Three Ways Communications Can Adapt With Virtual Events
Corporate conferences and events have been a major driver for business growth and acquisition for years. In 2018, the global events industry was valued at $1,100 billion, and it was expected to grow by a 10.3% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
Attendees were often drawn to events that invited networking and imparted memorable experiences. But as Covid-19 guidelines began to impact work and personal engagements, the appetite for virtual, immersive and interactive events became increasingly important. As more businesses now turn to virtual events to drive engagement with their communities, the role of communication needs to also transform to bring value to each attendee.
Competing for attendee attention at conferences has never been easy, and in virtual settings, it is even more of a challenge. Added to that are the multiple platforms and channels used by the event organizers and the attendee. So how can communication professionals tailor attendee experiences? Here are a few ways that can help spark the creative communication required for successful experiences.
Perception Of Attendees’ Place At Events
While in-person events allow event organizers the flexibility and space to design an atmosphere that can enhance what attendees experience, virtual experiences are often limited to the event application platform. But whether an event is in person or virtual, how attendees perceive their place there can influence where and how they spend their time.
To help close the perception gap for attendees, communication professionals have the opportunity to target their communication by specific groups, interests and activities. For example, apart from the promotion of the general conference, tailoring your communication plans to specific smaller audience segments, such as invite-only virtual group gatherings with CEOs, can be a high-touch experience. Tailoring the discussion around CEO topics and coupling them with fun, interactive experiences like wine tasting can help draw other like-minded attendees who also see the value of their time at the event.
The unexpected is sure to happen at events. By including in-the-moment communication as part of the event strategy, the community of attendees has a greater chance to engage by staying in the know. Communication professionals can further curate in-the-moment event experiences by hosting pop-up interview segments with attendees and speakers across social channels.
Bringing this idea to life may start with selecting an important topic that attendees may be interested in. For example, last year, 65% of North American event creators said they believed that diversity was an important focus. Communication professionals can tap into the diversity trend by hosting pop-up interviews around this topic with a “behind-the-scenes” look with speakers before their presentation. This offers the community of attendees an opportunity to engage on the social channels and draw attention to the presentation with a common theme they can relate to and find value in. Leveraging social platforms like Twitter to host these interviews can further encourage in-the-moment communication with the community.
Thought Leaders As Conference Curators
Historically, the communication program at events has primarily been about general promotion and logistics, helping attendees get to the next activity or presentation. The larger the event size, the more logistical communication is required. But with virtual events, communication professionals have an opportunity to be more impactful by scoping their role beyond tried-and-true strategies.
One way to encourage attendees to experience the conference beyond the traditional emails and Slack channels is by identifying the micro-community segments within your attendees, then partnering with thought leaders who share common interests with those communities to serve as conference experience curators. Having industry thought leaders help guide a micro-community of attendees can create a more intimate and valued virtual experience — one that aligns interest and may even prompt more engagement.
When done well, virtual events that are immersive experiences are unique and imaginative. Communication professionals have had to deliver on traditional plans, which include press releases and blogs to promote the event. But, as virtual or hybrid events become more mainstream, communication professionals have the opportunity to redesign their role and program to become a closer collaborator to event organizers and marketing overall.