Last weekend, like so many other conference nerds and entrepreneurs, we were giddy with excitement to attend Create & Cultivate’s first Virtual Conference “Money Moves.” Having already set the bar for the live IG-celebrity, millennial-chic experiential conference going experience, expectations for their first native virtual experience were running high. Boldly, C&C didn’t hesitate to announce Money Moves more than a month before when so many other brands and organizations have been slow to adopt (and even suspicious of) virtual events. They jumped right in in late March to release their schedule and to create an experience they knew their audience needed. And they did a pretty great job!
Here’s a rundown of our favorite aspects of their approach and, of course, a few things we might have done differently:
1. They focused on graphics to create a branded experience:
C&C created a simple but bold event landing page which served as a hub and digital program, encapsulating all of their content for the day. The design led you through the day like a path, but you could still choose what to do at any given time with a large amount of content deemed “Watch Whenever.” Of course, all of the email communication and downloads, GIFs package & other materials matched beautifully.
For the video content, they ensured that the brand look & feel was paramount. Each one started with an energetic bumper, using clips of their recent live experiences (tear). Each speaker used an all-white virtual background with a banner at the top with their name & title. Streamed and recorded via Zoom, they were able to bring in full-screen branding with a C&C live stage photo as a canvas. It felt very on-brand.
2. They kept it simple, and made it easy to use:
Having the event landing page meant that you only had to sign up & login to be “at the event” - nothing required a huge download or knowledge of how a platform worked. With about 75% of the content pre-recorded, those videos were embedded in the page, hosted by Vimeo. To watch, you just had to click. This also allowed us to decide what we wanted to watch and when, making it a more customized experience. It was one-track, we didn’t have to choose between sessions we really wanted to watch. And, we knew in advance that we would have access to view afterwards (72 hours for ticket-buyers, and unlimited for C&C Insiders).
3. They created a variety of session styles and content types:
There were of course, the welcome, the keynotes and the panels, as you would expect. But there were some fun and surprising elements in the mix as well, such as live mentoring, a pitch content for a $10k prize, a few wellness segments and several workshops as well. We loved that the workshops all had downloadable materials to use during the session.
Least Favorites1. The timing didn’t seem great for the audience:
C&C plays to a working female audience. We’re not positive how many of those are working mothers, but the idea of a 12+ hour event on a Saturday is already a problem for a percentage of their audience. And getting through that much content - despite the “Watch Whenever” option - isn’t really practical these days when so many are working and parenting more than full time. Additionally, it happened to be one of the most beautiful days of the year on the East Coast, and the idea of sitting at a computer was not as appealing, especially after a full work week (even though we were able to sit outside with our laptops for a bit during the kids’ nap time). We have been feeling pretty “Zoomed-out” by Friday these days, how about you?
Perhaps they could have considered streamlining the content, or spreading it out over a few week days instead. We think asking for an hour a day from an engaged audience might be more reasonable than an entire beautiful Saturday when they either want or need to be unplugged. Also, as East Coasters, we didn’t realize the timing was presented in PDT so that threw us for a loop day-of!
2. The content was mostly pre-recorded:
We know, we know, the pre-recording vs. live is a hot button issue right now. There are clearly a ton of advantages to pre-recording for the event organizer and for the audience.
Yes, the smooth viewing experience, less stress on your home connectivity, and none of the awkward “Am I live?” moments can make for better content. However, the lack of urgency and the fewer opportunities to be present and engaged in a live happening takes away a spark. Is this an event or a content library?
It’s still possible to release a segment live even if it’s prerecorded, so perhaps that would have given us more reason to tune in at specific times. With how the site was laid out, you had to scroll from top to bottom to see what was available. There was no shortcut to find what you were looking for, or a way to isolate the live content from the prerecorded, so it required more work for us to navigate and figure out when to watch live.
3. Limited options for engagement:
There were a number of technologies that came together to make Money Moves work. The site, Vimeo vids, Dropbox for attachments, Zoom for live, GIFs on Instagram, and slack for communications. We signed up for the Slack and regretted it. This was the only option within the day for engagements with fellow conference goers. The Slack, was set-up with a channel per session so it was a lot to follow depending on who was watching what and in which order. We didn’t find it very compelling, and though it was a really good idea to try Slack (which we use every minute of the day here at Sequence!) it also felt lacking and, again, off for a Saturday. The next day, the 500 Slack notifications in my inbox was a real pain to deal with.
We really would have liked to have some type of face-to-face interaction option, a game, a “speed-dating” type networking space, etc. We think this area is where most virtual events are missing the opportunity to facilitate engagement for their audiences and not just push out content.
As virtual event scientists, we’re bringing the same attention to strategy, guest experience and content as we always have. We know that everyone is watching each other right now, and we applaud Create & Cultivate for not shying away from bringing an experience to their audience at a time when they need it the most. It looked great, worked well, and brought a lot of value! We do think there is room for improvement in many virtual events to consider their audience and facilitate deeper engagement, but all in all Create & Cultivate’s first virtual conference was well done and definitely something to build on!
Curious to see if the next installment called Digital Summer Camp (scheduled for another Saturday, June 6th) will reflect any major changes or additions. Stay tuned!