Here’s some food for thought from the 2012 Meeting Professionals International Foundation study on hybrid events: 70 percent of the 1,800 respondents said that hybrid events are important to the future of meetings, but 50 percent had never organized one.
Those stats underscore the potential importance of one of the meetings industry’s newest certifications—the Digital Event Strategist. Launched in 2012 by The Virtual Edge Institute, the DES certification program educates meeting professionals in the art and science of digital events—both hybrid and fully virtual—with a 16-module online learning program, followed by an exam.
In early 2013, JoAnn Klinedinst, vice president of professional development for Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and Rick Naylor, president and CEO of Toronto-based meeting and events production company Accucom Corporate Communications, became the first to earn the certification. Today, more than 30 people hold the DES designation and about 100 candidates are working toward it.
How’s your virtual meeting knowledge? Test yourself and find out. Here’s a taste of the kinds of questions on the DES exam.
1. From the Forrester Behavioral Categories, about 70 percent of a digital audience will be made up of:
a. Creators and Conversationalists
b. Critics and Collectors
c. Joiners and Spectators
d. Conversationalists and Joiners
2. Which of the following statements about the attendee experience mapping process is most accurate?
a. The process focuses on the tactical elements that maximize attendee satisfaction.
b. The process provides a clear roadmap for improving an event in future years.
c. The process ties larger organizational goals to specific tactics used to achieve these goals through the event.
d. The process gives all stakeholders the opportunity to agree on the structure and execution of an event.
3. The three types of attendees for your hybrid event are:
a. Face-to-face, virtual, and hybrid.
b. Live audience, on-demand audience, and chat audience.
c. Face-to-face, remote, and click-bys.
d. Synchronous, asynchronous, and on-demand.
4. The role of social media is to drive engagement and focused discussions before, during, and after a digital event.
5. A hybrid audience acquisition campaign should start:
a. 6-8 weeks out so there is plenty of time for articulating the hybrid message
b. 4-6 weeks out when more hybrid details are known and can be relayed
c. 2-4 weeks out so there’s urgency to the message
d. 2 weeks out so as not to jeopardize the physical registrations
6. How do you know when your audience needs the member-driven collaboration, expert-finding, and knowledge-sharing capabilities of a community versus the content-driven experience of a one-time virtual event?
a. Attendees continue to chat with one another after the event.
b. The audience responds well to live chat sessions with conference presenters.
c. Audience members need each other's help to solve day-to-day business problems.
d. The audience is using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to talk about your industry.
7. What is the optimal relationship between virtual events and a member-based online community owned by your organization?
a. The virtual event environment provides the platform for a 365-day online community.
b. Virtual event environments and online community platforms are kept separate from each other.
c. Virtual events serve as a content engagement strategy connected to the online community and feed it by pulling in new members and re-engaging existing members.
8. What is the best way to get people to view on-demand content?
a. Use games and quizzes to keep people engaged.
b. Have pre-recorded interviews with subject-matter experts.
c. Invite people to watch “scheduled content” (that is, content that is captured and rebroadcasted at a designated time) with live, moderated chats.
d. Use collaboration tools to enable sharing.
9. How much of their allotted time should speakers allow for the physical and virtual audiences to get questions answered and to review key learning?
a. 10 minutes
b. 1/3 of the session
c. 20 minutes
d. 1/4 of the session
1. c. Joiners and Spectators. Forrester's Behavioral Categories classifies consumers into seven overlapping levels of social technology participation.
2. c. The process ties larger organizational goals to specific tactics used to achieve these goals through the event. The attendee experience mapping process was developed by Lynn Randall for the DES course. The process maps the goals and objectives of your organization to specific actions you want attendees to take, and how you want them to think and feel when they leave your event. It is important to identify the tools and techniques that will ensure success.
3. c. Face-to-face, remote, and click-bys. Click-bys are those individuals who find the event via social media. They follow the event posts on Twitter or Facebook and start obtaining content, but are not attending in person or online.
4. a. True
5. a. 6-8 weeks out so there’s plenty of time for articulating the hybrid message
6. c. Audience members need each other's help to solve day-to-day business problems
7. c. Virtual events serve as a content engagement strategy connected to the online community and feed it by pulling in new members and re-engaging existing members.
8. c. Invite people to watch scheduled content and live, moderated chats.
9. b. 1/3 of the session
Prerequisites for the Digital Event Strategist Exam
To sit for the DES exam, applicants must:
• Be currently or recently (within 12 months) working in events, meetings, marketing, conventions, or learning industries.
• Have three years of experience in events, meetings, marketing, conventions, or learning industries or be a member of a professional association in one of those fields.
• Have experience in various virtual and digital environments. Experience may include attending, producing, or exhibiting in online events or meetings.
• Have 25 hours of digital event–related continuing education in 16 key "areas of focus" within 12 months of application. Programming may include online and/or on-site education, and completing the DES online course will fulfill 16 hours toward the requirement.
The costs of the Digital Event Strategist certification include:
Application Fee: $175
Course Fee: $595
Exam fee: $325