Let’s face it, by now we are all heavily over-Zoomed. Running a virtual event or conference in this environment can be challenging. The last thing you want is to run the very real risk of boring your audience.
Going digital doesn’t have to be a compromise. In fact, there are a tonne of benefits to virtual events that can be exploited to great effect - if you know how.
What we’ve learned over the past 4 or 5 months is that virtual events work best when they are digital native. This means rather than mimicking what might have been, events can exploit the format and opportunities available by rebuilding and restructuring their programmes around the current needs of their audience.
Launceston Freelance Festival
Based in Tasmania, The Launceston Freelance Festival is an annual event bringing together freelancers and entrepreneurs to discuss and learn business skills and strategies for making a living in the tough world of freelancing.
Forced to pivot online, the theme of the festival this year was ‘the future of work’ and leaned heavily into the present moment to offer relevant information to customers.
Ticket options included a bottle of wine from the local Delemere Vineyards and invited ticketholders to a virtual networking session with information about the wines.
The festival exploited the greatly reduced costs of hosting a physical event by offering tickets at a much lower rate than what they would normally cost.
Often an issue at larger conferences, digital event attendees no longer face time table clashes and can view the content at their own leisure. This is great for promoters too who can repurpose the content. The festival has opened an ongoing revenue stream by offering people the opportunity to view all the talks for a fee.
Next Wave Talent
Next Wave Talent was intended as a series of live events held in Sydney and Melbourne by talent events company Recruitment Events Co who specialise in networking events for talent acquisition and HR.
This is a great example of a company built entirely around physical interaction and engagement having to pivot to online and attempt to provide similar benefit. Next Wave Talent was held in July featuring 2 and a half hours of talent-acquisition-focused content over four days.
The company shifted from a Sydney and Melbourne audience to an Australia-wide one proving that virtual events can be much more accessible. Not bound by physical capacity, your audience can be drawn from around the globe, making it potentially much larger. Next Wave Talent capitalised on this by running the conference at two different time schedules to allow for those in different time zones to watch at a time that was convenient.
They also made sure their content was relevant to their audience by polling their community to assess current concerns around talent acquisition in the pandemic. From this information, they were able to put together an event that best served the current needs of their community.
Swinburne University of Technology in Western Sydney is planning to host its open day on the 12th of August. Given the pandemic, they have not only taken the event digitally, but they’ve moved the whole campus online too by creating an immersive virtual open day called ‘Swintopia’.
Guests can virtually tour the campus using digital avatars from the comfort of their own home. The game features interactive tours of campuses and buildings, interactions with virtual lecturers and famous alumni, and side-games with missions and talking pigeons.
It draws on the huge surge in the popularity of games like Animal Crossing during lockdown and works perfectly to hone Swinburne’s brand as a leader in digital technology.
People may be disappointed by a planned event not going ahead. However from the examples shown in this article we can see that there are new and engaging ways to provide impactful brand experiences with your audiences.
We know that content must be hyper-relevant to the present and experiences benefit from being digital-native. Exploit the digital format by making the isolation experience part of the event. Bring your audience together by getting them involved in ways otherwise difficult or reimagine an offline event.
While different context to our face to face formats, consider your touch points. How can we create something that engages the senses in an online world? Creativity will be the ultimate driver for alternative solutions amidst change.