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Virtual and Hybrid Events

How Virtual and Hybrid Events Are Helping the Events Industry Thrive Post-Pandemic

Marissa Pick

Social Media & Digital Marketing Expert, Founder, Marissa’s Picks

Events may have been cancelled or moved online during the pandemic, but now the events industry is poised for a comeback and a big digital transformation.

“My prediction is that conferences are going to stay either virtual or hybrid until 2022, when the threat of COVID-19 is lessened,” said social media and digital marketing expert Marissa Pick of Marissa Pick Consulting LLC.

She says digital conferences of the past year have had a positive impact. The digital events have enabled more people to attend virtually. Many of these events have been free, with participants paying a small fee to access slides, if they choose. 

Digital transformation

Pick, named a “Top 29 Event Industry Influencer” by G2 Planet, says the pandemic caused an acceleration of a digital transformation: “The silver lining is a rapidly evolved digital for many brands that were kind of avoiding it,” she said.

Now’s the time to use digital event platforms to connect audiences and build longer-lasting relationships. Pick has some favorite platforms, including Brella, which offers custom, one-to-one meetings, as well as live streaming; and Hopin, which provides webinar sessions, chats and polls, and interactive elements that can be fully customizable and brandable. 

She’s also a fan of Clubhouse, an audio-only social media app, which she says is great to pre-promote events. 

“Events and clubhouse go hand-in-hand,” said Pick, who calls the app authentic, and says it’s a breath of fresh air and a much-needed distraction from video and Zoom fatigue.

Engagement tips

Pick encourages brands and businesses to capitalize on this digital transformation to more effectively reach their audiences.  She says it’s essential to get the attention of attendees, especially the younger generation. For example, sharing quotes on social media is really powerful visual content.

“Content has to be engaging, short, and visual,” she said. “That’s really the future.”

Events are back

Some in-person events are popping up outdoors, and with lots of physical distancing. Still attending events is all about individuals’ respective comfort levels. Hybrid events are the best of both worlds.

“People are hungry to go back because you really can’t replace that face to face connection,” Pick said. “But I do think virtual events or hybrid events definitely are as powerful as physical events.”

Hybrid events have allowed brands to have an extended impact, helping them reach a broader audience and drive deeper engagement online. Plus, by developing content and deeper connections with speakers and attendees from virtual events, brands can stand out and have higher retention.

She says brands need to refocus their goals and understand why people will attend the event, whether it’s virtual or in-person. For example, is it for lead generation to drive sales? Content marketing? Engagement?
“I think it allows event companies or event producers to really refine how they’re doing things,” Pick said. “And consider how they might be able to — whether it’s driving sales or driving engagement — mix up and shake up what works and what doesn’t.”

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