MOVING FROM AN ANALOG TO A VIRTUAL EVENT IN JUST FOUR WEEKS
This is the story of a renowned company, just like many others in a time like this, that was compelled to shift its modus operandi unexpectedly. The ball was set rolling for their two-day program, an event venue booked, over 500 expected participants, five stages prepared, 20 speakers announced, hundreds of hotel reservations made…. There was certainly a lot of effort being put into organizing the annual Liferay Digital Solutions Forum; LDSF 2020. The preparation for the April 2020 event had already started in October of the previous year and everyone was most definitely looking forward to reconvene with partners, customers and leaders from around the world to discuss the latest digital trends, platform developments and optimization strategies of the customer experience.
And then in a blink, all plans were shattered. Corona struck and it struck pretty hard. It began to spread with an exponential speed across the world and the Liferay management quickly realized that a physical event won’t be able to take place as planned. By the end of March, the big question that remained to be answered was: cancel or postpone or go virtual? In no time the decision was made. LDSF goes virtual this year!
That wasn’t really a story. It is a real life occurrence with real life ramifications, albeit virtual.
Why are we sharing this with you? Because we believe in possibilities even in very difficult and uncertain situations — the possibilities of developing informative and interactive platforms. Because we believe in the power of digital transformation and of an unforgettable digital experience.
And even though Liferay provides such digital solutions, the challenge that had to be confronted now was taking the onus on themselves to actually transform themselves from the inside out. To move from a physical world to the digital.
We supported Liferay by transitioning their event into an online program in just four weeks and it was monumental. Safe to mention that what made this a success was not merely the tech tools that were at disposal, rather a culmination of a healthy digital mindset, an adaptable corporate culture and a clear-cut communication process that were already in place at Liferay. Without any of these, success could not have been achieved here.
How exactly did we achieve all this? Well, here is a summary of the key steps that were taken:
Using Tech in a Targeted Manner
Liferay knew that the two-day program had to be streamed down into a day of virtual interaction. It had to be kept short, yet entertaining. We built a total of three stages, some of which were also used simultaneously — in addition to the “Q&A rooms”.
The following considerations were made:
- Several moderators in the office studio but with enough space to enable the practice of physical distancing.
- The recording will be streamed to YouTube via livestream and integrated directly into the event platform.
- Some speakers were asked to pre-record their sessions and then go live with them.
- Co-moderators coordinated with the speakers through and through.
- Q&A sessions and social networks are made possible via virtual lounges that can be easily entered by the participants (powered by Whereby and directly integrated into iChair, a platform that we recommended to Liferay).
Designing a Program for a Digital Audience
To make this possible, Liferay had to address how we could transform a physical 2-day program into a 1-day digital format and explore the new opportunities, new forms and interactions that could result from a digital event experience.
They changed the daily program, modularized and shortened the speaking times. A variety of Q&A rooms in which a personal exchange with the speakers and accompanied moderation were made possible. Some “Q&A” sessions went spontaneously over several hours. This led to a number of interactions, which were measured and evaluated as “engagement” during the day.
Building a Great Stage
Audio-visual support would typically come with a big rented event center. However, for this digital event, Lumen along with the Liferay team designed the tech setup with a 7-man tech team using partly rented technology for audio, video, lightning, camera and streaming according to the available budget. The team also made it possible for the streams to be embedded in the digital event platform via several platforms such as Vimeo, Youtube, Livestream.com.
The Art of Presenting Online
Lumen and the Liferay team provided technical support for the speakers by readying them for an online presentation. We brought structure to the show and coached the speakers on how to use the tools for a faultless presentation, since digital engagement shows only very few similarities to physical interaction on an analog stage or in seminars with bodily presence.
Making it Fun for Participants
One of the biggest challenges of any virtual event is making it lively for participants. Liferay developed multiple means of interaction across several channels:
- An event app was created to keep the participants from wandering off, but instead to encourage interaction among one another. In addition to the schedule and news feed, the participants were able to share images and take part in real-time surveys that were tailored to the live program. There was a photo competition that called on the participants to show where they were following the event from.
- Entry into the virtual event at any given time was made possible throughout the day. As a result, participants who were surprised by the quality and interactivity of the conference spontaneously invited their colleagues to join in.
- A graphic designer was hired to graphically capture the digital conference and lectures at the same time. During the course of the day, these graphic works were presented in parallel to the event. Each color scheme represented a lecture from the digital conference. This made up for another great channel of interaction.
- The finished artwork was shared among the participants and will be used in post-event marketing, enriched with video and audio statements for various channels (social media, partners, etc.).
The Result: Sustainable Success
We recommended using an individual hashtag to promote and document interaction on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. In April 2020, Liferay achieved over 250,000 impressions via Google and social media.
With the support of Lumen, Liferay was able to completely turn a physically planned event into a digital one within 30 days. Two days later, a thank you email with key figures and a feedback form was sent out to all participants.
Here are the figures:
- A total of 620 registrations within 4 weeks
- Audience rate of over 70% on the day of the event (corresponds to approx. 450 participants)
- 15 hours of live stream on 3 live stages across 20 lounges and question rooms
- 8 moderators
- 17 keynotes and presentations
- 19 speakers and a lot of fruitful and entertaining interaction about digital trends, UX, CX, digital platforms and more
Testimonial from the main sponsor
“Congratulations and a big thank you for “moving” the LDSF from the physical to the virtual world in a wonderful and impressive way! Format and style were very successful, and the presentations were also very attractive. The very high count of participants paid off and thus confirms this. All in all: great teamwork and an absolute success!”
You did a really great job here. Rarely have I been led so professionally through a (virtual) event
— Gesa Lischka, Keynote speaker
Liferay makes softwares that help companies create digital experiences on web, mobile and connected devices. Our platform is open source, which makes it more reliable, innovative and secure. We try to leave a positive mark on the world through business and technology. Thousands of organizations in financial services, healthcare, government, insurance, retail, manufacturing and multiple other industries use Liferay. Visit us at www.liferay.com.
Liferay is recognized as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms for the tenth time.
With support from iChair, we are now working on our own Lumen server in Hamburg which will come with many exciting and personalized features such as:
- A new and even more intuitive design including Q&A and polls
- Development of responsive container app (ready in June)
- Individual chatrooms
- Integration of own video services in Hamburg in conformity with the GDPR