COVID-19 Tests Virtual Event Attendance
Beware the ides of March — especially if glitzy corporate conferences are a core part of your Spring sales strategy.
This is a tall order, and one that will require a fairly significant overhaul to both the creative approach and the strategic objectives of event programming. So, how does content and programming change with a virtual conference, and what do you need?
From Facebook’s F8, to Google Cloud Next, Shopify Unite and Adobe Summit, we’ve seen tech’s biggest players cancel the attendance component of their largest events around fears over the highly contagious coronavirus COVID-19. In this way they’re no longer really events at all, but rather highly-produced streaming affairs that seek to capture the same energy and impact of the physical experience.
- The keynote stage becomes less important — that great on-stage keynote performance or customer conversation doesn’t work as well when everyone’s tuning in via phone, tablet or laptop. At the very least, that means changing the look and feel of those moments, but really it requires finding new ways to engage your audience. In a virtual world, rich, emotional, human-centered visual storytelling becomes far more critical.
- Virtual attendees roam free — a virtual event means attendees will expect to experience your conference on their own terms, and at a time and place of their choosing. Piquing their interest becomes even more important. Think of your customers the way Hollywood thinks of its audiences, and promise them a great story. Then, pay that promise off early on in every session and tie those stories to the product information customers really need.
- Content can be tied to action — in an advantageous twist to taking this whole affair online, brand content can be more closely tied to specific customer action. As with a traditional digital content strategy, brands can more easily assess, track and guide potential customers than they might otherwise be able to via physical attendance. In this way, virtual attendance achieves something physical events have traditionally struggled with — measurability of impact.
- Great content keeps delivering for you long after the conference is over — skilled creative partners help you ensure that all the media you produce for a conference continues to have an impact long after the event is over. Inspiring customer films will become must-have sales tools. A powerful product launch film becomes the cornerstone of your website. And new types of advertising can be built around disparate content that was originally meant to stand alone. If you invest in great visual storytelling, those stories will keep working for you longer after the conference is over.
We’re all hoping COVID-19 is just a passing scare, and that it doesn’t fundamentally change how business is done. And yet, regardless of what happens this Spring, the way people work and travel is evolving quickly, and we may well have already reached “peak conference” — which means it’s time to think seriously about alternatives to the sprawling, in-person business conclaves that have grown so important to the technology world.
The role of smart content, and smart content strategy will be central to that.
Published By Alex Yenni