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The Future of Standing Out with Virtual Events

Katie Jankoski

Over the past month we’ve seen a significant shift in the event space. Large tentpole events like SXSW moved virtual, Microsoft canceled all in-person events through June 2021 and is now transitioning to digital and Cannes Lions announced that the annual Festival of Creativity will be postponed until October. As the current global situation continues to develop, changes on the events front are happening on a daily basis – and we’re on it.

We hear the questions – what are competitors doing, how should we shift our events from live to virtual and is it worth the time and investment? There’s so much to take into consideration – companies have to keep stakeholders, agency partners, press and the audience in mind as they go virtual – and it’s often a very nuanced decision.

As we monitor brand activity, converse with event organizers and chase the ongoing news cycle, we understand and have a team assessing what the best ways to shift are and what’s next for events. While the uncertainty may feel constant, it’s critical that brands ensure that they are planning for the future, finding ways to stand out amongst the clutter, and activating in innovative and interesting ways virtually. These tactics will ultimately create strong brand recognition.

8 ways to make your virtual event stand out

Think of Creative Ways to Capture Interest

  • Content should not be limited to just the virtual event, but incorporated in communications throughout the year, leading up to the event and post-event. Make sure that the content can still be viewed on-demand.
  • Consider sending a gift; include giveaways pre-event or during the event to attendees.
  • Networking is key, find innovative ways to create networking spaces virtually. The Female Quotient Equality Lounge provides an interactive format that allows participants the chance to engage in intimate conversations with community members and network with their peers.
  • As with live events and the activations that capture interest onsite, think of creative ways to do this virtually. Whether that’s bringing in a surprise guest like Sheryl Crow, which Salesforce did for their Leading Through Change series OR take tips from DJ D-Nice, who created a ‘Club Quarantine’, a virtual dance party streamed live on Instagram to engage viewers and give them something positive and fun to view.

Keep Your Thinking Future Forward

  • Don’t think of this of this as a quick fix for what is currently happening, but as a way to invest in your organization’s long term future.
  • Whether it’s an internal or external event, this is a great way to get in front of a larger audience tuning in. If done right, virtual can be a huge success.
  • The long term effects on the event industry are still uncertain, but we may see that going forward people aren’t wanting to travel or spend money on hotels, airfare etc., to attend live events. Instead they may want the option to access content from the safety of their own home… so get ahead of this and be a leader in this space.
  • Take what you learn while navigating these challenging times and determine what works best for your brand virtually to use that information in practices in the future. Whether your brand has an internal event or owns an external one, what did you learn over the past few months? What influenced your stakeholders and what captured their attention? Learn from the experience and implement the successes next year.