29 Jul Use a Mix of Informative and Collaborative Content in Online Events
When we all jumped on airplanes and traveled to events, we went for the content, but also because we wanted to make valuable connections. Today, we’re looking for the same thing in online events. As an event planner, that means creating events that hold your audience’s interest from start to finish.
Often, that circles back around to content. How does your content fulfill the promise the event participants are expecting? While online content used to just be a bonus for event participants, today it’s the entire event – at least for the time being. While many aspects of an online event can replicate in-person events, the tactile elements are no longer there. So, to keep an online audience engaged, you must look at content from a different perspective.
One way to reimagine content is to consider whether it should be informative or collaborative.
Informative vs. Collaborative Content
Informative content provides event participants with useful and valuable information by answering their questions or teaching them something new. Informative content can be general or more technical, and it can range from simple instructions about registration or the day’s events, to promotional content on a company’s products and services, to material gathered in a collaborative session.
Here are some points to help you determine whether your content needs to be informative:
Format. Informative content may include blogs, white papers, handouts, social media posts, brochures, manuals, and more. It may be information that spells out specific points, or it may send readers to another site – such as the event website – where more information can be found. In today’s world of short attention spans, be sure to consider length. How many words do you really need to get the point across? Using the right words, not just more words, can be more impactful.
Need to know, yet engaging. While informative content is typically need-to-know material, ideally it should still be presented in a way that informs and makes a more lasting impression. If the content is more general but important to retain, spicing it up with anecdotes or metaphors can make it more memorable. If it’s more technical, use laymen’s language, bulleted lists, and boxed information to keep readers engaged. Design can also make informative content more memorable, whether it’s a few simple graphic elements that tie a piece to a brand, an app that makes the information easy to access and use, or a colorful and eye-catching infographic that captures the high-level details all in one place.
Collaborative content encourages input and participation from many sources. It’s a great way to engage participants in a positive experience and convince them that you have a must-attend event. Advantages of collaborative content include:
Fresh perspectives. By inviting participants to have a stake in the content of an event, you can gain some fresh perspectives on content and bring people together to share different views on a topic to gain the best input for decision-making.
Inspire ideas, share knowledge. Including collaborative content is a great way to inspire new ideas and/or share knowledge. Set up the event by explaining the objective and potentially naming topics to give participants time to generate ideas for discussion. Consider also including an “open mic” forum later in the event for generating new topics of discussion.
By involving participants in the planning stage, you can even gather input from stakeholders on topics and points of discussion. Set up a website and drive potential participants to it to weigh in on topics or input their own. Once ideas are gathered, set up further discussion to hone topics, or polling to vote on topics. These additional steps can keep participants engaged in the days leading up to the event.
An inviting experience for stakeholders. The type of audience for your event can help determine just how much collaboration should be involved. For instance, an annual meeting of the company’s regional sales professionals would need to be restricted to input from those members of the team, whereas a national gathering of medical professionals would likely include much broader types of input.
Benefits of participation. Make participation in a collaborative content session more inviting with user-friendly platforms. Share with potential attendees the benefit of their participation, and consider ways to incentivize them with prizes, swag, or other rewards. The latter of these is one way to involve sponsors in the event.
Planning, Preparation are Key
Whether informative or collaborative, consider the following when planning and preparing content for your event:
Make it relevant. Online event participants are logging on to learn something new and pertinent to their situation. When planning and preparing content, ensure that it addresses the intended audience and includes the latest information, trends, and best practices.
Determine participants’ needs and wants. How should the content impact participants? Is it something you want to make a great first impression, or something that needs to be remembered for the long-term? Do you want the content to remain internal, or will it make the most impact if shared – and shared broadly? Think about it from perspective of your participants. Maybe you want to honor someone, gather people, make connections happen.
Whatever promise you need to fulfill with your event, be sure your content is geared toward that fulfillment. Now is the time to rethink all your events and really understand their purpose. That will lead you to the best content strategy.