Today's episode focuses on creating content at events. It's one of the hottest trends right now—designing events as content factories and platforms, on which attendees create and share their own experiences.
In this episode, learn about the rise of content, the best ways to harness it and where this red hot trend is headed.
Hey there event marketers, Jessica Heasley here, welcome to another episode of EM all access. Where we connect you with some of the industry's most innovative events and the marketers behind them.
I spoke with GES’ executives, Mark Thomas, John Woo and Jeff Youngs… Let’s listen in.
It seems like events have become content generators for everything from TV ads to social media. Can you talk about the content trend as it relates to the event industry.
John: Content is always being generated, right. I think content has always been key for a long time. I'm not sure if it's a new trend or just the reemergence of people recognizing it again. Because I think there was a lot of experimentation that occurred while defining what an event is but ultimately it goes back to the relevancy of the content right. Like the content is the driver of the experience it needs to drive the event, it needs to give it purpose. And so what is interesting now is that we'd start building experiences into these events it's actually creating more content to be shared, because the audience members are interacting with it. They’re doing something different with it. They are pulling out what they need and then now they're amplifying it and broadcasts other people.
Jeff: Technology and the web has made things so much more accessible that we can take things that have been created for general sessions or break outs and put them online for a fee or for free depending on the audience but that can then help continue to create community or the movement that's being creative with the event between events so that's out there and available to people.
Mark: Looking at that content engine it's not just specifically what happens from a podium microphone from a main stage, it's the entire experience. In creating that content is what's important to the attendee, that's what they take away is so we have to be able to take that to the next level. We have to be able to make that important to that attendee. That's what has to evolve, when a show evolves, and how things happen. So getting the content right means getting the experience right.
Jeff: And that's not just break outs and general sessions and expo and the… it's the spaces in between it’s and it's how they all interact and can come together. That is content and creates content in itself for the attendee.
John: More and more you're seeing a nontraditional way of delivering content of the attendees. Where it's always been, “hey here's a breakdown, here's a general session, here say the sponsor space, where the sponsors are broadcasting their own mini pods of content,” right. I think now you're looking for that looking for that surprising delight of, delivering content in unexpected ways.
Mark: In that contents in shorter bursts as well. It's not an hour and a half sitting behind a microphone and a general session. It could be a tabletop discussion of 5 people or 10 people, about a specific topic. So it's really evaluating what that content is and how it aligns with the audience. If you're working with a financial company it might be a different delivery method. If you're working with a millennial crowd it's a much different delivery method. So we have to adapt those delivery methods based on the crowd and the attendee, to create that single experience.
John: Yeah, like for example we took an idea of financial services, which is fully dry, right, talking about owning vs. leasing, and we turned it into a football game, and we created a 16-foot foosball table, and we overlaid what it really meant to lease vs own, and put in the financial services in there, and we brought people into work collaboratively, to get the ball to the goal. Of being successfully managing your financial future. So is taking cont. you know it's a different way of delivering the content in a more engaging, type, learning experience.
Jeff: Epic events are built on little bits of micro content, that are happening all throughout, the entire experience of the event. And those little micro bits are the ones that work really well, as you send it out to the web and those kinds of places. It's kind of like these little and programs we are creating here. Are short and sweet and to the point, same thing for content in, in an event it's short sweet and to the point and easily carry able to another place, for another thing…
John: Also, consumable. You know, we want to be able to digest our information, and twitter bite feeds now right. Because it also has to stay memorable right how do you do that in a distinct way. You can add more stuff to it, but it's harder to simplify a message. it's harder to simplify an experience, so that it becomes much more easy for the person you're sharing it with to consume.
Have attendees become the primary or the secondary sharers of this content, and with that in mind how/are you creating events while thinking strategically about who's going to share it and how?
Jeff: It depends on the event, the audience, all of those things, impact whether they are primary or secondary, creator of content. I mean many events require the participants to create/crowdsource content, and you know, what lives beyond the event, is going to depend on the event and the audience that you're trying to reach.
John: Yeah, and I think they actually wind up taking turns, right. Because you're trying to say one or the other but throughout the entire life of the event, different moments in time pushes people into that seat, that driver seat, right. Where they may be the primary, content generator. And the other time there is broadcasting it. So it does become very dynamic in that interaction, and you kind of want that to occur, because then it becomes a conversation. It's a conversation between the attendee and the message that you are trying to promote. Rather than, the always one directional kind of broadcast, and then amplification.
So where do we think this content trend is headed, what's the next iteration or evolution of event content?
Mark: The content evolution is really going to be dependent on the attendee. How are they going to evolve, how are we going to adapt to what their needs are, how is technology changing for what the attendee is looking for.
John: The way the content is being delivered is going to get shorter and shorter. So, smaller bites right. I actually think that, not just because attention span, but also it's just simplification, right. Sometimes delivering a long keynote may be effective. but then I actually feel like it's getting more compressed, like um, there's like a trend of making it so that it's easier to digest and easy to share and I don't want to say sound bites or Twitter feeds, but you know, I think it's kind of pushing towards that. Everybody wants to do more of a, “hey here's my Pinterest board,” right, and pull that out and show you what that is. Because it illustrates something more. Where before, we would have a wall of information on a graph. Now we have an infographic that tells you the same information, right, instead of reading all the text. People want to kind of spoon fed to them sometimes, when you're going through a lot of experiences, because it helps you cut through the clutter, right. And we leverage design, and we leverage design thinking, and we leverage human experiences to kind of help facilitate those conversations. So i think you are going to see more and more of that. Where content is being maybe carved up and delivering different segments of time and sprinkled throughout the event. Rather than being delivered all at once.
Content has always been king in the event industry. But now it's becoming an even larger part of both the strategy and a long-term engagement between the brand and the customer. The right content drives an event and gives that purpose. And the best events, drive content creation and distribution. I'd like to thank; Mark, Jeff and John for joining me, and you for watching.
Learn more about GES’ top influencers and problem solvers through our in-depth EM All Access video series on thought leadership.
About the Author
Jeff Youngs is Vice President of Production and Operations for GES’ Corporate Events team. Youngs brings more than 30 years’ experience producing live corporate events including general sessions, sales meetings, product launches, and training seminars. A storyteller at heart, Jeff blends his extensive leadership in effective production process with his focus on delivering strong brand messages in an interactive and engaging environment.More Content by Jeff Youngs