Amidst the challenges and constraints imposed on the events industry by COVID-19, we've been consistently impressed by the innovation and creativity of event marketing leaders. Sequence has had the good fortune to partner with Group Nine Media and POPSUGAR in the virtual event space, and Lindsay Leaf, SVP, Experiential and Marketing at Group Nine Media was kind enough to share her thoughts on the virtual events landscape and her team’s experience. Check it out!
What has the transition to virtual events been like for you, and how different is the world of virtual from in-person events?
The transition to virtual events has been an exciting challenge and one that we are proud has gone smoothly and successfully. Back in March our team immediately began ideating on how to bring virtual events to life. We conducted in depth research on platforms, legal restrictions, audience behaviors and more. We armed ourselves with a team of best-in-class professionals and equipment and treated virtual with the same detail and precision as we do IRL. A common misconception is that to produce a virtual event you can simply go live from your phone -- but to produce something of the quality that we hold ourselves to and that our clients expect from us, it must be produced like a live event. We curated a best-in-class team including technical producers, show callers, social media experts combined with our editorial, talent, marketing and comms teams who all work together to ensure ultimate success.
How does the strategy and the planning process for a virtual event differ from an in-person event?
We can typically execute virtual events, depending on scale, on a shorter timeline than in person. The marketing timeline tends to be a shorter window as well, as the online audience expects more immediacy than when you are promoting an in-person event. That said, we use similar social, email and organic tactics to reach our audience cross platform and inform them of what's to come.
What’s one unexpected benefit that you’ve seen from virtual events?
We're having the opportunity to connect with our audience on a more intimate level. Attendees are willing to step out of their comfort zone and interact through Q&A, live chat, polling features, and more which allows them to be fully engaged in the event.
What’s been your biggest challenge as it relates to virtual?
Educating partners on why a virtual event is worth the investment and how they can see ROI. Initially there was some education necessary on why a virtual event is worth investment and can deliver on ROI. I do think brands have really come around to the power of virtual now. They see that we can bring a national or even global community together for a shared experience that is impactful and inspiring during a time when people are craving this kind of connection and content the most.
Do you see virtual events as ‘here to stay', or do you believe demand will fade once in-person events restart?
We see virtual as here to stay! While we expect a full rebound of experiential once it's fully safe to do so, the expectation is that many will develop a hybrid model where virtual becomes a meaningful extension to in person events allowing brands to reach wider audiences in new and increasingly innovative ways.
Thanks to Lindsay for sharing her thoughts on virtual events, which we hope was helpful to you. You can check out more on POPSUGAR here and Group Nine Media here. If Sequence can be a resource for virtual events please don’t hesitate to sign up for a free 30 Minute Consult!