The main annual Adweek Summit should be a 4-day personal experience at Intercontinental Miami, a luxury downtown waterfront venue with unbeatable views of the ocean and the city’s bustling port. However, due to the pandemic, Brandweek 2020 was reinterpreted as a fully virtual event that didn’t take the charm or the possibility of a connection out of the original plan.

Instead, more than 4,000 attendees gathered from the comfort of their homes from September 4 to 18, and took part in engaging conversations from leading brand masters and personalities of interest such as Ryan Reynolds, Dwyane Wade, CMO Fernando Machado of Burger King and Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor from Atlanta, Teil and Elf Beauty CMO Kory Marchisotto. And while much of the interesting chatter took place on the main stage, the conference’s live chat function became a hotbed for targeted dialogue and community building. Messaging during masterclass workshops and panels became an opportunity for engagement.

Adweek spoke to several Brandweek attendees who were active in the chat rooms about how conversation can enhance digital events.

Facilitates peer-to-peer networking

As Adweek Executive Mentee and Walgreens Boots Alliance CMO, Americas global brand, Anisha Raghavan felt like she was in a conference with hundreds of mentees calling each other during the sessions: “The community building aspect that came out of the chats Great. ”

Charlene Coughlin, executive director of Ohio-based agency TWIST Creative, found it interesting to see how the live chat uncovered similarities in questions, experiences, and thoughts related to a speaker’s discussion points and created a kind of intimacy that doesn’t come from the internet can person event dynamics. “Another level of engagement is possible during the virtual conference that may not occur during a face-to-face event. It’s much more real-time than an in-person event where you might only interact during breaks, on Twitter, or during happy hour, ”she said.

2020 was Rey Mendoza’s first Brandweek experience. He said, “I’ve been to other face-to-face events like SXSW, but I firmly believe we shouldn’t lose the aspect of virtual engagement in the chat room.” Mendoza found that live chat allowed people to get involved while listening to a panel, resulting in a more organic dialogue that is often not possible in person. “Imagine everyone shouting their comments to each other all over the room during a panel?” Mendoza thought. He said it was easier to get started on LinkedIn after using the chat feature.

Generates audience feedback in real time

“Between David’s conversation with Ryan Reynolds and Triller’s ‘Panda’ appearance,” Atif Kazmi, founder of Por Homme and co-founder of Networkgray, “told Adweek,” there was just a constant flow of positive and negative conversation. ” But, Kazmi added, that’s the beauty of a chat room that evokes a wide range of emotions and feedback.

Also, people’s inhibitions about exchanging ideas through the chat room have been reduced. “It was fascinating to see real-time audience feedback via chat on content that I would normally see in an auditorium. It’s like reading the minds of 5,000 colleagues, ”said Raghavan.

However, because virtual events can be hit or missed, success depends on the community, according to Kazmi, and how feedback is taken into account in real-time discussions and how those conversations extend beyond the event. “While Brandweek was great, the judges are still unsure whether this is the blueprint everyone should follow,” Kazmi continued. “Your community and your speakers need to be coordinated so that you can keep their attention for hours. Part of me hopes it stays that way because it’s one of the few times I’ve been able to feed the energy of a room in months. ”

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