Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, business as usual is anything but. Companies around the world are having to adapt on the fly in this changing market. As more and more events are being canceled or postponed, partners and customers around the world are increasingly asking, “How can we do digital events?”
Experience Design, Content Marketing, and Rethinking Live Events
“Digital events” has become the go-to remedy but that’s not always the right answer.
As we evaluate our approach to key industry moments, conferences, and client gatherings, here are three tips I have provided to clients with insights from doing digital over the last 18+ years.
1. Focus on your core objective
What is your core objective? Revisit your brief. Just because you can do a digital event doesn’t always mean you should. Not every event will translate well to a virtual one. It all comes back to the original goals of the event. If the goal of the event was to deliver new content or make announcements, a live stream or video on demand may make sense. If the goal of the event was more for relationship-building, a one-way virtual event may not serve those purposes as well. Consider alternatives. Brief 1:1 virtual interactions, check-ins or training sessions may be more applicable.
As you think about your goals, consider how that content is now being consumed. Make sure the length and format of the content feels right for your audience and meets your objectives.
2. Watch out for live-stream overload
“Let’s do a live stream,” is a phrase that’s uttered a lot lately. Live streams have rightfully earned their place as a way to scale the reach of an in-person gathering. But just because you decide to do an event digitally, doesn’t mean you should do it live.
As people work remotely, distractions are the new normal. Children, pets, loved ones… the list is endless. Creating more digestible video on demand may be an alternative worth considering, as it gives people the opportunity to watch when it’s convenient for them.
Consider if your digital event is really going to entice viewing by appointment. Are you doing a major product announcements or timely updates where everyone hearing it at once is critical? Live is the way to go.
For most others, you may find that video on demand content that delivers directly to the camera is a better fit. Take stock of what you intended to deliver at your event, and think about how you can bring it to life via other channels and formats.
3. Consider your content delivery avenues
Take stock of the content you intended to deliver at your event, and think about how you can bring it to life via other channels and formats. Don’t overlook your brand’s owned channels: your website, email marketing channels, blogs, and social handles. For instance, one of our teams is considering taking content that would have been delivered on stage and is, instead, exploring animated or text-based video production that can be scaled via our content marketing channels.
Remember, the production elements that make for a well-done event — like lighting, sound, and staging — can be difficult, or even impossible, to pull off virtually. This new world of work and interactivity calls for creativity. It also means we need to increase our capacity for empathy, love and understanding, without in person queues, face-to-face interactions and the energy of a live audience.
At their core, events are shared experiences. They remind us that we’re humans bringing our unique personalities, talents, and relationships to work with us to build businesses every day. But until we can reinstate them, I’m excited to see how we rethink them for our current times.