Today I had a luxury of attending most of a virtual conference first time. MarketingProfs’ Virtual Conference – Digital Marketing World. Last year I would log in for a few minutes, or just review something in recording… “walk” through an empty lounge… or download a white paper or two from an unattended booth… (the booth’s owner follow up would still find me…)
Virtual conference is more useful and engaging while it is live. Particularly interesting:
- Communicating with the other attendees before the conference, while everybody is trying to find their local or specialty counterparts.
- Twitter name exchange… interesting – people are eager to post their twitter name everywhere (it is not as guarded as an e-mail address)… but I think I gained a follower too 🙂
- Ability to follow not only chats on the conference web site, but also reviews of the conference on Twitter. Though sometimes overwhelming… it is quite exciting to see in real time what points of the presentation the rest of the audience found important… And not as rude as during the live event.
- Ability to see opinions of the attendees of the parallel track about the presentation that I missed… Based on these comments, I quickly made the decision if I needed to review the recording
- Oh! I just realized! I forgot my briefcase at the conference… Oops… I will need to go back and pick it up… it is not too far – just a couple of clicks 🙂
I think we, the attendees, were quite confused about some of the virtual trade show rules, that one entrepreneurial and helpful marketer quickly posted “user advice” for a virtual trade show attendees on her blog – thank you!! Of course, I retwitted it during the event 🙂
Virtual conferences are just starting to become a part of the business environment… and I see a few advantages and a couple of changes that will probably come in the future…
- Everybody has a profile and no company would need to manually “enter” business cards left in the booth into the database. Marketer’s dreams come true!
- The “evaluations” of the conference sessions are not necessary – if may be impolite to leave the auditorium during a live presentation of a disappointing speaker, but clicking “lounge” button after a few boring minutes of online presentation is quite OK
- All the materials are in the “briefcase,” that can be picked up any time… or forgotten at the event… 😉
- I think virtual conferences are at the period of the development where web sites were about 10 years ago (I still remember infamous “guest books” 🙂 ). At that period of time, true potential of interactive marketing was not discovered yet, and the sites resembled print brochures. But in a few years everything changed. Something similar will probably happen with virtual convergences. Right now too much effort (graphics, space, etc.) is expanded to “recreate” the atmosphere of the real live conference. It might be necessary for the “transition” period, but the use of the space will change. Soon.
- The picture of the realistically looking booth with a city background would probably morph into the company’s logo, pictures of the company’s representatives, and… useful facts and materials for the “booth’s visitor.” The intricate booth design (thought quite interesting for the first time) does not contribute to the satisfaction of the need of the conference attendee – it is not necessary.
- Lounge will probably “learn” to devote more space to the images of currently talking people… Maybe – just maybe – Twitter-type threads? Maybe some “official” method of finding attendees from the same locations or marketing verticals? Thread categories? At the current virtual conference, generic images of the lounge dominated the prime real estate, and the people (who I came to meet 🙂 ) were hidden on the bottom. Ha! The arrangement worked quite effectively anyway – seeing images of others I hurried up to place my picture into my profile 🙂
- Would it be interesting to see fellow attendees during the sessions? Bottom of the screen would be quite nice… Maybe… it depends on privacy and other goals, but we will see… Virtual conferences are here to stay, and it is absolutely wonderful!
- I believe the categories of the virtual conferences will also change soon to a user-centric navigation… It won’t be “auditorium, show floor, lounge” but something closer to “presentations, vendors (or prizes? 🙂 ), networking.” Right now they reflect the “building,” but they will soon reflect “the benefit” that this type of building used to provide for the conference attendee.
Great event! Yes, I had to “bring my own snack” but it was a wonderful opportunity to expand my knowledge in the field of interactive marketing that I love and connect with other enthusiasts. All from my own home computer…. Free. Thank you, MarketingProfs, and, just like everybody else who filled out the survey, I was happy to propose the new tagline for your organization 🙂