Six success factors of hybrid and digital events
Hybrid events have reached a new level in event evolution. Eye-level, interaction, simultaneity and flexibility are key features of the new hybrid events. Analog and digital communication merge into a highly dynamic unit resulting in communication fireworks.
The experiences gained from a large number of hybrid and digital events, which differ in target group size, objectives and format, were discussed in four focus groups and evaluated and brought together in qualitative content analysis.
The result is six success factors. The concrete implementation must always focus on the event objectives and the target groups. A central component here is the topic area of “participation, interaction and co-creation”. The involvement of participants on-site and in the digital space creates emotional experiences. This is especially the case when content is adapted to the needs of the target groups and participants and directly addressed. This creates real added value for all participants. In short, content is king – before, during and after the event.
LIVE IS LIVE?
Digital and hybrid event formats played an important role in live marketing and communication long before the COVID-19 pandemic. While offline events score mainly through direct and personal contact, multi-sensory content as well as emotions and experiences, the focus of digital formats has so far mostly been on reach. This results primarily from the fact that digital formats are generally used independently of time and place and are available almost always and everywhere. The digital conference can be attended by a global group of participants and content can be provided in digital form before and after the event.
Further arguments are sustainability (e.g. reducing emissions by not travelling to physical meetings), effectiveness and efficiency (e.g. by reducing travel time to physical meetings) and convenience (it is more convenient to watch the event on your own monitor).
CONTENT IS STILL KING
A lot can also be learned from TV productions in terms of effective content production and broadcasting/communication. Content must be to the point, exciting, entertaining, professionally produced and create added value in order to reach the target groups. If this is not the case, there is a chance that recipients will lose interest and, for example, turn to their email inbox.
In addition to the above-mentioned aspects of participation, interaction and co-creation as well as autonomy and choice, followed by the considerations on timing, duration, dramaturgy and attention, there are the following content design recommendations for hybrid and digital events: Speakers and speakers have to be “made fit” for the (new) digital situation, since digital events “work” differently than analogue live events (applause, reactions from the participants, studio situation, handling the camera, volume, intonation, etc.) A briefing related to the content and the digital situation must take place for each program item (length of the program item, content, design and inclusion of graphic elements, etc.)