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| Written by Kaycee McFalls

Digital Decisions: How to Choose a Digital Platform for Virtual or Hybrid Events

Whether it’s a webinar, conference, or networking session, the success of your virtual or hybrid event can depend on the digital platform used. There are many options available, all with their own strengths and price points. When you partner with M&IW, you are assigned a digital producer from the Event Technology team who guides you to the right platform to meet your needs.

Top Three Factors Influencing Your Choice of Digital Platform

Choosing a digital platform needs to happen early in the planning process. The capabilities of the platform chosen affect what can and cannot be done for your event. When making this decision with your digital producer and planning team, be prepared to discuss your event’s needs, including any non-negotiables or deal-breakers.

Your digital producer will then help you choose the right digital platform based on your unique needs and three key considerations: the target audience, the level of interaction between attendees, and your budget.

Identifying Your Target Audience

Is your event for 50 attendees, 500, or 5,000? Is this their first time attending a virtual or hybrid event, or are they seasoned pros? Do they want to be wowed by the latest technology, or do they care more about ease of use? Is their primary reason for attending networking or education?

These are just some of the questions to ask when identifying your target audience. You can also look at post-event surveys from your past events. Even if those were held in person, any questions addressing technology or the overall attendee experience may be helpful in adapting to a new event format.

Choosing the Level of Interactivity

The level of attendee interaction is the main differentiator between digital platforms, so it is important to discuss this early in the planning process. Here are some common examples and the recommended platforms for each:

  • If attendees need to see and hear each other with minimal production requirements, a classic Zoom Meeting may be the easiest solution.
  • If you want speakers to easily monitor Q&As and save a busy chat log for later review, consider stepping it up to Zoom Webinars.
  • If you need a general session as well as virtual breakout rooms where attendees can meet in small groups, you have more options. Depending on if you want attendees to switch between breakouts and if you want to force them to return back to the general session at a specific time, Zoom Meetings, Zoom Webinars, Webex, or SpotMe Studio may be the right fit.
  • If you have a lot of production elements like video clips but don’t need to see or hear your live audience, Streamyard makes your presentation look pristine while still allowing for written interaction through comments, Q&A, and polls.
  • If you’re holding a multi-day conference with several different sessions, consider an all-in-one platform like Zoom Events, SpotMe, or Cvent Attendee Hub to keep everything in one place.

Maximizing Your Budget

The cost of a digital platform is based partially on the number of attendees and partially on the features and level of customization. If you’re looking to customize the platform’s appearance with your organization’s branding, that will cost more, but it may be worth the cost depending on your event goals. Another feature to consider is analytics. Most platforms offer some level of data, but the information collected and the level of detail vary.

Don’t forget to think about your post-event needs. You can maximize your budget and extend the life of your event’s content by recording the livestream and making the video available on demand. On-demand recordings are generally free for attendees to access after the event, but also consider making them available to non-attendees at a reduced cost for an additional revenue stream.

No matter how you plan to use on-demand content, know that not all platforms support downloading recordings. Be prepared to discuss this need and how you plan to share the videos with your digital producer during your first meeting.

Next Steps

Remember, no digital platform is better or worse than another. Rather, it’s about finding the right platform to meet your needs. Just because you liked the platform of a webinar you attended doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for your event. That said, it may be helpful to know what specifically you liked or disliked about another virtual event as that can help guide your digital producer in their recommendation.

Ready to plan your next virtual or hybrid event? Contact us to get started. Already an M&IW customer? Contact your Customer Success Manager.


Contributor

Headshot of Kaycee McFalls

Kaycee McFalls

Digital Producer, Production & Technology

Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, Inc.