Hosting an event can be quite complicated, but add to the mix attendees participating in person, remotely and watching a livestream, and you have a whole new challenge on your hands. The good thing is that blended conferences create many possibilities for event organizers to engage more attendees and add a new dimension to their programs – and they are becoming more popular all the time.
With the right strategy and support in place, blended conferences can be incredibly powerful for your brand. Here are a few things you should consider when organizing your next event.
Those who attend in person will have a dramatically different experience than those watching a livestream. Create a list of the challenges that each group might face and keep these in mind during your planning process. Challenges you might face can include:
- Difficulty engaging remote attendees when on-site participants are doing something hands-on.
- Remote attendees who are hard to hear and who may have trouble expressing questions from outside the room.
- On-site participants who lack smartphones or laptops and have trouble connecting with remote attendees.
Use an online community
By creating a space for all attendees to connect before, during and after the event, you will provide a more seamless experience for everyone. It’s great to give everyone a central place to find information, meet new people and share resources. Online communities act like private social networks and help create an engaged attendee group before the event takes place. Consider using OneLobby, Pathable or Social2. (If you prefer others, please let us know.)
Twitter is a great medium for conversations during the event. By using both the mobile and web-based versions, attendees will be able to tweet takeaways and share lessons learned. Create an event hashtag and share it with attendees early on. Also, make sure that you have a moderator who will be regularly tuned into these channels to answer questions and engage remote attendees. This social media concierge of sorts can be considered the middle man (or woman) between live and remote attendees.
Create clear communications channels
Some blended conferences fail when they provide too many communication options for attendees. While it’s fine to integrate several channels, like Twitter and Facebook, it’s important to clearly communicate how you would like attendees to use each channel. Before your event, create a guide that encourages attendees to share pictures on Facebook, questions on Twitter, etc.
Provide full support
It’s not a best practice to create a blended conference and “let it ride.” Your goal as an event organizer is to fully staff every aspect of your blended event. You need staff members to be focused on the audience watching a livestream. They should be interacting with this audience, making sure the technology works seamlessly and relaying questions to the in-person speakers and organizers. You need a similar process for any attendees attending remotely.
With these best practices in mind, you can create a very successful blended conference that extends the reach of your brand. If your event is planned well, you can expand your reach via remote attendees and create such an engaging experience that they will join in person the next time you host!