What to Consider When Creating Content for Digital Events

Pivoting to digital meetings means rethinking every part of the event process, including content. 


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What's more important: Your digital content platform or your digital content?

To no one's surprise, there's been a tremendous surge of interest in digital platforms as a complement to, or a replacement for, face-to-face events.

However, in the desperate scramble to identify the right platform, the preeminence of content has gotten lost. The best platform in the world can't make up for mediocre content. Only better content can do that.

So, what are folks saying about virtual content? Not much.

What absolutely everyone is saying is that you can't just take your face-to-face content and put it online. But unfortunately, that seems to be what everyone is doing.

Our industry tech gurus have consistently been saying that platforms are just tools and they're only as good as the people using them. 

These tech gurus readily acknowledge that:

  1. Content is king (i.e., more important than which platform you use).
  2. Content is not their area of expertise.
  3. You should be talking to the content experts about that.

Every single tech guru I've talked to lately tells me that they've been inundated with calls about digital platforms, but virtually no one's asking about what to do with their content.

The platform providers I've talked to are overwhelmed by all the requests for information from prospects asking about features, benefits and pricing, etc. But no one's asking them about content either and frankly, they don't have the time to get into it.

Most of what's been published lately about getting up and running on digital event platforms ignores the topic of content completely, or only deals with it in the vaguest of generalities.

Why aren't we talking more about virtual content?

Our industry has always had an ambivalent attitude toward content in general. We mention content all the time but do very little about it. We're obsessed with every detail of events (food and beverage, swag, etc.) except for the content and outcomes which, more than any other two event elements, are explicitly linked.

Assess Your Content's Value

Doing digital content right isn't rocket science. But before getting into how to do digital content right, you have to take a step back and determine whether your face-to-face content is any good.

If your face-to-face content isn't any good, it's not going to get any better by putting it online. In fact, it'll make it worse.

Designing, developing and delivering virtual content is much harder than designing, developing and delivering face-to-face content, where you can get away with a lot more. The digital environment is much less forgiving.

So, how do you determine whether your face-to-face content is any good? Hopefully, you already have an evaluation process in place for this. The ultimate question of the evaluation process should be, "Is my face-to-face content resulting in any individual or organizational performance improvement?"

If you can't answer that question (and most can't because they don't have the right kind of evaluation process in place), you can't say with any certainty whether your face-to-face content is any good.

But don't fret. Your content can likely be salvaged -- even improved -- if you follow a sound content process.

Know the Stakes

If you choose to put your face-to-face content online without first determining its value, you may do irreparable harm to your event, your brand and your reputation.

There's a saying among content professionals that, "No content is better than bad content."
So, keep in mind what's at stake by using bad or mediocre content and ask yourself if it's worth it. 

You also need to keep in mind that "good" content doesn't necessarily mean "more" content. It means the right content, delivered to the right audience, through the right channel, at the right time.

So, take a step back before you migrate your face-to-face content onto your digital platform. It's not as easy as you think. But it doesn't have to be that hard if you follow a tried and true process. 

Besides impacting performance, the goal of your digital content should be to capture and engage attendees. Content is ultimately about building trust. And trust, especially in the virtual world, is an increasingly rare commodity -- making content even more important for digital events. No other element will matter more to your audience and their experience than relevant, meaningful and outcome-oriented content, provided you do it right.

John Nawn is the founder and CEO of The Perfect Meeting, an experiential design firm focused on optimizing the attendee experience and meeting outcomes. This piece is the first in a series on how to improve your virtual content.