Taking events online: our first lessons learned
As soon as health authorities world-wide began to rule out events, we asked our project managers at DDG Europe to transform to online video shows, as plan B. We already had ample experience with recording events, since many of the conferences and other get-togethers we organize for clients are recorded for online distribution.
We started looking at formats used by different companies that share webinars and interviews online. Simple fast formats enable us to offer flexible solutions for events online. But we also launched a live online broadcasting show as a packaged alternative to face-to-face events. An online event-in-a-box.
Three months later we can say: the learning curve is a steep one for all of us. We have seen that there are many producers and studios, but we also know their expertise is producing video while ours is creating online event experiences as stepping stones in customer journeys. We would like to share a few lessons-learned with everyone who is considering or involved in events online.
Do not copy your event 1:1
If you already had plans for an event: copying the same program to make a video or live show, does not work. Your conference or seminar would have had a captive audience sitting quiet for a few hours. Your online event has viewers who can switch on and off at any moment. And they will, if you do not manage to keep them interested. So ensure your content is presented in a snappy fashion and condensed.
Embed it in your marketing
Online events are natural building blocks in online campaigns. If you do it smart, you are working on a content library for your website. Consequently, you will have suitable content for your newsletters and social media. You invite people to watch the show when it goes ‘live’ and remind them to watch it. And you have them watch it afterwards. A content long tail.
You are not making TV
Talk shows, interviews and news programs on TV are a great source for ideas, but these complex TV productions have big budgets and experienced editors. Furthermore: few shows are right the first time; it takes some team-building to find the flow. So for an online event the old adagio is still valid: keep it simple, stupid.
Why go live?
Events are always live, so we tend to bring live events online. Think again! If you record that event, you get more production flexibility. You can also use pre-recorded parts in a live show, like case-stories on location or street-interviews.
Spontaneous reactions in a good interview work much better than prepared presentations. Some people are natural speakers on camera, but for the lesser gods among us it is better to create a positive context in an interview setting, with an experienced interviewer.
Consider serialized content!
Our attention span for online events is shorter than for live events. Consider to produce four half hour webcasts instead of one two-hour show. Make your own station logo, and use a recognizable set with a background that serves as an identifier. That will give you more content to share on your website and social media.
Create your own long-tail
When you serialize, you are building a library of video content. You are writing history. Look back at your achievements the past few years: what would have looked good on video nowadays? Imagine what will be of value in the near future and have it recorded now.
Consider the extra catch
You may be making online videos for customers or business partners, but these could also find their way to current and future employees, shareholders and other stakeholders.