Alone, together: Pivoting to virtual events in the middle of a pandemic

· Digital and Experience, Tricks of the trade · ,

For industries across Australia, it’s increasingly hard to escape the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) – especially if your operations rely on face-to-face interactions. From Bluesfest and the Grand Prixto AGMs and conferences, events of all sizes are being cancelled and postponed, leaving many businesses questioning how they will go on.  

Even the “Doing business under Coronavirus roundtable was cancelled last week – a harsh bit of irony for your enjoyment

But adaptation – especially in times of crisis – is in our DNA, and we must go on nonetheless. There will be jobs lost and businesses that fallbut we must band together to make the most of the hyper-connected world that has arisen over the past decadeAnd going virtual is a viable solution for the foreseeable future.  

Live streaming is, without doubt, a plan B

Nothing will ever beat the human connection felt in a bustling crowd, or the ease of learning and negotiating in-person. But as is the case with all survival, staying in the game requires creative evolution  

Thankfully, recent technological advancements have seen a massive swing towards live streamingBusinesses can already bring offline audiences together via a range of digital medium– from multi-camera broadcasts, 3D tours and webinars, to video-conferences on Microsoft Teams and casual chats on Instagram Live.  

In fact, you can curate a highquality livestreamed event for as little as $3k – a far cry from the thousands spent on a physical one. 

Starbucks just hosted its first online shareholder meeting. Entire music festivals are happening on-screen. Conferences around the world are taking place in virtual environments this year. Even funerals are going online. 

Just this week at Keep Left, we turned what was supposed to be a two-day event for a client into a live-streamed interactive webinar. The face-to-face training was scheduled to happen in Brisbane but pivoted to a digital broadcast from our Melbourne studio. 

With travel bans and increasing restrictions on gatheringthis kind of quick evolution is inevitable. 

But there are many tiers to virtual events

While social media may be immediate and intuitive, there’s a huge difference in quality and control between streaming live on Facebook and from a professional studio.  

As with all video content, a webcam or phone camera just can’t beat the quality and professionalism of broadcast cameras with a curated backdrop and expert focus-pulling.  

We’re in control of the lighting, we can switch angles and cut to supplementary footage, and we can capture high-quality content for other platforms as we go. And we can host the stream on an owned platform, so that we’re not relying on social media usage as a prerequisite for engagement.  

While both tiers can be experienced anywhere in the world via a strong, private internet connection, you can’t monetise social media. Being able to gate and ticket your virtual events is imperative if this alternative is going to work for businesses in the long run.  

Virtual events are not without benefit

By going online this week, our client actually increased viewership and engagement, reaching trainees in more states than originally intended thanks to the ease of digital access. Here are some other efficiencies we found:  

Extending the content’s shelf life  

Filming the program live meant that we could capture collateral content on set, to create a bank of resources that will be rolled out via a strategic content marketing campaign.

Smart analytics

Because we’re working digitally, whave access to quantitative reports on attendance, visitor traffic patterns and engagement levels that can be used as key learnings for future activities. 

Increased interactivity

Holding polls, surveys and group messaging capabilities throughout the virtual event encouraged the exchange of ideas among attendees

Cost efficiencies

We had decreased venue overheads, zero licensing and catering fees, and a significantly lower carbon footprint. Sustainability, in times like these, becomes even more paramount as we reflect on the impact of our travel and operations around the world.  

At Keep Left, our creative and digital specialists have spent the past few weeks pivoting our AV, tech and social engagement experience to this new life online.  

As devastated as we are for society and the economy, it’s time for us and our clients to do what we do best – innovate, take time to push our capabilities forward, and lean in to the forced acceleration of technology that will inevitably come from this.   

Written by Johanna Murray · · Digital and Experience, Tricks of the trade · ,
NextANZ partners with Keep Left for content marketing