Ironically enough, I have written about virtual events and conferences for years. Yet up until yesterday, I had never actually participated in such a gathering—a poorly cut corner by me as a marketer—because, let’s face it, demoing the products you will be writing about before putting pen to paper is critical. But, hey… the day slips away from all of us from time to time, right?
So you can imagine how incredibly excited I was to attend my very first virtual conference yesterday, ContentTECH, which was sponsored by the Content Marketing Institute. So excited in fact that I ran a test on my computer two hours in advance to make sure everything would run flawlessly, created a schedule of every session I wanted to attend, and had a little too much fun—OK a lot of fun—letting my coworkers know that I was “heading into a session” and “making my way to the keynote room.”
They event was truly awe-inspiring. I was blown away by the ease of use of the platform, by the life that characterized the cyber event, and by the subject matter expertise demonstrated by each and every presenter. And the little touches were certainly not lost on me. For example, this virtual event boasted all the necessary components of a live event such as: the exhibit hall, replete with virtual booths, company representatives and branding; the auditorium, featuring the keynotes for the day (some of whom live streamed their sessions right from their offices); and the networking lounge, made complete with virtual chats and instant messaging capabilities that enabled you to effortlessly communicate with those time zones away.
To be honest, I had my doubts as to what I would get out of a virtual event. I questioned whether it would hold my attention span, whether I would in fact be able to network, and whether technology would hamper the flow of the day.
I could not have been more wrong. Not only did I come out of the day with cutting-edge content marketing strategies to bring back to our team and clients, but I also came out of the event with a host of new Twitter followers and pages of copious notes. All in all, it was six hours of my day that were well spent.
So what can marketers take away from my inaugural experience with virtual events? That oftentimes the best outcomes result from those ventures that make us the most uncomfortable. For example, are you worried that your white paper won’t garner the leads you need? Then spend a little extra time in development to make sure it is riveting instead of abandoning the idea. Concerned that your blog will never give you the ROI you need to offset the amount of resources spent maintaining it? Then invest in a stronger editorial team.
The answers are there, and there’s a reason these cutting-edge tactics are spreading like wildfire. So don’t let your discomfort for something new result in you pumping the brakes on something that could truly be game-changing for your organization. Rather, embrace the discomfort, strategize harder, and let innovation soar.