Attracting and Engaging Attendees to Hybrid Events
There are over 700 million virtual meetings a day. Your audience is tired––sick and tired of living their work life through a screen. Getting excited about another virtual or hybrid company event experience is a tall order for event planners and audiences alike.
When the pandemic started, in person events were put on hold, and event professionals focused on delivering the same rich experience in a hybrid conference or interactive experience. Experienced designers and event production team members began reengineering in-person sales conferences, user groups, product launches, and other corporate events into virtual components. Attendees still wanted to hear from keynote speakers, mingle with customers, and hear from companies. But, they also needed a clean and safe place and even more flexibility to participate. In the beginning, we saw large attendance numbers and high engagement metrics as production teams created an engaging experience using the newest event platform and offered even more flexibility for attendees.
Now, eighteen months later, it’s much harder to capture the imagination of an online audience than it was. But restrictions on venue space and even the large company site or stage have continued. In person events are still a major concern. It’s time to rethink virtual and hybrid corporate events. Here’s how:
Rethink What “Event” Means
Corporate events have always been just that: events. Something that happens at an appointed time, on an appointed date, and that people attend in person. For events to have the same ability to immerse audiences, influence people and build brands, marketers and experience designers must rethink the anatomy of an event to reach a larger audience and to create an immersive experience.
Hybrid Event Production Spans Time and Space
The value of a keynote or a conference presentation or a news conference is to reach and influence the virtual audience as much as the in person audience. A good virtual event platform allows us to engage attendees on their schedule. The goal of each session must be audience views and engagement, over a period of time. Keynotes and sessions must be effective whenever they’re consumed, through any device the attendee chooses and in any location that the attendee may be.
With the ultimate flexibility of on-demand viewing built into the platform, companies are discovering that they can increase total attendee numbers by factors of 3x-10x. That’s a win-win. As a company reaches more people who receive information, brand loyalty grows.
Pre-Event Promotion Matters Like Never Before
With competition for every moment of screen time, a hybrid event production company must begin to market events earlier, more broadly, and more creatively than ever. We suggest using channels like online placements, organic and paid social marketing, PR, direct and email campaigns that showcase each virtual component. Put celebrity sponsors center stage to deliver messages and invite your virtual audience to tune in. Awards and contests that are only available to “live” streaming of the event may entice users to tune in to a live-streamed event rather than wait for the replay.
Certifications or awards for people that complete a required number of sessions can help some companies entice clients to participate as well.
There are three things to remember to attract an audience: Early, Often, Omni-present. Market the event early. Market it often. Make sure your content is present at every turn through remarketing and multi-channel delivery.
Raise the Bar on Production Quality
Keynotes and conference sessions are now on-demand performances. Sessions and content must immerse and engage users because there’s interesting content just a click away. Creative content that rewards attendees with virtual knowledge and rewards participation will attract and engage audiences.
Highest Quality Event Content for All Platforms
Using a professional presentation studio, video, audio, multi-media, and interactive content can be at the highest production quality. This allows it to be executed flawlessly during the live or hybrid event. Making content compelling virtually, on a big screen, or on an event app. Each and every moment of the production must have a purpose to capture and keep the attention of attendees.
Sessions should be high-impact, visual and audio must be engaging and unique so that attendees wish to stay and watch. Each event session must be produced in a way that information is delivered quickly, and that enables audiences to “tune in” to the live performance as well as watch the reply on demand.
Advertise and Deliver Bite-Sized Event Content
Events with carefully planned, shorter event sessions are easier for people to consume. A live event with a captive audience can get away with 90-minute keynote and opening sessions. A virtual or hybrid event requires keynotes and sessions to be easily consumable much quicker. A good guideline is 30 minutes for a detailed keynote. As little as 5 minutes for a product demonstration, and panel sessions that last no longer than 15 minutes. Each minute must deliver value to keep hybrid event audiences watching.
Compelling session summaries and descriptions must entice virtual attendees to click through and watch. Detailed analytics are available in most virtual event platforms, and can be used to hone session descriptions to optimize hybrid event reach.
Bring The Real World In To It
During the past year, we’ve seen highly creative ideas pay off for conference planners and their clients in terms of event attendee numbers and engagement. Virtual lunch and learns can be coordinated with delivery services like Google Eats or Door Dash. Downloadable tools such as quiz games, live chat, virtual contests and challenges, and even video interaction increased audience engagement scores by as much as 300%.
Personal invitations from connections or influencers can help to drive anticipation and bring real-world relationships into the virtual event mix.
Plan for a Plan B: Virtual or Hybrid
In a world that is ever-changing, many of our clients are parallel planning, meaning that they’re planning a live event, with all the infrastructure and strategy of a virtual event underpinning it. A result is often a hybrid event. While upfront planning is more time-consuming and costly, the benefits outweigh any downside of this approach. Hybrid event production services are as complex as events that use on site technology to reach in person attendees.
Companies that embrace virtual in conjunction with live event planning will have a seamless fallback plan in case they’re forced to go 100% virtual. Planning for virtual also means that event planners have content ready for a long-tail in marketing. Events can gather more interest as sessions are advertised and available on-demand, over time.
For organizations that prefer in-person, real-life events, it makes sense to plan portions of the event in-person, and portions virtual. For example, morning keynotes followed by a coffee bar and pre-arranged meetings may be a good way to build an in person component while still respecting social distancing guidelines during the event.
In-Person, Hybrid, Virtual Events for Your Virtual Audience
The bottom line is that there are many options for successful event planning and production whether events are live in-person, 100% virtual, or a hybrid event production model. The key is having a complete plan, built with contingencies in place, and a carefully planned and executed agenda that results in content that is easily reused and consumed on-demand, online or post event. Selecting an experience hybrid event production company will help you reach virtual audiences with a cohesive experience. The right partner will help you create the right solution and ensure success through the process.
The future of company events is changing. Hybrid event production is here to stay. We hope that before your next event, you learn more about the Trademark commitment to outstanding hybrid event planning and production. We know hybrid events. We know virtual attendees. We know how to engage virtual audiences. We have vast experience, no matter whether its an in person, virtual or hybrid conference.