Why haven’t virtual events or online conferences replaced offline conferences? Because they can’t!
But… If we redesign the experience from a digital-first mindset, it’s possible to provide a complimentary digital experience that bridges offline conference experiences 365 days a year and can supplement the value we aren’t able to deliver during times like now with the Coronavirus.
What won’t work and hasn’t worked:
❌ Back to back webinars called digital events
These are impersonal and often time unengaging.
❌ Live video platform streaming offline keynotes
While these may be more personal, they’re still not super engaging if the speakers don’t engage with the audience comments like they would if it were any other live stream. The problem with that, is that this makes it less “conference like,” how do we find the happy medium?
❌ Speakers using the same slides, story, and presentation structure for digital talks
Virtual events are far more accessible for most, so how will we ensure that our audiences aren’t seeing the same thing over and over again? How can we create a unique experience without feeling the mood of the room?
❌ Events built with tech-first their your mindset still have to focus on format and audience experience
We can create all of the tech-first events we want, but the tech itself won’t be enough to create a great customer experience.
✅ Great creators such as YouTube stars don’t make great speakers.
Being able to speak at a live event and creating well-produced, audience-specific content require very different skillsets. Virtual summits, specifically ones that happen live, will require keynote level speakers.
✅ Just as many speakers won’t make great digital keynote speakers
Just like YouTubers don’t always make great in-person speakers, we can’t expect that many “traditional” keynote speakers will be great in a digital format.
? Sadly, just like offline, the host/emcee of digital events are key, yet seldom valued or included in strategy!
Cutting corners is not acceptable. Not even in the digital space. The host/emcee of your event is the only constant in the attendees’ experience and you’d be surprised how important that constant is. So don’t leave them out!
? Virtual Reality isn’t the answer either
However, understanding VR content, storytelling with creating 360 degrees of access, and how those interactions work is a mindset digital events must factor in.
The questions we must be asking for digital events are:
1. What experience and interaction will maintain attention with an audience that is easily distracted and has unlimited other options for content?
2. How do we connect the theme and hypothesis of the event throughout every aspect of the digital event without it being obvious?
3. What does success look like for our digital event and how does that differ from our traditional events? How do we manage those expectations for audience, sponsors and executives?
4. What is the emotional link to the content we want to create.. FOMO no recordings or JOMO exclusive access?
5. What are the measurable touchpoints that we can track for success & driveability to adapt and pivot?
6. With no venue but no doors to keep the audience in, how do we use that money from butts in seats to butts not clicking off?
We Must ReInvent
When designing a virtual event we must go beyond the platforms and even beyond the conference experience to build a truly digital-first experience! I’m working with multiple companies and associations on doing just that with what I’m calling a “Choose your own digital event experience” framework. Stay tuned for more insights and information on how we are doing this and if you want to learn more or believe your software platform would be a great fit send me an email at Brian@isocialfanz.com.
Over the last 10 days, we’ve seen massive events such as Facebook’s F8, Mobile World Congress, IBM Think, and Oracle ModernCX announce that they were canceling their global conferences in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic.
This epidemic is having a global impact and closer to home its decimating the meetings industry, and the question we have to start asking is how should planners, brand marketers, and professional speakers be thinking about the future of live events?
Now in context, this disruption is minor compared to those dealing with family members getting sick or dying thanks to this coronavirus, and our thoughts go out to them.
In this episode, I’m joined by a good friend and fellow speaker Erin King who happened to have spent a decade in live event digital marketing. We discuss the epidemic impact on our industries, but more so, the digital OPPORTUNITIES are presenting themselves for both keynote speakers and event planners.
There’s no right way or one-way to handle this forced change, and we’ve seen some events announce that they will be moving to a “global first digital event,” while others have postponed the event till 2021.
Erin and I have both spent years in this industry, both planning backstage AND performing onstage. From this unique perspective, in this episode, we share our predictions, recommendation, and ideas around:
How agile planners, marketers, and speakers can re-invent the venue and capitalize on what is actually an exciting opportunity
Why only streaming a keynote via webinar is not a good enough alternative to live
How production schedules can get more creative, immersive and interactive to deliver more compelling experiences for remote audiences
How the roles of event production teams will have to evolve with this “new normal” of experiential
How to elevate your internal budget and planning discussions from “which functionality” to “what type of format”
Why in tumultuous times, organizations need education, inspiration, and motivation more than ever, regardless of the medium used to deliver it
What we believe is the number 1 shift that must occur in the content & format of digital events to “re-invent the venue” and embrace the non-captured attention of a digital attendee.
Why & how almost EVERY digital platform & software has gotten online conferences wrong.
Why we, like speakers and event planners, must coordinate and collaborate on an audience-first approach to supplement what sponsors, attendees, and executives are now missing.
Why the future is bright, and digital opportunities are endless
Now let’s be real; there’s a reason digital events haven’t replaced offline conferences over the last 10 years as nothing will 100% replace the handshake and in-person networking experience.
But both Erin and I believe that this is going to spark a NEW approach to digital events that have been long overdue. In the past, let’s face it digital events we’re just back to back webinars labeled as “online conference” or a brand live streaming the audio of speakers online and calling that a digital summit.
There will be much more to come on this topic, and some details will be shared soon on the offerings and exact plans Erin and I have in the works to help facilitate these ideas that we discuss on the show.
In the meantime pick up Erin’s book and give her a follow on social media
Erin King is Founder of Socialite Agency, a firm specializing in digital communication for live events like The Oscars and others. After spending a decade as a live event digital marketer, she transitioned full-time onto the professional speaking circuit with the publication of her Amazon best-selling book, “Digital Persuasion.”