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Virtual Events: Where Three Minutes Matters the Most

By Billy Jennings on 4/12/22

Referencing If You Market Podcast Episode #159: Virtual Event, Who Cares?, with Julius Solaris

On this episode of the If You Market podcast, Sky sat down with Julius Solaris, Marketing Vice President of Hopin. Virtual events were the main topic of the speakers’ talks, as well as why they might not have the popularity and effectiveness one might expect as the rest of the world seems to move deeper into the metaverse by the day. Julius also offered advice on how to manage a worthwhile virtual event.

In the wake of the pandemic, many of our daily activities are now conducted online. Work meetings, classes, job interviews – nearly everything has moved online! What if I told you that virtual events were already prevalent even before the pandemic? In fact, they did, but not at the same level of use as today. As Julius mentions, there has been or is still a boom related to the use of virtual platforms, which is why Hopin themselves have released more than 165 new features over the past year to keep up with the ever-evolving technology and demands of an increased number of participants whose needs are always changing.

Even so, we cannot ignore the fact that virtual technology still faces certain challenges- issues that force us to be fluid and adaptable no matter how many updates and revisions we make. This is particularly evident when virtual events can leave us feeling alienated and disconnected from other attendees.. Julius quoted this as the most common failure of the setup. “So the biggest mistake is to think that [it] translates to them online as well. I mean it does to a certain extent but to the same level you would experience like watching a tv show right? So we have to switch the mentality when we go from in-person to virtual from like something from a concert right? Watching the Super Bowl at the stadium in California and having the whole performance to watching it at home right with our friends or whatever by ourselves. It’s a completely different experience. So where we see most failure is like translating one to the other. Well maybe translating the virtual to in-person actually would work better right now because it’s quicker. It’s faster.” 

Another problem is the lack of urgency: with the online setup, we can choose whether we’ll do one particular task or attend an event now or some other time simply because the setup allows us to. With this, Julius encourages the listeners to try and engage more with the people or their target audiences despite the impossibilities present. Making the virtual event inviting, interactive, and generally pro-listeners: “When you connect people that are listening in a virtual platform then you have something that for the marketers listening, that creates a new level of engagement. That creates something that we all feel connected to. It’s stronger than social media where there’s a lot of noise around and like content being pushed at you. It’s more secluded, you control it much better and people can start to interact. So if you have breakout sessions for example with like customers or you know attendees connecting with each other or sponsors driving those conversations, open conversations if you have like polls. Q and A is like ways to engage them. Like networking sessions created that horizontal connection[s]. It is possible to create an event that is both fun and informative without sacrificing either. It will require formulating new ideas and incorporating them into the current technologies to make it happen. Just like Julius said, “The content starts it, the connection sort of finishes.”

Another feature they developed in Hopin for virtual events is a networking shuffle. The feature allows you to meet with another person from the event and talk for three minutes to exchange stories then it is up to the both of you if you want to extend that or not. “We have a module that we call networking shuffle and you can just click on it and you get randomly matched to someone at the event and you connect with them for like three minutes and you can decide to extend it if you want it. That’s a feature, like, literally, I attended an event last week, I spent an hour on it, even meeting people and like I met so many interesting people. Virtual, totally virtual. That’s the thing with hybrid, you can actually do like in person can meet virtual people right and connect. Why say you’re bored like in between sessions in the lounge at an event. Like you go to the app, you get matched to someone that is attending online.” It is an online equivalent of what Sky said as an activity done on some in-person events: “I remember being  at in-person events where they had that in person, there was just a room and they were like everybody sits down here and then you all shift one to the left and talk to the next person. You have three minutes.” 

Julius also gave a bit of personal advice on choosing the people to work on said virtual events: “I feel that if you engage with content creators that really care about the content piece, I feel like you gotta be naturally more exposed to bigger marketing opportunities as opposed to someone that doesn’t have any clue of how content works. You know, I’m not on podcasts like yours to plug Hopin. I don’t care. I mean, I talk about it if I have an example, but like I’m here to share value of stuff that I see, I’m genuinely excited about it and like it’s my passion. I’m a geek of like events and I just like to talk about it for hours, so that’s where my passion started, I guess. Like, more companies are capitalizing on that.” 

Julius emphasized the importance of taking the experience into account for virtual event organizers. In organizing these types of events, we have to keep in mind that some are slow to move and that other people’s time is far more precious than ours. It is our responsibility, and maybe the responsibility of others as well, to ask if our event flow or setlist works – or is at least bearable. At the same time, Sky recommends keeping it simple, much like an in-person event.

Julius Solaris came from Italy and has traveled through multiple countries. He started blogging in the year 2000 and as time passed by realized he has a passion for events. He then moved from media to tech.

Meta Description: In this episode of If You Market marketing podcast, host Sky Cassidy sat down with Julius Solaris of Hopin and tackled virtual events, it’s boom because of the pandemic, and making the time your attendees spend on it worthwhile.