Digital Events in 2020: 5 Ways to Engage Your Audience

Event canceled. All of us remember when businesses started being impacted by Covid-19 and the initial wave of event cancellations.

Now that over 70 major tech events have shifted online, it’s important to think about how we can best engage our digital audience while still meeting event and business goals. 

To do so, we’ll consider examples from leading companies and takeaways.

1. Sony

For Sony’s recent Playstation release, instead of a 74-minute in-person presentation, Sony cut to a 58-second speech and let the game do the talking. The content was modified to include short intermissions, artistic animations, and dramatic music to keep lively. The event garnered a favorable response from fans on social media.

Sony appeared to have learned some of those lessons for its PlayStation event on June 11, showing off new games as well as a surprise reveal of the design for its coming PlayStation 5, also coming this fall. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan kicked off the 74-minute-long presentation with a 58-second speech, which he finished by saying, “Enough from me. We’re going to have the games do our talking.” 

Takeaway: Consider shortening the length of planned presentations to keep the audience engaged.

2. Microsoft

Microsoft Build shifted to a TV show concept for its online developer event. Product presentations and demos were cut to 44 minutes like an episode and demos even shorter. This content format was more engaging for the audience and provided more interaction between the presenter and the camera compared to live streaming the presentations.

Microsoft also used a sports commentator-inspired newsdesk staffed with people from their developer program to discuss announcements and highlights, including comments and tweets from people watching live. 

Takeaway: Keep the online event fun and interesting by breaking it up into sections. A live moderator can help keep the energy up throughout the event.

3. Google

Google SheetsCon, which was hosted on a custom event platform, provided a short intro video for people to watch as they logged into the platform. This video acted as a brief tutorial that introduced attendees to the platform’s different features and instructed them on how to interact with the various pages. 

Takeaway: Inform attendees with navigation tips and compelling content.

Google also hosted an incredibly popular contest to win 25 swag bags with branded event shirts and stickers. In order to win, participants had to share something about the event on social media using the dedicated event hashtag. This technique increases brand and event awareness while engaging attendees. A win for everyone!

Takeaway: Leverage contests to increase event awareness and keep attendees engaged! 

4. Salesforce 

Salesforce AppExchange Demo Jam gave Salesforce AppExchange partners three minutes each to do a live demo demonstrating their apps. The audience was then asked to vote for their favorite using a dedicated link that was accessible for 24 hours following the session and the winner was announced on Twitter the next day.

Takeaway: When possible, integrate social channels with Event Features

5. Pivot to Virtual

Pivot to Virtual had the brilliant idea to use artists to create digital live scribing to engage the event audience with a unique type of content. These talented illustrators create artwork live during panel discussions providing a graphical representation of the speakers and takeaways that are entertaining, informative, and most importantly, widely shareable/postable.