Virtual Events Are Helping Brands Stay Connected During Social Distancing

A laptop, notebook with pen, eyeglasses, and cell phone on hotel room bed.

Just because brands might not be able to connect with their customers in person during COVID-19, doesn’t mean they can’t stay connected. In this opinion piece WP Engine Country Manager ANZ Mark Randall explains how virtual events are being used.

With the impact of the coronavirus kicking into full gear, the majority of our business plans are feeling the impact. Those who have events scheduled for the next few months will have watched anxiously as company after company canceled their large-scale events; Cisco Live MelbourneE3, and SXSW among the victims.

For those with upcoming events, you’ve essentially got three options: postpone, cancel or go digital. While canceling and postponing may be convenient, I’d urge you to try something new and to challenge your team to go digital. In January of this year, we launched our first virtual conference, Decode 2020, and the result was far more successful than we had anticipated. We are planning to shift our in-person WP Engine US Summit to a virtual event in June. Shifting your conference online isn’t as daunting as it sounds and here are some tips to help set you up for success.  

Engage the right streaming partners

You wouldn’t expect your team to organise an entire conference without the help of contractors or specialists, so don’t take it upon yourselves to shift your conference online without the help of professionals. Coordinating with a streaming technology vendor can help remove the stress of the technical side of things so you can worry about the content and the leads. Work closely with them to understand where potential kinks may arise.

You should also make sure you’re using a content management system that is built for integration from the ground up, like the open source WordPress. Test, test again and then test some more. Once you’re live, there’s little you can do to mitigate tech issues so make you’re built to succeed.

A conference shouldn’t be a lecture

Avoid regurgitating company messages for the entirety of your conference. Viewers shouldn’t feel like they’re joining in on a sales spiel, they should be encouraged to join in on rich conversation with their perspectives. Make your content as interactive as possible, allow for viewers to comment, ask questions and share insight, just as they would at a physical conference. Consider how your content will appear online. Some of the most engaging speaking content is delivered on stage, take TedTalks for example, instead of just webcams. This is a chance to create content that is just as engaging.

Make the most of social media

Taking advantage of social media will ensure your webinar lives on As there is less incentive for attendees (or in this case, viewers) to snap and share what they see, take it upon yourselves to ensure you’re amplifying your content on social.

Take short and sharp highlights of your webinar and capitalise on the reach your social channels have. If you captured thought-provoking content, consider cutting it down into digestible clips and putting some digital ad spend behind it. This will help reinforce your brand’s thought leadership.

Remember to be your own advocate. Gather testimonials from those who tuned in and share their positive feedback on your channels. This will encourage others to interact with your digital content and attend your events in the future.

Despite the difficult circumstances, there is an opportunity to adapt and learn when it comes to streaming your events. Take this as a chance to be bold, stand out, and try something new.


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