Events have been happening on online platforms for quite some time now, but the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic has strongly brought an increase in the number of these so-called "digital events".
Digital workshops, hackathons, webinars, and even political discussions and live shows have started to take the first baby steps towards the "digital event environment".
Professionals from all around the world are currently developing a new working culture (whether they are aware of it or not). Chances are that in the following months, or even years, we will be living in a world with more mandatory home office days and less unnecessary business travels and personal meetings. And now the question arises: How many of these changes are here to stay? Should we really look forward to "going back to normal" or adapt and build new, safer (and maybe even more efficient) ways to work?
Maybe digital events will play an even greater role in our lives in the years to come, whether in professional circumstances or not.
The Pan-European Hackathon: EUvsVirus
The #EUvsVirus hackathon took place on the last weekend of April and united approximately 21.000 participants from all around the world. These people dedicated their time to come up with innovative solutions to problems created (or aggravated) by the COVID crisis. More than 2.100 projects were submitted for the event, distributed between the areas of health and life, business continuity, remote working and education, and some other categories.
The hackathon was a successful digital event. Just like many other digital events that are also being highlighted during these pandemic times, the organizers from the hackathon invited market leaders for online live speeches, communicated only via digital platforms, and had the whole internal communication/organization done via an online communication tool.
Besides coordinating a digital event of that magnitude and achieving such impressive numbers, the #EUvsVirus organizers also took the first step into connecting the virtual experience with a classic feeling from physical events.
The #EUvsVirus hackathon made Virtual Badges available for all their participants in an easy, user-friendly, and social-media-friendly way. These Virtual Badges are very much like physical event badges, or name tags, that participants usually wear around their necks to enter conventions all around the world.
The underlying hypothesis of the development and implementation of this tool was that virtual badges could build a bridge between the known (and comfortable) situation of taking part in a physical event and the uncertainty of engaging in digital events. Sometimes, the feeling of accomplishment brought by online achievements, such as webinars and courses, is shadowed by both lack of recognition and solitude. Humans are known to be social creatures. That's why going through challenges "alone", even though heroic, is not fulfilling.
Therefore, by offering an uncomplicated tool to all participants, the #EUvsVirus hackathon was successful in creating a shared feeling of belongingness for all involved parts at the same time as it established a lean and professional way for their efforts to be acknowledged.
In practice, the Virtual Badges are very simple: Each participant can log in with their email and gain access to the badge, which will automatically be uploaded with their profile picture from LinkedIn (or Facebook, or pretty much any other social media platform selected). The event participants also have the possibility to add more specifications to their badges, which will vary according to each event.
As soon as the #EUvsVirus hackathon made such a tool available, the success rate was undeniable: Within the first 4 days, more than 20% of all event stakeholders downloaded and shared their badges.
These are the download rates from the last day that the Virtual Badges were accessible:
Bringing a more substantial feeling to digital events might become a praxis digital marketing strategy.
It is nothing new that companies spend up to thousands of euros in attempts to drive attention to their events, and the "physical world" event activations will keep on playing a big role in it.
But now, during a COVID pandemic, raising awareness online is the way to go. The Virtual Badge has made it possible for companies to acquire highly relevant traffic. The event participants who share their badges, show their pride in taking part in the event, and the testimonial written and shared within their network is extremely valuable for the companies.
A simple example: One of the event participants is a developer. It is likely that this participant knows other developers and has them in their network. Therefore, when an event badge gets shared by that participant, the audience addressed indirectly by the company is already hyper-targeted, which creates valuable leads.
And when it comes to digital marketing, especially digital advertisement, a well-targeted audience is the tipping point for the success of every campaign, whether you are selling protein shakes online or event tickets.
Participants, on the other hand, have 2 strong incentives to share their Virtual Badge: CV enrichment and peer recognition. In the end, everyone wants to write a post thanking the @eucommission on their LinkedIn for the opportunity to work with like-minded people on an event of global scale.
The technology used by the Hackathon was created by FutureNext and will be available soon on a SaaS model.
Founder and COO
May 11, 2020