In our last blog post, Hybrid Events Are A Myth (& here’s why), we broke down why hybrid events shouldn’t exist. And in short, it’s because when you try to combine a virtual event with an in-person event, the experience is diminished for participants on both sides as compromises are made to address the other audience. On top of that dumpster fire, the load on the organizer becomes almost impossible to manage.
So yeah, we don’t think hybrid events should exist (although our event management software is well equipped to run one if you please.)
Instead, we proposed a hybrid strategy.
What is a hybrid strategy?
Hybrid strategy combines a discrete in-person or virtual event with a longer-term, loosely structured online component. You may have also heard a Hybrid Strategy called community hybrid, a 365 event, or an ever-vent.
The point of a Hybrid Strategy is twofold:
Extend the reach of your event’s content and audience network
Build a growing online event community to promote extended networking opportunities, more sponsorship avenues, and foster repeat attendees
In a Hybrid Strategy, the function of the online component is not that of a freestanding event, but instead a gathering place for content, sponsors, and most importantly—people. In most cases, the online component will stretch before, during, and after the in-person or main event. Here’s what that looks like:
Before and during the event: A place to get event updates, interact with past or related content, book appointments with sponsors to meet on event day, make appointments for 1:1 networking with other in-person attendees on event day, and chat with attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, and the event organizers before the event.
After the event: A hub to learn about future events, watch or rewatch past and day-of-event content, network virtually with all attendees, browse the sponsor directory, and get in touch with the event host company—your always-on event community.
Let’s say you’re planning to have an event once a quarter. Your online component would open before the first event began for news and networking, then, after your first event ended, you would make your day-of-event content available for rewatching, or allow those who weren’t able to attend in-person to watch it for the first time.
As you roll out your second, third, and fourth events, your content library and online event community grow, and your reach extends exponentially. Attendees become more engaged, content becomes reference material, and sponsors can carry on more and longer conversations. Meanwhile, your event staff only has to build your online community once and can keep their focus squarely where it belongs: running kick@ss in-person events.
Key benefits of employing a hybrid strategy
What makes this different from a hybrid event?
Ok, you caught us; a Hybrid Strategy is, in some ways, a type of Hybrid Event. Still, there are some important points of differentiation to consider here:
1 A hybrid strategy does not try to merge an in-person event with a virtual one, even if they happen at the same time. While both events may share content, they do not aim to share engagement or networking, nor do they rely on one another to exist.
2 A hybrid strategy does not require planners to run their virtual component and in-person event simultaneously. Most likely, the virtual component will stretch both before and after the in-person event but could occur only before or only after the core event component.
3 A hybrid strategy does not encourage cross-audience networking or engagement during the event, though the full audience is brought together online pre- and post-.
We know what you’re experiencing—a little shock, confusion, happiness, and validation. Our revelation hit us like a ton of bricks, and everything has made sense since then. Don’t worry, we have a lot more to say about how to actually implement a hybrid strategy from a technology standpoint and non-tech considerations. Stay tuned for more posts breaking it down.
Or don’t wait and download the full guide by clicking below.