Engagement is quickly becoming the new word of 2021 event strategy, pushing COVID-19 out of the way. With the entire world moving to the virtual realm, companies are struggling to keep engagement high while battling fierce competition.
The main benefit of a virtual event is its ability to keep the audience interested. The main downside is the lack of in-person contact. Over the past year, businesses learned to create top-notch events that don't just match the efficiency of in-person interactions but exceed them.
Let's take a closer look at different types of virtual event engagement and how to choose the right solutions for your business.
The Changing World of Virtual Event Management
While a highly complex process, virtual event management is developing incredibly quickly. With new technologies appearing and the audience's mindset changing, digital events are taking their rightful place in marketing, networking, and education.
With the COVID-19 pandemic ending and the return of in-person events becoming a reality, the power of virtual events isn't likely to wane. The numerous benefits these interactions provide for both companies and audiences make it hard to imagine the world without them.
While in-person events will be making a comeback in the future, the demand for them isn't likely to return to the pre-COVID levels.
That's why it's imperative to focus on the available opportunities and hone your virtual event management skills to maintain high engagement levels. When looking at types of content delivery, there are three types of content delivery to considers: live, simulive, and on-demand.
Live events involve live broadcasts, interactions, Q&A sessions, and discussions. These events mimic in-person engagement more than any other digital event option.
- Capitalizing on FOMO — FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) can be a powerful driving force behind decision-making. FOMO affects people of all ages, especially those looking for strong value. A live event capitalizes on the FOMO since it offers participants a unique opportunity to interact with speakers and other parties in real-time. Even if you offer a recording of the event for those who missed it, the experience won't be exactly the same.
- Real-Time Interaction — For participants who still miss the in-person event format, real-time interaction is an excellent way to get what they want. Live sessions are much easier for creating speaker-audience engagement and connection. They encourage natural audience-to-audience networking and assist with efficient sponsor-to-audience interactions.
- Rich Variety — Live events provide an opportunity to set up as many real-time interactions as possible. They can include keynotes, celebrity engagements, networking activities, musical guests, polls, games, and much more.
- Lower Cost and Time — When it comes to live events, the time and money you spend on pre-production isn't as substantial as for on-demand or simulive events.
- Lack of Flexibility — No matter how high FOMO is, some people simply can't make time to attend live events. Missing them could make your audience feel lost especially if your content strategy depends on the customers participating in these sessions. With time, this could lead to disengagement. Pro tip: to counter this issue, many companies offer recorded versions of the event on demand.
- No Retakes — If something goes wrong during a live event, there isn't anything you can do about it. All speaker mistakes, connection problems, and host hiccups are available "as is."
Simulive (simulated + live) events are pre-recorded events that are presented to the audience at the allotted times. What makes them different from on-demand events is the audience's opportunity to interact with the speakers (experts, moderators) and ask questions after viewing the recording.
- Flexibility — You can take full advantage of many live event benefits without having to worry about making mistakes. You can polish the presentation to make sure it achieves the content goals perfectly. It's also great for packing multiple speakers into one event without stretching the time.
- FOMO — There is still some FOMO associated with simulive events since the audience needs to attend them at a certain date and time. While they may still view the recorded event (if you provide access), the participants miss the chance to ask questions and do networking activities.
- Simplicity — While similar to a live event, simulive events are easier to arrange. You don't need to get multiple speakers together at a certain time. You don't need to watch the clock, limit interactions, respond to mistakes in real-time, etc.
- Recyclability — You can use the recorded event for other purposes. The content you create can be recycled for blogs, promotional videos, social media posts, and much more. This can help you cut costs and enhance your content marketing strategy.
- Less Personalization — When a person knows that the event is pre-recorded, they are usually not as immersed in the process as they are with live events. It may be hard to keep the audience's attention long enough to get to the Q&A section.
- Extra Time and Expenses — You may need to incur extra costs for recording and editing content. Depending on how polished you want the recording to be, it may take a significant amount of time.
On-demand events are fully pre-recorded events. They are available to the audience whenever they feel comfortable viewing them.
- Personalized Content Journey — On-demand events give the audience a choice of what content they want to digest. This saves your potential customers a significant amount of time, letting them enjoy the event's flexibility.
- No Time Constraints — Your audience has an opportunity to choose its engagement pace. This is extremely important for busy decision-makers who simply don't have time to live on someone else's schedule.
- Fewer Resources — An on-demand event requires fewer internal resources than live and simulive events do. You don't need to involve speakers, moderators, and hosts to participate in the event in real-time.
The key disadvantage of an on-demand event is the lack of live interaction. That's why the content has to be extremely strong to keep the audience engaged until the end.
Choosing the Right Virtual Event Format
While engagement is the main driving force behind choices you make about virtual events, other factors are important too. When selecting the best format, you need to consider your budget, resources, capabilities, and goals.
Many companies choose to combine all three formats to maximize engagement and create content for recycling purposes.
Would you like to learn how to choose the right virtual event for your business or combine multiple formats to boost engagement? Contact us at any convenient time.