This guest blog is written by Charles Thiede, CEO & Co-Founder of Zapnito, a partner in the Silverchair Universe program.

The current situation we find ourselves in means drastic changes for the way we live. One such change is social distancing, which means that many events are being called off. This is of course hitting big events organizers hard, but also publishers and societies that rely on events to drive awareness and leads, and build relationships with their community.
Many such organizations are now looking to digital solutions to honor delegate and sponsor commitments. In doing so they protect their revenue, but also maintain relationships, brand value and continuity.

The general consensus seems to be that an event held online is some kind of consolation prize - that it is a back up plan. But in many ways, the user experience is better online than it is in-person.

Remember when people only watched TV episodes at a certain time on a certain day? Now, on-demand services like Netflix have revolutionized this, and nobody is looking back. Or when retailers were reluctant to go online? Now bricks-and-mortar stores co-exist with online shopping. It is understood that they serve two different, but equally important, purposes. So why are we still so afraid of it in the events space?

There are several reasons why online-only events are preferable to live events. Here’s our run-through of ten of them.

    1. Better learning - When learning online, your attendees will have had time to read the pre-editorial content, so they’re coming to your event already primed and prepared. Plus, if they need to rewind certain sections or pause to go to the bathroom, that’s all possible when running an online event community.  
    2. Better networking - Online event communities work for every kind of networker, including, vitally, introverts who won’t otherwise venture to an in-person event (or would, at least, feel uncomfortable). You can see exactly who turned up, send them follow-ups to engage with them post-event plus there are no awkward introductions or silences. 
    3. Improved engagement - We’ve all had those event experiences where we’ve wanted to correct someone on a panel, tried to ask a question in a busy Q&A, or wanted to wait behind to connect with a speaker, but didn’t have the time or opportunity. With online event communities, this isn’t an issue. Everyone can engage with what’s happening, their peers and expert speakers. 
    4. No physical constraints -  When an event is hosted online, your attendees can come from anywhere in the world. This opens up your potential delegate base, making it accessible to infinitely more. (Plus, they don’t have to put up with substandard hotels, queueing for buffet lunches and freezing cold plenary rooms.)
    5. Sponsorship - Even your sponsors will find online event communities more effective at building relationships and leads. There are no awkward on-stand interactions, and sponsors can talk to precisely who they want to. Finding the most effective ways to engage, whether that’s messaging, a video chat or sharing content.
    6. No FOMO - Attendees don’t have to choose one session over another, or try to juggle a packed timetable of talks and business meetings. When your event is online, they can engage with everything and everyone they need to. 
    7. Speaker perks - For speakers, an online event community is an effective way to reach a wider audience and build relationships with peers across the world. Their message can be spread far and wide, to audiences that are really engaged, keen to learn and eager to spark discussions afterwards. Creating an environment where everyone shares their learnings and knowledge and leaves, post-event, with plenty of inspiration and connections.
    8. Long-lasting relationships and engagement - With a dedicated online community platform like Zapnito, the relationships you build at an event can be carried on well after it has ended. There are clear routes to engage and continue the conversation, whether that’s through sharing content, chatting about a talk or connecting with a speaker’s online profile and articles. Plus, because the Internet is 24/7, you can chat with your peers whenever and wherever you like. 
    9. Detailed analytics - With an online event community, organizers can collect more data about which speakers and content are resonating. They generate better insight, as you can clearly identify which sub-groups, job titles and individuals were interested in a particular session, video or article. This can be used to inform future events as well as your attendee engagement plan. 
    10. A resilient system - As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has highlighted, event organizers need to be agile in how they deliver their expertise. Online communities in the event space are going from a should-have to a must-have.

How Zapnito can help

Zapnito facilitates online and in-person events by cultivating the expert communities around them. So, organizations can create meaningful connections with attendees, industry experts and speakers that exist beyond the event date itself. Zapnito takes a people-centric approach that believes in helping organizations and humans to connect and engage with each other over the long-term.

To learn more about how Zapnito can support both your online and in-person events. Contact our expert team now: contact@zapnito.com. 

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