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Online Events: The New Normal

April 22, 2020

Forced to rethink the ways in which we work and live, here’s how companies are embracing new technologies in these difficult times.

Many activities in the real world have ground to a halt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With social distancing the new norm, physical events are clearly a no-go for the foreseeable future. Digital solutions need to be the focus in today’s business environment.

In the sixth episode of The Content Show, CEO Simon Kearney speaks to Timi Siytangco and Kristen Bowen from Branded about taking events online.

Part of Dentsu Aegis Network and founded in 2002, Branded is an event marketing agency that produces live media globally, including conferences, live music festivals, educational academies, and fan events.

With “circuit-breaker” measures being imposed in Singapore to curb the spread of the coronavirus, how has Branded adapted to the shift from doing events in real life to being in an online world?

Catch their conversation here. Prefer to read? Scroll on down!

Offline to online

For Chief Marketing Officer Timi Siytangco, there have been many issues to consider to ensure business continuity.

“We had to figure out priorities around what we needed to invest in digitally, and what could wait. It was really a business decision around that because Branded’s business involves our own live events, but we also have client events. So, there were a lot of things to weigh out.”

Together with Project Director Kristen Bowen, she came together with the rest of the team to strategise what Branded could do for their clients who were going to be home during this period.

Their first foray into this arena came in the form of their pilot LIVE! Matters livestream on how gaming and e-sports brands are engaging fans online in collaboration with gaming streaming platform Twitch.

“Working with partners is a big thing for Branded, so we were very lucky to get Twitch on board as a partner, and what better way to livestream your first event?” says Kristen

Best practices

What does it take, in terms of factors like content and duration, when it comes down to nailing the livestream event?

“We knew that there were a few things we had to get right. We knew that engagement was our number one priority, because all of us would easily drift away from a lot of the events that we watched online. Keeping things short is something that we know works,” explains Timi.

“In the way we structured it [the LIVE! Matters event], we did have three speakers, but each of them had a five to seven minutes chat. And then we jumped very quickly into questions. And that was the other thing that we know works, because the platform was so accessible with a built-in chat that really helped keep the engagement up.”

Kristen adds, “We’ve all been in events where it gets to question time and it’s ‘Oh gosh, come on. Someone, please just raise your hand.’ But in this form, the engagement is just through the roof.”

Figuring out the right platforms

There are plenty of live streaming platform options, so what makes for a right fit?

“Actually, what we’re learning through all of this is there’s no one-size-fits-all platform,” says Timi. “We also probably can’t do with just one. We might need to have a stack of options, depending on the formats we want.”

Referring to the LIVE! Matters livestream, Kristen says: “We also probably could have done with two or three other pieces of technology. So our Q&A, although it worked, was very basic. Getting the Q&A through the live stream worked a treat, but then getting that through to our speakers in the studio — that took a whole other process as well.”

At Click2View, we agree that the technical setup for such livestreams can get quite complicated, so we’ve tried to make it a little easier here.

Moving ahead

“There are so many layers, and we’re all learning. As Timi said, it was an experiment. It worked, but the goalposts are changing every day,” says Kristen.

With online events becoming the new “normal”, companies are moving to re-examine their value proposition to keep up with the times. For companies like Branded that are built on hosting events, live streaming offers an alternative. Apart from ensuring business continuity, streaming platforms like these are also a way to reach out to a wider audience that’s unconstrained by geography.

“We’re up for it, we’re all learning and just taking in all of this new technology,” says Kristen.

Read more from Click2View:

  1. If you didn’t know it yet, 2020 is the year of the webinar.
  2. What’s important in this COVID era? Communication, definitely.
  3. How do you tell stories with data?

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Click2View is Southeast Asia’s premiere full-service independent B2B content marketing agency servicing clients like Microsoft, Google, Visa, Prudential, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.