In order to develop and design the structure of your virtual event website, you need to first figure out your content and how to frame it. Going back to the flipped golden rule we mentioned in the second blog of this series, how your audience prefers to consume their content will help you determine the ‘container’ you need to build.
Because there’s lots of different ways to slice and dice the term, ‘content,’ we’re first going to share some agreed upon language for types of content.
One of the ways we can do that is to separate the content types into a few different categories. Now, there are a myriad of ways I’ve seen of content broken into categories, but we’re going to use the one that we like best. (If you’ve been through some other webinars on virtual events, you may see different ways of defining content, or see the definitions that I’m about to throw out used differently. That’s fine; each of us content strategists use a variation and personalize our terminology.)
For virtual events, we define content as passive versus active, and scheduled versus free flow. Looking at how these vary, often we want to keep things straightforward and black-and-white, putting content into one of two buckets…but it doesn’t really work like that. Content often fits in more than one bucket, and so it’s more important to think of variations like digital tags. All content can be tagged with more than one tag.
For example, look at a live webinar. It isn’t timeless—it only happens at a scheduled time. If you’re not there, it isn’t a live webinar. However, webinars in a lot of ways are extremely passive. As a presenter, we can look at the analytics of a webinar we’re livestreaming and see what percentage of the audience have a different screen loaded up and are working on something else at the same time as watching the webinar. These people are listening, we assume, but they’re working on something else. But a webinar can also be active. When polls are launched or the presenter asks for hand raises, the audience is being involved, and are actively clicking on things. Questions are sent in as they’ve come to mind, and some attendees have been actively engaged the entire time, ignoring emails, texts, instant messages, kids walking in to home offices, and so on.
A PDF or a video file can be passive content. Conversely, a 3D product demonstration or a 360-degree video tour tool, although completely free flow in feel, can require heavy engagement, so we’d consider it active. However, a live-hosted, hands-on product demo from a sales person in a small chat room needs to be scheduled and is also active.
Isn’t content fun?
Here’s just the beginnings of a ‘list’ of content types:
- Chat rooms
- PDF downloads
- Virtual tours
- Augmented reality
- One-on-one calls
- Image slideshows
- Virtual Products
- Interactive games
- Virtual lunch
- Keynote presentations
- Note panels
- Image galleries
- Offline tie-ins
- 3D Tours
- Virtual product presentations
- Electronic sales
- Gated content
- Simulated webinars
As you can see, there’s a lot here, and depending on your initial goals and objectives, as well as the content that you have already, some of these may be appropriate, where others won’t be.
The sky is the limit. In fact, determining virtual event content feels like a daunting task for many; it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the different possibilities. That’s why you need to start with your objectives, and the content you already have in your marketing communications archive, before starting to plan on how to frame your content into the website. Working from the containers first is an almost impossible task—the containers are limitless! That’s why this section is just called, “Framing the Content.” Remember, content is king; the frames are not.
Something important to note: We all want something cool and flashy, our brand’s ‘it’ factor needs to come through and be felt through the screen, and we don’t want to present something without a big ‘WOW’ factor. However, at the end of the day, the content’s value comes from what that audience can take away. So maybe the cool 3D-rendered spinning booth is exactly what you need. But, maybe the streamlined linear website with only one main graphic is a better container for your content.
If you take away one thing from this entire blog series, remember this: A virtual event is thrown by you for your customers. Not for you.