How should we deal with postponed events?
In this article we analyse how to keep up postponed events participants’ engagement, focusing on content marketing, social media engagement and webinars.
As we all know, due to the coronavirus outbreak, all sorts of events have been either cancelled or postponed, especially exhibitions, conferences, trade shows and similar large gatherings.
In a hurry? Check our video summary of this post:
Focus on content
Right now, to preserve postponed event participants’ engagement, the Internet became a precious ally. Your Event’s website can now become a virtual stage on how to keep the conversation alive on your event, even more than before:
- In-depth analysis and a small taste of the event
- Speakers interviews
- Participants’ survey: you can test what they learnt from your seminars, and even investigate users opinion about the event, etc.
Focus on your social media community
Keep your social media community engaged so that your event interest won’t weaken, review your editorial plan, reprogram your editorial schedule, network virtually. Try to capture your community’s attention with discussions on social media, asking opinions, tips and ideas. In a few words:
- Ask questions to your community on your posts: what’s their opinion on the subject?
- Monitor the conversations: your role doesn’t end when posting, read and participate to comments
- Get ready for criticism: managing even negative comments, it shows expertise and professionalism
A good example is Ted Talks calendar, which obviously changed and the organisers wisely decided to ask participants’ opinion if they should postpone Vancouver’s conference in July or not.
Focus on visual impact: what images should you choose for postponed events?
Visual Content is highly impacting for engagement purposes, as you surely know. However, choosing the right images may be more complicated than expected. In case of annual or regular events, you should focus on your past editions material. Select the images representing the most interesting moments and even short videos to increase viewers’ attention.
Our advice is to take time to go through your images and select those that are curious, backstage photos for example. In this case, the pictures don’t need to be technically excellent, but you will choose those that can communicate most.
In case your event is taking place for the first time, it’s a good idea choosing images with visual content that looks exciting and provokes curiosity. You can use stock imagery websites, but if you can avoid using free images and choose to make a small investment (it only takes a few tens of pounds a month), so you won’t use images that are already too used online.
Finally, even your event participants can create engagement. For example, visitors can share their picture announcing their participation at the event and each one that does will receive a small gift at the live event. You could create a collage of all images and put them on display during the actual event.
There are of course many other options you could use, which could easily carry us away from this article.
Focus on Webinars
Among all kinds of content options you could focus on to keep up your participants’ engagement, there are Webinars, which can provide your audience news content, tips, educational content and much more, so that they can ‘get ready’ for what the event will be like once going live.
To mention an example ITB Berlin, the World’s Leading Travel Show, decided to cancel their 2020 edition. If you have a look on their website it is already updated with their next 2021 edition date and they aim at news and information sharing, which cannot be a substitute of the show itself. However, if we step back, we can observe that many discussions are on important subjects that keep the community together, talking and sharing their opinions about the industry, with online conferences that now generate online networking and tomorrow will convert in show’s participants.
Hybrid Format is the future: how it works and why you should use it
There is no need to say we all know face-to-face meetings are irreplaceable. However, in times like these and especially in a post-coronavirus mentality, online resources are an undeniable alternative to consider, keeping up engagement and preserving sales and potential leads for when recovery will start.
Let’s make an example.
Especially for international events, where participants may not be able to travel easily, in alternative to cancellation, hybrid events may be the ideal solution. If we look at IBT Berlin again, after their 2020 cancellation some of their participants were already in Berlin and some others weren’t. What they did was choosing to arrange virtual meeting rooms so conversations could carry on online.
Maarten Vanneste, a senior consultant at the Meeting Design Institute, explains the concept of multi-hub meetings:
“In times like these, when participants cannot travel, this layout allows them to take part to the event from their homes, with people that around the world didn’t have restrictive travelling measures like them. In every city, the hub, a group of people more or less big will meet, depending on government guidelines. In one of the safest countries during that specific time, the real conference takes place. From the tech point of view, participants only need a laptop; although it is vital they receive clear instructions on this layout. Even Speakers can meet in different cities from the live conference. However, our advice is to rely on professionals who can manage interactions and involve experts in this type of format”
The world is anxious to go back to normal, however, if we look at the Event Industry, we will likely face new layouts and trends, where technology will be a major part of it. Therefore events will look different post-coronavirus, and it will surely take a while to see large gatherings happening again anytime soon.
What we can do is looking at small events first and getting ready when the big comeback will happen. Learning about all virtual tools available is vital right now, and that will give you a competitive edge to keep using them for your future events, a hybrid is likely what we will face on the other side.
Have you changed your event strategy post-coronavirus or will you adopt the same?
Let us know in the comments below.