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  • Writer's pictureMarie Farrar Knowles

The Power of Digital Events

Prior to 2020, webinars were becoming obsolete -- some may even say that the webinar was dead. Not surprisingly, this year brands leveraged virtual events more than ever. But, are people actually still attending virtual events now that virtual happy hours are no longer the trend that they were seven months ago? The answer is yes. While some folks have returned to being “social” outdoors or within their own smaller circles, there are still a considerable number of individuals who have yet to engage in business networking or social activities outside the home (and rightly so). The truth is digital events still have the power to create the human connections we all crave. You might even argue that, in some ways, online events can create even more opportunities for one-on one interaction – particularly among those wallflowers who might not typically participate as well in an in-person setting or networking event. (Plus, having personally researched conferences and events across a number of industries, the digital event trend will continue well into 2021.)

So how do run a successful virtual event? How do you keep content engaging and bringing folks back for more?

Following are a few tips:

· Spend the time to brainstorm and create a killer topic. The rules haven’t changed for online vs. in-person. Compelling content is still key – one could argue that it is even more important now - so give yourself a gut check as to whether you'd tune in and don't be afraid to switch up the topic, add speakers or elements of engagement. This also includes inviting not only knowledgeable panelists but those you know will have fun and bring a bit of levity and entertainment. Consider a value-add like offering free networking with a VIP or celebrity or, depending on the topic, it could be as simple as a worksheet or template that attendees could use later. (Hubspot has a few tips to keep your virtual conference and webinar topics engaging here.)

· Market the heck out of it! Then, take advantage of those auto reminders in Eventbrite to provide explicit instructions as to how to join (in addition to the link button). Take advantage of free social media to promote it or throw a few ad dollars behind it. Be sure to remind your team, speakers, partners and sponsors to share it on their social channels and websites by creating graphics and content they can share with their audiences.

· That said, don’t overdo it. Sure, you had amazing attendance at your first digital event, but your next wasn’t so hot. When developing your plan, think about the types of industries they work and how likely they are going to want to sit in front of their computer. Once a month or even a quarter might be enough. In terms of length, find your sweet spot in terms in terms of how many people attend, stay engaged throughout the event, and watch drop off rates. Don’t be afraid to mix it up too with some longer and shorter content.

· Develop a warm and inviting space. You know how real estate agents have cookies baking when you walk through the front door so it feels like home? Do the same for your events. Don’t be afraid to play some music as folks join the call, write out a few comments or questions in advance and recruit members of your team to help with online engagement.

Upcoming Digital Marketing Events

Here are a couple of digital marketing events I'll be attending this month:

Marketing Strategies & Trends This 2020 Political Season

October 28, 2020

As the political races continue, the changing strategies the campaigns take (and the steps that digital platforms have taken in response) could shape the future of all marketing and advertising — let alone determine who wins the White House and the Senate. AMA Colorado will bring together a panel of political marketing experts to examine the digital trends we’re seeing amidst this election and how to approach them.

Register here

Inc. 5000 Vision Conference

October 19–23, 2020

The Inc. 5000 Vision Conference is a virtual week-long conference curated for small business leaders and established entrepreneurs with big name speakers like Mark Cuban to Rebecca Minkoff. The awesome part? The keynote sessions are available to join for free.

Register here.

Lessons to Live by:

4 Ways to Survive Working (and Learning) From Home with Kids – Inc. Magazine

With only a small percentage of students going to school in person, working parents are yet again asking themselves, 'How am I going to get through this?'

What we’re listening to:

· Album - OK Computer – Radiohead (1997) – It is difficult to believe this pivotal album that helped transform Radiohead a 90s indie band to an iconic rock band is more than 20 years old. And come on, we know you could use some “Karma Police” right now.

· Song - Dancing on My Own, Robyn (2010) - Cuz sometimes you've got to dance.

· Podcast - The Michelle Obama Podcast – Need a bit of a reality check and sanity surrounding work, relationships and making sense of the world? If you struggle between wanting to have it all or taking a moment to truly enjoy the things that matter, you’ve got to listen.

In other news:

Who knew Tab was still around? Until recently that is. According to Ad Week, Coke Finally Pulls the Plug on Tab as Part of a Sweeping Portfolio Restructuring.

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