Rising in popularity hybrid events are a cost effective way to increase reach and work within government guidelines. We take a look at how they work.
WHAT IS A HYBRID EVENT?
You may have heard the term being discussed recently as if it’s a new invention, but in reality many savvy brands had already begun adding hybrid elements to their events.
Simply put, a hybrid event caters to two audiences- attendees in a physical venue but also reaching an audience online.
But it’s also important to understand what hybrid events are not. Livestreaming your event on Facebook or Instagram Live doesn’t go far enough to replicate the experience at the venue. To be considered a true hybrid, those online need to be offered the same opportunities to interact with the event. Whether it be through speaker Q+As, visiting exhibition stands, or chatting to fellow attendees.
As social distancing measures look to be in place for quite some time yet, the capacity of physical venues will continue to be restricted and hybrid events will only increase in frequency.
Benefits of a hybrid event
Their rise in popularity is down to the many benefits that the hybrid model offers over traditional events.
Reach- probably the biggest advantage, by opening your event up to online attendees you can reach a much larger audience. Suddenly you’re not restricted by venue size or geographical location. When these barriers to attendance are removed, you become more accessible and can turn a crowd of hundreds into thousands.
Budget- with less demands on the physical space and a larger audience online, hybrid events can deliver strong ROI for brands. With most of the audience online you can reduce costs associated with large venue hire. There’s no need to organise a multi-site tour as a single hybrid event can reach a national (or even global) audience. Higher attendee numbers and lower venue costs add up to a very cost-effective solution.
Technology- Obviously, tech plays a crucial role in delivering a hybrid event by relaying the live action to those tuning in online. Invest in a top end wifi solution to ensure a reliable content stream. Increase camera and microphone placement (instead of relying on a fixed feed positioned only at the stage), multiple perspectives will give a more immersive experience to the online audience.
Relevant Content- Although hybrid events can attract a broad audience it’s important not to take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the content. To increase engagement, develop an event programme that includes a suite of content options attendees can browse and interact with. If scheduling is an issue, consider exclusive online content that all attendees can view post event.
Interactivity- A hybrid event shouldn’t just be a livestream of the main stage. Building in ways for those online to interact will create a richer and more memorable experience for all attendees. Facilitate conversations between your audience and allow them to influence what’s happening at the live event. Take exhibition halls online, and build areas of the site where people can talk to your partner brands and take advantage of offers or purchase products.
When measuring success there are a number of metrics that you should assess.
Attendance- First look at your combined physical and online audience- how many people in total engaged with your event? Review how many ticket purchases or sign ups you received; what percentage of those people attended? Dissect the audience into passive participants and those who were more engaged. For example, what percentage of the audience made use of the chat or Q+A features?
Dwell time- Of those that attended how long did the average attendee stay for? Was there a difference between physical attendees and those online? Did you do enough to keep those online engaged or was it easy for them to lose interest and tune out?
Attendee journey- what areas of the event were the most engaged with? In what order did attendees interact with different parts of the event? Can you identify any common journeys? If there are any dead areas look at why this might have happened, was the content not relevant enough? Or did it just need to be highlighted better?
Asses the above metrics against the budget spend, to review whether the investment delivered the attendance and engagement KPIs.
It’s easy to see why hybrid events are increasing in popularity amongst brands and event organisers. They provide access to a much wider audience than traditional events and have a lower production budget than stand-alone physical activations.
With social distancing measures set to continue throughout 2020 hybrid events strike a happy medium between retaining the magic of a live event and human connection. But they also give your audience a choice to engage physically or stay at home.
If you’re interested in running a hybrid event, or would like to see case studies from our work with Pandora, TK Maxx or King please drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org.