist within a mobile-first experience that will shrink the distance created both virtually and in-person.
This will give the online audience the ability to bring what they do online to offline experiences while also enhancing virtual events, allowing for more robust notifications, chat, and content management.
The mobile-first hub will also shrink the distance created with offline events, which often feels disconnected from online, besides maybe an event hashtag on Twitter. The mobile hub will empower offline events to develop more in-depth data drive strategies such as session prerequisites and community meetups.
2. Building a 365 always-on community: virtual is here to stay
For the past ten years, when someone mentioned the need for an event to have a community, the simple solution, or what I believe was a band-aid, was to create a Facebook group or website forum and call it a community.
It prioritized the months leading up to the event, the days of the event, and then until the event surveys were submitted. The rest of the time, it became a random dumping ground for event marketing and networking spam from attendees.
Yes, communities can and do live within Facebook groups and website forums, but for these communities to be a success and indeed be 365 always-on, they must be empowered to grow rather than build.
We must build event communities centered around the attendees’ shared passions and the common purpose that are focused on providing value and engagement 365 days of the year.
Ultimately if the community is designed to grow and has proper investment, not only will it be the key to the success of hybrid events, but it will be the glue and the lifeline that allows for future pivots and unforeseen changes that happen in the future.
3. The mindset shift from 2D to 360°: leave offline limitations offline
There are several reasons virtual events, webinars, and online meetings haven’t replaced offline events, conferences, and meetings over the past ten years. The main reasons are the lack of time and resources from all parties, from production to planning to platforms to speaker presentations.
These reasons created a very low baseline of expectations when it came to virtual events and stifled any innovation or dedicated redesign of what was possible virtually. If anything good comes out of COVID-19 it’s that it forced us to invest the time and resources in what was possible virtually.
Over the last couple of months, with each failed virtual event, we’ve been forced to look at how we can reinvent virtually and open an entirely new world of innovation.
All of this is great but is only transformational for hybrid events if we are willing to not limit that re-invention to virtual by looking at every aspect of an offline meeting and event.
This starts with asking ourselves important questions such as:
Why does this concept exist, is it needed, and if so, how can we reinvent it?
How can we leverage new technology not only to create new experiences but to simplify existing processes?
What role does educating our audience and managing expectations play in the success of our hybrid event, and how can we do that bigger and better?
What role can speakers and emcee’s play that goes beyond the stage?
Do we need projection screens, or can we leverage digital overlays and immersive stage design to go beyond PowerPoint?
I do believe hybrid events are the future in the short term and the long term.
But to avoid the mistakes of other industries, we must manage expectations, focus on redesigning over repurposing and prevent the band-aid ideas of “more is better” and the concept of “best of both worlds” from driving us to merely bridging a gap.
Together we can build a successful hybrid future by focusing on a centralized hub that’s community-focused, that’s driven to innovate and create new experiences that leverage the 360° world around us!
Brian Fanzo, Digital Futurist, iSocialFanz is just one of many talented speakers taking part in PlanetIMEX, the October Edition on 12-16 October.