Most virtual events suck. Produced ones don’t. Here’s why.


Live coverage for brands at events is kind of our thing. When COVID-19 hit and physical events stopped, we knew we had to adapt our coverage model.

Photography, interviews and live coverage are legit challenging when nobody meets in person. Zoom fatigue is a real threat for getting an audience to attend, and stay online.

One solution working for us is virtual events — which are decidedly distinct from webinars.

In the last month we’ve produced virtual events and done digital marketing event coverage in Canada and the U.S. for big, global audiences. These involved hundreds of speakers, 25,000+ attendees and a variety of social activities.

Here’s our biggest takeaway: To make the audience experience not suck is to produce a virtual event like a TV broadcast.

Here are three ways to make that happen:

  1. Move at the speed of TV. You need multiple speakers or guests, ditch the slide decks and if you show video, use a lot of b-roll and variety. In broadcast worlds, pictures move every three seconds to keep the audience’s attention.
  2. Think in segments. Break up a one-hour discussion into a two- or three-part experience. The audience is more likely to stick around knowing a change or new material is coming. Forget the monotony of one subject with one speaker and one slide deck for an hour. (Yawn.) Consider breaking up your segments with pre-produced video so your audience doesn’t get bored of the talking heads.
  3. Remember the second screen. Virtual audiences are endlessly distracted by everything in the WFH environment. To draw them in and keep them, publish key takeaways in social media during your virtual event with links back to watch a replay or join live. You can’t force your audience to pay attention, so give them something to talk about, like, retweet or share while they are concurrently attending your virtual event.

Jameela Ghann

Selling to your audience online

When COVID-19 hit, there was a race to get bricks-and-mortar stores online.

For Jameela Ghann, launching a store online quickly means making choices about how you will show up for your audience and how you need to communicate to them. As founder of she[EMPOWERS], Jameela helps Shopify store owners optimize stores for conversions and get the right traffic through paid social.

Some of the things she recommends:

  1. Be selective of what you sell online so you can offer your audience incentives. For example, list your best-sellers and products that don’t weigh a lot but have high margins so you can offer shipping for free.
  2. Going online can change where your audience comes from. Jameela focused on marketing to the the U.S. rather than only her local Calgary shoppers.
  3. The best eCommerce stores are ones who treat their social media audiences as part of their community, or family. Design your online store customer journey as you would if you were talking to them in person in a store.

For more eCommerce advice, tune into this podcast interview between Jameela and Tyler Chisholm on CollisionsYYC.

Content Worth Your Time

We all need more good news these days. For at least two million of us, the recent source of said amazingness is John Krasinski’s Some Good News. 

If you haven’t seen the show, it debuted on YouTube on March 29 with a focus on telling good news stories. After eight episodes it amassed millions of subscribers and spurred a bidding war before being picked up by ViacomCBS.

So why do we care? As Scott Aughtmon notes, audiences respond to hopeful, positive, and fun content. The formula to retain the audience was being consistent and sharing good news, giving examples from different places with different people, and the audience became part of the programming.

There are multiple audience-focused content marketing lessons here and Scott lays it out well. Read more.

This content originally appeared in our weekly newsletter called TARGET:AUDIENCE where we explore ways to find, understand, grow, engage and inspire digital audiences — so you don’t have to. Want this in your inbox? Signup below