Remember the days before the pandemic, when event participants would have to attend via a Zoom call and struggle to feel included while the screen froze or the video conferencing audio went out?
The hybrid model has already taken over major aspects of our lives, with 90% of organizations combining remote and on-site work. Moving forward, event attendees will likely expect a virtual event option paired with an in-person event.
For your event strategy to be effective within this new paradigm, your company needs to look for ways to engage your hybrid audience, whether they’re virtual or face-to-face.
Suppose you’re struggling to create a hybrid event that captivates both of those audiences. In that case, there are powerful hybrid event best practices that will boost engagement and help your participants get the most out of the experience.
#1: Expand your meeting with an event platform that powers up pre-event engagement
Simply sending a Zoom link to your remote participants won’t cut it in today’s event world. To compete with other events and offer the best meeting options, you need a hybrid event platform that provides more capabilities and engages your virtual audience.
The right platform will allow you to offer options that help your remote attendees feel like they’re interacting with each other, the speakers, and the exhibitors in person. However, untapped potential often lies in using your event platform to engage with your audience before the actual event. And yes, you’re probably doing pre-event marketing through external promotional channels, but centralizing the experience for your audience makes the overall experience feel more exclusive, personalized and it offers unique interaction activities.
Later, as the actual event progresses and sessions are going on, you can host an interactive question-and-answer session that encourages your audience to participate in real-time. Platforms like SpotMe Streaming also allow your remote audience to provide feedback to the speaker by giving them virtual applause.
The right technology also allows your event planners to expand networking opportunities, benefiting in-person and virtual audiences. They can network with each other through the event platform via chat and make connections with people who they otherwise wouldn’t meet.
Remote attendees and exhibitors should also be able to interact with each other to make the event as impactful as possible for your sponsors and your audience. Set up virtual booths where they can interact or give them a chance to exchange virtual business cards so they can stay connected.
Now that we have covered the fundamentals, here are important capabilities you should look for in an event platform include:
- Ability to integrate with your other systems, like Salesforce, Marketo, or Cvent
- Enterprise-grade privacy and security that follow GDPR and other regulations
- Closed captioning and live translation in different languages to reach more people
- Templates that are ready to go, making it easier to design and set up your event
- A content management system to host all the information related to the event, including the agenda, speakers, and participants
To get a 6-month practical, step-by-step guide on how to organize a hybrid event, see Hybrid event planning: an executive guide and 6-month practical plan.
#2: Use a mobile event app to provide unique experiences on the go
We’re on our phones all the time. In fact, Americans check their phones an average of 344 times each day. Use that to your advantage and offer participants a mobile event app to bring their experience to a completely new level of engagement.
Use push notifications to give them updates about the speakers and the exhibitors who’ll be at the event or encourage them to start interacting with others who are also attending.
Send notifications during the event as well to alert people when sessions are starting or give them recommendations based on what they’ve already attended. Allow attendees to also buy tickets on the app to any ticketed sessions or VIP networking events, so it’s easier for them to attend anything they want to go to.
Within an event app, there are several attention-grabbing ways for event hosts to engage with both virtual attendees and the physical audience. You can use the app’s technology to:
- Curate specific app experiences based on each type of participant — for example, maybe CEOs and other executives get special push notifications about exclusive networking sessions.
- Create a personalized page where each participant can review their trip summary, search for sessions based on their interest, and check out FAQs about the event.
- Offer a chance for participants to meet each other within the app based on interests. They can chat with each other after they “match” on the app.
- Send out live polls throughout the event or even during the live streaming of your sessions to the entire audience, whether they’re attending in person or virtually.
- Use gamification to create activities for individuals or teams and offer a prize store where they can exchange points for prizes or swag.
- Ask for feedback after the event is over so you can follow up on their overall event experience.
If you’re a life science company looking for the latest HCP engagement trends, check out HCP engagement: emerging trends, success metrics, and omnichannel strategies.
#3: Provide on-demand content
Studies have demonstrated that you can multiply engagement by 10x or above by offering on-demand content. TED events each year get millions of views from their on-demand platforms.
Sometimes your audience can’t attend every session, especially if some overlap or if they have other commitments. On-demand content gives both virtual and in-person attendees a chance to check out every session. It also helps you reach audience members in different time zones who weren’t able to see all the panelists they wished to.
Make sure to record each session with high-quality video and audio equipment so that you can store it in a resources library. Audience members can then access that library for event content, which helps drive traffic to your event website and increase engagement for your sessions (even after the fact).
Aside from sharing keynotes, breakout sessions, and panel discussions, you can also repurpose event content to continue engaging your audience by:
- Turning sessions into blog posts
- Sharing snippets of videos on social media
- Adding subtitles to the videos to be more inclusive and accessible
In your resource library, consider offering a space for attendees to engage with each other as they interact with that on-demand content. It keeps the discussion going, and you’ll be able to interact with them there, which helps your post-event outreach efforts.
Keep global audiences engaged by providing closed captions during events. For more info, read 7 reasons to use live event captioning + 4 things to look for in closed captioning software.
#4: Engage with your audience after the event
Post-event attendees still have the excitement and commotion fresh in their minds. They’re more likely to be open to hearing from and interacting with you than if you attempt to reach out weeks or months after the fact. Since they attended your event, use this opportunity to connect with an audience that’s already shown interest in what your company has to offer.
One of the goals for your event likely was to get new leads. If you’re not reaching out after the event and capitalizing on the momentum, then you’ll have a hard time meeting that goal. A few bulletproof ways to keep up with post-event engagement include:
- Send out a post-event email campaign that thanks your virtual and in-person attendees to keep your company top of mind. Include event highlights and provide links to blogs related to the event to bring more traffic to your site.
- Check event data and see which audience members were the most engaged in keynotes, breakout sessions, and interacting with others — they’re the ones who you should reach out to first.
- In addition to post-event updates, distribute a newsletter to attendees to keep them updated on your company and any information for upcoming events.
- Invite them to webinars that you host related to your live event and the topics that were covered.
- Share that on-demand content on social media channels so that people can comment and engage on those platforms too.
- Offer an exclusive discount for your company’s services to event attendees to keep them coming back to you.
- Engage more with attendees or allow them to share key sessions with their peers through a platform that supports on-demand content.
Get an engaging event technology platform like SpotMe
Trusted by Fortune 500 companies and loved by 10,000,000+ users, SpotMe’s hybrid event platform provides you with the tools and functionality you need to boost audience engagement and make every attendee’s event experience a memorable one.
Events from 100 to 10,000+ participants require enterprise-grade solutions to support the delivery of an ambitious hybrid event. SpotMe covers exactly that and pairs it with 24/7 instant support and white-glove service. Contact us today to set up a demonstration so we can show you all the ways in which you can elevate your event technology, remain compliant, and drive the highest levels of audience engagement yet.