Inclusive, immersive experiences: The heart of Webex for hybrid work
The past couple of years have proven there is a real need for strategies and technologies that can support a dynamic environment and flex to adapt to change. In 2020, B2B companies hosting in-person events with thousands of people came to an abrupt stop. Then, everything went 100% virtual. Now, we see a fluctuation between the two. And results have been mixed.
In a recent Forrester survey, 28% of marketing leaders surveyed say virtual hasn’t worked for them, and they plan to return to in-person. Lack of proper planning for virtual, flat content, and little engagement with attendees were contributing factors. In the same study, 67% said rich networking opportunities – a flagship benefit of in-person events – have been a challenge. And while 58% agree with the statement that “all flagship B2B marketing events will be hybrid in two years”, only 17% have experimented with this format. It’s time to rethink and reimagine event strategies to deliver experiences that are optimized for everyone, regardless of how or from where they join.
What have we learned? What needs to change?
It’s important to look first at the audience. How have their expectations changed today compared to two years ago? How can we draw from the best of virtual and pull it through to in-person?
- Flat virtual event experiences will be the outlier, not the norm. Viewing a keynote streamed to a website cannot constitute a virtual component for a hybrid conference. Now, people expect more. They want the same level of engagement they get in their daily lives online. They want high-touch, personalized interactions on their terms.
- Virtual events enabled us to reach larger, more diverse global audiences. How do we continue to bring those people into the in-person event experience, so it’s more than a talking head in a box. Remote participants want to make meaningful connections through the same rich networking opportunities available to those who attend in person.
- Rapid innovation has made delivering high profile, high reward, immersive events accessible to new groups of users. How can we make it easy and cost-effective, particularly for the non-traditional event planners in the mix?
- And how can we ensure that the people who want to participate can – through accessible features they can customize to their unique needs?
Inclusive, immersive experiences
At Webex, we are focused on unifying the physical and virtual to deliver more immersive, inclusive hybrid work and event experiences. Whether in-person, virtual, or both, we are putting people first, to bring them into the event experience in a way that allows them to participate fully in ways that are natural to them. Our latest innovations purpose built for hybrid work help make that possible.
We provide the world’s first end-to-end hybrid event and meeting technology suite, made possible with the addition of Socio to Webex. Our solutions support events of all sizes, types, and complexity. Webex Meetings are ideal for one-to-one or small groups that desire a collaborative experience and with shared levels of participation. Webex Webinars was purpose-built to meet the needs of events that tend to have one-to-many formats – including all-hands meetings or marketing webinars. These events often require more moderation, registration, branding, and different ways to support interactive attendee engagement. Socio provides a platform for multi-day, multi-track hybrid events, with ticketing, peer networking, a digital event hub and everything event teams need to host industry conferences, tradeshows, or internal sales summits.
Let’s look more closely at what’s possible
First, congratulations to the Socio team for being ranked #20 on G2‘s 2022 Best Software List for Marketing Products, making it the highest-ranked event management platform in the category.
Socio offers a core event platform for end-to-end hybrid event management that can easily pivot between event formats – virtual, in-person, or both. It’s easy to build and customize branded event hubs. Just drag and drop feature icons or create your own if needed. Registration, ticketing, sponsorship options, interactive attendee networking, and community make it easy to participate and connect in meaningful ways – and help drive ROI. Real-time reporting in dashboards and metrics to measure ROI are built in. Onsite event solutions such as in-person check-in, badging, digital signage – are also possible. Package event software, hardware, and services from a single vendor, along with lead tracking for follow up when your event concludes.
Socio enables accessible events for everyone. Socio empowers attendees to choose the right accessibility requirements for themselves. Visual adjustments such as content scaling, text magnifier, and the ability to color and orientation are built in.
Users can also set their profiles based on their specific needs. For instance, accessibility profiles include Vision Impaired, Cognitive Disability, Seizure-Safe, and ADHD-Friendly, as well as Keyboard Navigation for Motor Impaired.
Engaging with audiences and each other is easy with features such as live polling and social networking. For instance, with Selfie Booth, it’s easy to snap a selfie from your phone or desktop to put a face to a name. Social wall allows people to post pictures of their event experience, and “like” and comment on each other’s posts. Socio Live Display – is ideal for attendee networking across formats, as it can be seen both in the live venue and virtually at the same time. Socio Video Rooms provide a space to hold 1:1 and small group meetings boosting attendee and partner engagement.
Socio now offers Simulive and video hosting capabilities. Simulive mitigates production risk by enabling you to pre-record your event content and schedule it to go live at a specific time. All attendees joining a Simulive session will be watching your pre-recorded content at the same time, so their participation in the session chat will be fully in sync with your content. Whether you’re playing videos during a live stream, in a Simulive session, or as on-demand content, you can create unforgettable immersive experiences for individual sessions, virtual sponsor booths, or speaker profiles. Socio’s native Video Hosting solution allows you to confidently house your videos under one roof.
You can learn more about the Simulive capabilities in our recent webinar.
Drive and measure ROI. Socio’s data and analytics capabilities for events are unmatched. Data, monetization, and measurement capabilities can be used to show event ROI. Real-time analytics turns your data into actionable insights. Post-event metrics equip you with the data you need to continually improve your events program. We also offer multiple sponsorship tools including banner ads, splash screens, custom profiles, push notifications, and our Sponsor Showcase provides visibility and measurable ROI for your sponsors.
Webex Webinars (formerly Webex Events) offers many comparable capabilities that simplify management of virtual events. Robust host and presenter options give you control and enable you to engage attendees, with reliable, scaled reach. In fact, you can seamlessly host up to 100,000 participants – inside or outside of your organization.
With Webex Webinars, you can curate the attendee registration experience with custom branding options and different themes. You can hold practice sessions before the session starts, customize the stage layout, and Immersive Share enables presenters to create a more personal and engaging experience while presenting by immersing your video directly into your shared screen or application. Encourage audience participation with moderated Q&A, real-time polling, and breakout rooms.
For audience members who need language support, real-time translation – from 13 languages to more than 100 languages – is built-in; they simply choose their desired language. Our Simultaneous Interpretation solutions are standard in Webex Meetings and Webinar but must be enabled by IT. Our flexible solutions allow hosts, participants, and interpreters to customize their experience sand participate more fully, with multiple interpreters per channel, simultaneous interpretation (direct and relay), and bi-directional interpretation supported.
If you want to give your audience takeaways, content/file sharing is now possible in Webex Webinars. Hosts can easily upload material (e.g., pptx, pdf, .doc) for attendees to download. Ideal for sharing training materials for attendees to review at their own pace, or to leave webinar attendees with a takeaway after the event.
These are just a few of our recent innovations across our meetings and events solutions.
Learn more about our event solutions at https://www.webex.com/products/event-management.html
We are also advancing Webex calling, meeting, and messaging solutions for hybrid work through integrations – like Webex Meetings in Hubspot. You can read more about this powerful integration in Scott Edwards’ new blog.
Be sure to check out our What’s new in Webex blog for the latest innovations now in market.