In only a few weeks of lockdown, digital videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom have become a daily addition to the working routine. Teammates are holding virtual catch-ups, project groups are collaborating online, managers are briefing their direct reports and marketers are looking at new ways to engage with customers through virtual events.
There are certainly many advantages associated with virtual events, not least the fact that they can continue safely during the current Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. But the benefits go further too. For one thing, they are far more environmentally-friendly without the need for delegates to travel to a physical location. They are potentially cheaper to run, more accessible and they save time for everyone. They can also be infinitely more flexible, with no limits on delegate numbers for example.
However, there are some obvious areas where the online experience falls down.
For example, there is no way of networking and bonding in the same way as delegates will do around a buffet or the bar in a live event. There are no free drinks or goodie bags. And there are domestic distractions in the form of kids, dogs, emails and knocks at the door.
However, the very nature of the lockdown means that businesses are starting to innovate again, and live events are one perfect way in which they can do this. The changing nature of the market forces businesses to think creatively in the way that they would have done as startups. Existing structures and established modes of doing business are temporarily on hold – so it’s time to welcome digital technology as a great enabler for events of all kinds.
Fear is a big blocker and online events are still largely an unknown. Some delegates will also have had experiences of poor bandwidth, failing tech and experience which simply doesn’t compete with a live version.
But these concerns can be largely mitigated. Online events are now being marketed with the same thorough approaches as a physical event. They are being hosted with the best speakers, the best technology and professional lighting, audio equipment and cameras to offer a great experience. Online events are being sponsored, and their benefits are being promoted.
For example, attendees can watch live and interact with questions and other interactive features, or they can watch segments and talks at their own leisure. Participants can also access other forms of digital media, such as notes and presentations, and engage on social media to share comments and feedback. The experience can rapidly become highly engaging and compelling, with the same immediacy as a live event – but the ability to enjoy it from the comfort of one’s office or home.
Certainly, it looks as though digital events will be with us for the immediate future and many believe that they will grow in the longer term too, especially as working and business patterns adjust in the Covid-fearful world. This means that smart businesses are now seeking the digital marketing talent that can help them to take their online events and digital marketing strategies forward.
Some of the best talents in this space are also prepared to work flexibly and from home, further magnifying the benefits that start-up minded businesses can accrue by rediscovering their innovative side.
Central London (WFH), £300 p/d. Initial 3-6mth contract. Expected to roll.
Central London (WFH), £70k
Central London (WFH), £80k + Bens
Central London (WFH), to £35k + Excellent Bens. (Freelance £250 p/d).
Central London, £45k + Excellent Bens - 6 mth FTC (expected to roll to Perm)
Central London, DOE