After nearly three months of lockdown, people are starting to tire of the same-ness of much of the content they’re being offered in webinars and online topic discussions, as well as the same-ness of the look-and-feel of the events they sign up for online.
It is going to become increasingly difficult for brands to engage online if they do not up the ante with what they present, and how they go about it. A successful online event is so much more than inviting clients and prospects to click on a Zoom link to participate, and unless businesses approach online events with the same level of commitment as traditional ones, they’ll find early audiences waning as they become more judicious about how they spend their time online.
With more than 40 online events already presented on behalf of clients since mid-April, Arena Events has been taking previous physically attended conferences, summits, exhibitions, product launches, consumer activations and awards celebrations, and transitioning them to the online space. The online events presented by Arena, in association with partners and sponsors, have thus far attracted more than 70 000 live online viewers – far greater than the number of delegates that would have been catered for at conventional in person gatherings.
Drawing online audiences
The ability to innovate during a time of rapid change speaks to the agility of Arena, which for years has managed some of the country’s highest profile events including The Radio Awards, The Directors Event, Sunday Times Top 100 Companies, Sunday Times Top Brands, Sunday Times Gen Next, Absa Business Day Supplier Development Awards, and Standard Bank SME Summit, among others.
We’re backed by the news titles in the Arena Holdings group, which gives us access to editors who guide in the development of gripping conversation around newsworthy issues. We’re also able to leverage the credibility of our titles and their relationships with high profile personalities in business, lifestyle, and entertainment to ensure audiences feel compelled to login and engage.”
One of our strongest USPs is being able to leverage the audiences of our news and lifestyle titles that promote our branded events to their millions of online readers.
As everyone is finding out, going online requires far more than simply trying to replicate what people would experience at physically attended events. It requires a lot of innovation and lateral thinking to deliver something effective and engaging in the digital space, to match – if not exceed – the excitement that in-person events offer.
Attending a conference, product launch, gala dinner or awards ceremony is something people look forward to – it’s an opportunity to network, dress-up, and leave with new ideas and insights. For these reasons, people are more inclined to step out of their work environment – often for a full day – to immerse themselves at an event. But, in the online space it’s even more of a creative challenge to present a traditional five-hour conference. This is where we’ve really had to apply innovation to deliver value,” says Westoby.
Keeping people logged in
As such, Arena is tackling traditional events that would happen on a single day by re-shaping them into a series of live online experiences, and presenting many of them in bite-sized chunks that people can participate in from their desktops and other mobile devices.
An hour is probably the maximum time people can be expected to remain engaged with content in one online setting, so we’re scheduling live-streaming episodes at a rate of one or two per week, per series. But we’re also responsive to client imperatives for events that may span a few hours – where their industry is specialised and online delegates are able to commit their attention to more intense engagements for longer.
Currently, Arena is presenting numerous series’ in this manner: the Business Day Dialogues, Absa Business Day Supplier Development Dialogues, Sunday Times Lifestyle How She Does It, Sowetan Women’s Club, Future of Media, S Mag Beauty Talks, Sunday Times Gen Next, Financial Mail AdFocus, The Radio Awards, Herald Business 360, Herald Community Dialogues, Dispatch Dialogues and Financial Mail Redzone.
Similarly, clients are also approaching Arena to manage bespoke events on their behalf by sourcing the content, speakers, creating the look-and-feel, managing the online streaming platform/s, as well as the promotion of their online events.
Like most people we look forward to the day where we can once again start connecting in person at beautiful venues, with delicious catering and chic décor, and where networking face-to-face is possible. There is no doubt that physical gatherings are highly impactful. But right now, we have to focus on presenting an exceptional online experience for brands and their audiences.
The upside is that when society finds its ‘new normal’ we’ll have developed an even stronger offering that seamlessly melds the real and virtual worlds, for high-return marketing campaign investments for our clients.
Here is the line-up being presented by Arena Events.
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