How We Engaged 70,000 Tech Professionals at a Virtual User Conference – Case Study

November 17, 2017

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How do you make 70,000+ data professionals at a virtual user conference feel like they are face to face? To make it happen, a data and AI technology company partnered with Stova to host their 2020 user conference on our virtual event platform. The 2020 Spark + AI Summit was a global, 5-day virtual event with 200+ sessions, 19 visionary keynote speakers, and dozens of other thought leaders.

Goals of the Event

An important goal for this customer was to create the same personalized, face-to-face connections that their attendees experienced at their in-person event.

Another was to sustain high levels of engagement and participation across the entire virtual event, preventing the “drop-off” that can occur after the first day.

Our Virtual Engagement Strategy

How did we make 70,000 people feel like they were in the same room?

The first step was that our customer knew their target audience. This was critical because different event audiences often have different motivators. What appeals to one audience won’t necessarily appeal to another.

Our customer knew one thing that tech professionals love about user conferences (other than content about data and coding) is the swag. Tech people love going into the expo hall to visit exhibitors and fill up their swag bag. Another thing they love to do is seek advice from peers on how to problem solve.

Setting the bar high, we worked with our customer to create a customized, virtual environment of “hot activities” that their attendees would naturally gravitate toward at an on-site user conference.

To keep attendees excited and motivated for all 5 days, we tied the “hot activities” with a points-based gamification engine and an interactive swag store.

When attendees engaged in certain behaviors or actions within the virtual platform, they unlocked points. The points were then exchanged for digital currency to purchase cool swag in the swag store.

How Did Attendees Earn Points with Gamification?

Attendees earned points from:

  • Completing their profile
  • Checking into sessions
  • Uploading a photo
  • Clicking on a sponsor ad
  • Visiting a networking room
  • Asking a question
  • Posting a chat message
  • Completing a poll
  • Posting on the event social wall
  • Attending an exhibitor’s live office hours
  • Downloading sponsor content
  • Other customized behaviors

Engaging Activities to Lift the Overall Attendee Experience

We knew that gamification alone would not be enough to meet our customer’s engagement goals.  We worked with them to create a number of activities to lift the overall virtual experience and .

  • One-on-One Video Calls within the Platform – We made it easy for attendees to start up conversations and network with each other. With an AI engine, we recommended like-minded individuals to network with.
  • Content Discovery – We recommended content to attendees based on their interests and rewarded them for consuming more content (similar to Amazon and Netflix recommending content based on likes and purchases).
  • Birds of a Feather Networking Rooms  Remember what we said about tech attendees seeking advice to problem-solve? In these networking rooms, professionals gathered in groups of 5 to discuss their favorite data topics and gain advice from their peers.
  • Social Wall with Twitter Integration – We integrated the social wall to pull in cards from Twitter to amplify attendee sentiment both on and off the virtual platform in real-time. With this amplification of positive sentiment, participation rates skyrocketed.
  • Virtual After Party with Live DJ – We recreated the and of day event, “after-party” which attendees raved about on Twitter.
  • Exhibitor Office Hours – We recreated the face-to-face exhibit experience. Exhibitor representatives were able “go live” with office hours which in tandem with gamification, drove more interest and traffic to the exhibit hall.

The Results

Our client was thrilled by the overall event and the high-levels of audience engagement. As a result of our efforts, over 90% of attendees participated in the gamification. Instead of engagement levels dropping on a daily basis, we reversed the curve. Analytics demonstrated attendee engagement rates remained as high on day 5 as they were on day one.

Even more telling, the Net Promoter Score, a measure of intent to recommend, was a whopping 66. This is double the industry benchmark for a live streaming environment.

By knowing their audience and recreating the personalized, face-to-face activities that attendees love at in-person events, our client was able to elevate the overall virtual experience and set a benchmark for all large, virtual tech user conferences.

Key Takeaways

We’ve learned through our experience this virtual event that platform features alone are not enough to drive sustained engagement. To successfully recreate face-to-face experiences on a large scale, it’s critical to first know your attendees and what motivates them. Then, build those activities into your virtual event and use gamification to drive participation. Consider it a winning strategy for both you and your audience.

What Does this Mean for You?

This client’s user conference is not an isolated success. Stova has provided similar virtual solutions where attendees feel like they’re attending face-to-face. With our extensive virtual experience helping fortune 500 companies solve some of the biggest virtual (and now hybrid) challenges, we can offer customized advice and solutions to meet your individual event goals. If you’re looking to use gamification to create sustained, personalized engagement at your next event, you’ll be thrilled to learn that Stova can guide you through the entire process of implementing these features.

Contact Stova for a personal consultation.

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