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Hybrid Can Work for Customer Events. Here’s How

A marketing expert says that building community among online attendees is key—and it doesn’t have to involve what’s happening on site at that moment.

While it would seem to make sense that the way for a company to connect most deeply with customer and prospects is through face-to-face interaction, applying a smart approach to serving a simultaneous virtual audience can also get the job done.

So says Jon Reed, a co-founder of the firm diginomica whose specialty is in building online enterprise communities for clients. In fact, he contends in this article on diginomica’s website that while “the live-hybrid aspect isn't easy...there is good news: Most virtual attendees don't expect a full hybrid experience, nor do you have to livestream the entire event for hybrid to work. These [events] don't have to last all day—it’s about structuring a shorter, customer-focused program that has live urgency.”

Specifically, Reed notes that tactics such as combining live and pre-recorded content; having a dedicated online facilitator who encourages a robust chat forum while live speakers are on stage; having your live speakers conduct a Q&A with virtual attendees right after they walk off stage; and having product leads conduct virtual-only sessions on an unused stage while other live content is happening, are all effective ways to connect strongly with customers and prospects, and to get them to learn from each other—which is something they want from events.

One other strong point that Reed makes: “The benefit of nailing down your hybrid structures is that you can then apply them to your virtual-only events, keeping your audiences better connected throughout the year. You can even re-invent your (probably stale) webinar series with these techniques.”

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