Last week, our team attended HubSpot’s INBOUND 2020, and while normally we’d have team members gearing up to head to the in-person event, this year we all tuned in digitally.
While there were some aspects we missed from previous years, our team was able to not only learn from marketing leaders and industry influencers but also see first-hand how an event can successfully pivot to a digital format.
Keep reading for five examples of what HubSpot did right (and take notes for your next virtual event)!
Social Media Engagement
Before the event even started, social media content was already bustling. In fact, over a month prior to INBOUND 2020, HubSpot was encouraging attendees to join their INBOUND Facebook group. This community platform allowed attendees from all over the world to connect, start conversations, share ideas and more – something that likely wouldn’t have happened at such scale with an in-person event.
In addition to the pre-event online presence, HubSpot was on top of their social media during the event. Their team was actively engaging in the Facebook group by posting questions, announcing upcoming speakers and getting everyone excited for the keynotes.
But, since not everyone is on Facebook, INBOUND’s team also diversified their presence.
Their Instagram work during INBOUND 2020 was fantastic. The INBOUND team posted frequently throughout the day and, more notably, created multiple shareable content pieces. This was an easy way for attendees to share on their Instagram stories what they learned, what speakers they were tuning in to and how they were enjoying INBOUND 2020.
By creating this additional content, they empowered their attendees to serve as virtual influencers for them, helping to spread the word about the event.
Not only did they create great shareable assets, but they had a designated social media team on hand ready to engage with any INBOUND related posts. It didn’t take more than an hour for someone from HubSpot and INBOUND 2020 to like my stories, reply to posts and reshare attendee content to their own page.
If you’re hosting a virtual event and want to use Instagram to help promote it, you can do it without an entire social media team (though we must admit, it does help). Check out our steps for promoting your event on Instagram here.
One of the most fun (or most stressful, depending on who you talk to) parts of attending a conference is planning out your schedule. From reviewing the event map to planning your casual mad dash from one end of the event space to the other, planning can add excitement ahead of the event.
Oftentimes with virtual events, this exciting aspect of the conference is lost. Instead, you can dial into lectures, sit back and, let’s face it, get distracted.
HubSpot broke through this mundaneness by still offering a virtual agenda that was attention-grabbing, dynamic and enticing
Prior to the conference, an email was sent to let registrants know that the schedule was ready and that they could start building their agenda. The scheduling tool did a great job of showcasing events by category, time and day so you could map out exactly when you wanted to tune in. Plus, each event had a detailed description of what you’ll get from each session.
While we would have loved to have seen an Outlook calendar integration (fingers crossed for next year), if you added an event to your agenda, you would get an email reminder right before it started.
Inclusivity and Diversity
One of my personal favorite aspects of INBOUND 2020 was HubSpot’s inclusivity and diversity effort.
INBOUND made multiple statements on their commitment to being an inclusive, safe space “for all attendees, regardless of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, race, nationality, ethnicity, disability, medical conditions, religion (or lack thereof), physical appearance, politics, or ideology.” But a statement is only strong if an organization stands by it.
When first logging in to the event and adding your personal information and creating your avatar, there was an option to select your pronouns with a wide range of options.
Once you entered the virtual conference community, a Black Lives Matter message was predominantly on one of the structures. There were also multiple events discussing how to create inclusive environments.
For example, attendees could join Imani Ellis for “A Discussion on Cultivating Culture & Community,” attend a live event with Trina Sanders for “A Discussion on Inclusive Spaces” or tune in for “A Discussion on Identity with Cole Brown,” just to name a few.
By following through on their commitment to inclusivity and diversity with dedicated events, inclusive spaces and speakers from diverse backgrounds, HubSpot was able to back their statement with action.
Virtual Map and Community
One of the downfalls of virtual events is missing out on the perceived community experience or the excitement of traveling. HubSpot recognized this and created a digital event platform that included a virtual map, avatars and interactive components.
While this doesn’t necessarily change the fact that many attendees tuned in from their home office, it does add dimension beyond back-to-back video calls.
The added components of the prominent chat functionality on live events, reply and conversational elements and the dynamic presentation formats beyond just a full screen video of someone talking at you also helped create the feeling of a robust experience.
Post-Session Debrief Series and On-Demand Content
Staying tuned in for an all-day virtual event can be difficult. You know it. I know it. And, apparently, HubSpot knows it.
By creating post-session debrief series that allow you to quickly grab highlights from events, they make it easy to catch-up on the items you may have missed while your child needed to borrow the computer for e-learning. And the on-demand full videos from each section make it simple to see what was happening while you were walking the dogs (I would know).
By making it possible to see what you missed after an event, HubSpot takes what could have been a negative – not being able to have an event fully live in the moment – and find the silver lining of creating more accessible online content.
Learning From Others’ Successes
While there’s no true playbook for creating the perfect digital event, it’s important to pay attention to what others are doing well. While there were still some hiccups and areas for improvement, HubSpot’s INBOUND 2020 showcases how pivoting to a virtual conference can be done in a way that doesn’t ruin an attendee’s experience.
Need help navigating your own virtual conference? We know a team that can help you with your strategy and marketing.