Brands, artists, businesses, entertainers have all traded in physical events with virtual ones to accommodate our new reality with the pandemic, with more or less success. It remains a place of potential (and necessity) for marketers to experiment and learn.
That being said, events are now quintessential to the social marketing era where the places communities and individuals meet become more precious and their connections and sharing behaviour more powerful, branded or not. A good event is, more than ever, a social experience that puts its people first.
Here are our picks of virtual events that may be laying the groundwork for bigger and better socially-led events to come.
The obvious advantage of a virtual event is that, compared to a physical one, there is no limit in terms of capacity. Obviously, there are some technical compromises to take into consideration but the number of participants is really up to the organizer. There is also the question of where the participants are from. Virtual events break boundaries and can turn an originally local convention into a global symposium, requiring way less equipment and means.
Take Jean-Michel Jarre’s 2020 NYE virtual concert for example: the show, set in a virtually recreated Notre-Dame de Paris, was available to VR headset owners through platforms like VRChat and Oculus Venues for a truly immersive experience. Most importantly, it was broadcasted on multiple social platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Weibo, Bilibili, and Douyin) in addition to TV and radio. This resulted in a whopping performance with 75 million viewers globally.
Virtual worlds can fundamentally free every constraint of our physical one. The experiences that can be built and shared place interactivity and memorability at the center. Want an event in a zero-gravity setting? You can do it. Want people to be immersed in a fantasy world? You can do that too. A good way to start is to look at what gaming is doing and how game designers are able to engage players with compelling mechanics. There is also no limit to the environment and number of activities you can propose to your audience.
Last October, the smartphone brand OnePlus launched OnePlus World to launch their latest model. The immaculate virtual world (stacked with giant OnePlus accessories as installations and architecture) welcomed participants to explore, play games, peruse an artist gallery, and of course, watch the keynote presentation in a simulated auditorium.
Once you have made all the effort to create a virtual event, why destroy it? You don’t really need to clear up the space for another brand. This means that everything you created is sustainable and results indefinitely. A virtual event could very well be a recurring one or a permanent one, allowing the brand to engage with an audience long term.
ComplexLand is the digital version of ComplexCon, a place where streetwear lovers can buy exclusive gear, listen to live music, and eat at fancy food trucks. This event was only supposed to be live for a week but its creators are now planning to maintain ComplexLand as a permanent virtual space for subsequent events.
As the pandemic and our newfound realities remain, we’re likely to see more of these virtual events crop up in 2021. It’ll certainly be interesting to see if physical events (and our confidence in attending them safely) will make a comeback or whether the virtual ones will take over for good.