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Building a Branded Virtual Event During the New Normal

Posted by Erin Zhang on September 4, 2020 at 7:15 AM

The New & Improved Social Gathering

With social distancing measures ruling all corners of our lives still, large gatherings of any kind aren’t happening anytime soon. Prior to COVID, these events were a great opportunity for brands to hop on as sponsors or hosts. Virtual events have become the new normal –across all industries and aspects of our lives.

Whether it’s a digital rendition of a live performance, film screening, industry conference, or skill sharing course, brands are reimagining traditional ways they interact with their audience. In this blog, Hollywood Branded examines how cost-effectiveness and extended audience reach make virtual events appealing --along with three ideas for executing an amazing one!


Building a branded virtual event during the new normal


WHY: Cost Effective & Larger Reach

To combat social distancing boredom, brands have translated traditional large gatherings into a digital medium. People are always looking for things to replace their boredom, and it is much easier to capture attention nowadays.

Mundane activities like scrolling mindlessly on TikTok or rewatching that Netflix sitcom for the third time can be less fulfilling than something truly interactive.

Despite its digital medium, planning a branded virtual event can be tricky and time-consuming. Hollywood Branded can attest to this. There are a plethora of unforeseen tasks and problems that can arise, but the benefits of such events speak for themselves.

Before you scoff at the idea of pouring time and energy into a virtual event, we should talk about how these events’ cost-effectiveness and wide audience reach make them incredibly valuable.

dreamstime_xxl_150250587First and foremost, the virtual event’s lower cost and larger audience reach is a fantastic bang for your buck. You will most likely only be paying for one-time technology fees, much lower than the various bills for physical rentals, event attendants, etc. Obviously, the planning processes involved can be just as hefty as planning in-person events. However, virtual events often attract more people due to sheer convenience (and the complete lack of other things to do these days).

Not only will there be more eyes on the product and brand due to lenient limitations on attendee count, but virtual events are also less of a commitment. This means that more people who normally couldn’t (or wouldn’t) commit to full, live events can now tune in and out of virtual events as they please.

Another perk of putting on a virtual event is that you’ll have permanent content to repurpose for social media, case studies, and future viewing. With saved recordings of performances, interviews, panels, presentations, you’d be saving money on filming gear and professional labor. This is especially valuable for new businesses that are just starting out and looking for a cheap, impactful way to make themselves known!

Next, let’s look at three ways you can market your branded virtual event as to best captivate your audience.


HOW: Content that Teaches

One of the first ways you can effectively attract viewers is by creating content that teaches. With seemingly all the (free) time in the world these days, people want to fill it up with something useful! There has never been more time than ever to start learning new and honing past skills.

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Early spring of this year, the Adobe Summit, traditionally held in Las Vegas, went digital in response to COVID concerns. The newly virtual conference consisted of keynote company speakers/panels, product demos, and special celebrity guests. The Summit provided 400 sessions and labs in various sectors of marketing, management, and product design. With Adobe being such a renowned brand in the creative world, there was no doubt that it was still a great experience.

Likewise, the Hollywood Branded team just finished up with our first annual Marketer’s Content Playbook Virtual Summit. Overall, we captured the attention of over 1000 attendees –who were able to freely attend any of the speaker sessions and Q&As over the course of three days. Speaker topics ranged from the science of purchasing, to the future of influencer marketing, to David Bowie’s branding strategy. Our summit was able to break into the college student demographic as well, giving students learning and networking opportunities to replace lost internships and virtual lectures.

Virtual events like these provide a teaching opportunity that is more easily accessible for professionals and students all over the world!

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HOW: Virtual Entertainment

In addition to learning from professionals, people are obviously looking for virtual entertainment outlets these days. Streaming content can only go so far during quarantine, so virtual events can provide a more interactive experience. The average consumer is eagerly waiting for brands to creatively think of fun, engaging virtual events.

virtual entertainment

Even the bigger events like music festivals and conventions have hopped over to a digital medium. These events create plenty of branding opportunities while attracting roughly the same audience (and even more,) due to the fact that many of these events became free for all.

Lollapalooza, for example, went virtual and held a free, 4-day virtual concert series. The event was broadcast live on YouTube each day, featuring past performances, live sets, and side highlights of the causes important to the festival’s and Chicago’s community. Brands like Red Bull and Toyota sponsored various performances that no longer required expensive fees that came with stage sponsoring and logo printing.


HOW: Charitable Partnerships

In addition to the COVID forces wreaking havoc on the physical and mental health of our communities, social justice issues have gained a bigger spotlight. It can be beneficial for brands to work with local communities and national organizations in mind for their virtual event. People are looking for avenues to support good causes while perhaps getting something useful in return, like virtual entertainment or classes!

Charitable partnerships

Looking closer at a case study of a charitable partnership, Chat4Good has found success in marketing their virtual event this way. The platform invites a popular TV show’s cast for a “unique and intimate conversation, live and direct from their homes to yours.” Chat4Good has partnered with organizations like Red Nose Day and Feeding America, whilst broadcasting virtual entertainment like the Pretty Little Liars reunion chat.

Not only will charitable partnership events strengthen your brand’s social alignment, your audience is more likely to consist of newbies to your brand and platform. Those who may not have even heard of your brand may be likely to attend your event solely on the basis that they can support a charitable cause while doing so.

 


Tying it All Together

Virtual events have become the pinnacle of social gatherings in this day and age. The best way for brands to simultaneously capture the attention of large audiences is to take advantage of planning a virtual event now.

Sure, virtual events may throw you on a learning curve or take some time to get used to, but they are going to be the new normal. Pandemic or not, virtual events are a great bang for your buck. They can be a lot more cost effective and attract a wider audience reach due to convenience and accessibility. Your brand should get ahead of the game and start crafting the perfect event for your audience + other outside visitors!

There is a plethora of events you can still wedge your brand into these days. The opportunities are endless, and solely up to your brand’s ability to creatively think outside-of-the-box. To best capture a wide audience scope, these can range from virtual learning to virtual entertainment to virtual charity!

People are looking to fill their time. How will your brand provide an engaging experience for them to do just that?

Read these blogs to learn from some of the thought leaders we have interviewed on our podcast, and who also appeared at our Marketer's Content Playbook to teach a session!

Make sure you check out our monthly Marketer's Content Playbook Mini Sessions and sign up here!

Check out our agency's podcast, Marketing Mistakes (+ How To Avoid Them) where you can gain insights from marketing and business experts every week!

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Topics: Strategic Partnerships, Event Activations, Business Advice