Main point of contactToby Daniels — CEO and Founder of Social Media Week
WhereNew York, NY
Favorite featuresDashboard Reporting, Email Promotions, Live Chat
Number of events per year3+
Types of events they planSocial Media Week Flagship Events, #SMWONE
Social Media Week launched in 2009 to bring people together to discuss the role and impact of social media.
“The platform, the tools, the features, the live-streaming, the chat, the polling—all enabled us to execute with confidence. We knew Bizzabo was the platform that would enable us to deliver the best possible experience for our attendees.”
CEO and Founder, Social Media Week
Ten years after launching their first event in 2009, Social Media Week hit new heights, operating in 20 different markets internationally and attracting over 60,000 professionals annually. In the wake of COVID-19, the team needed to transform two flagship events in New York and Los Angeles into a uniquely virtual experience branded as #SMWONE.
The Social Media Week team had the exciting challenge of creating a standalone product that would capture some of the best elements of their in-person event offering in the new virtual experience, #SMWONE. They had roughly four weeks to redesign their in-person experience for a virtual audience:
Rather than providing a few days of content programming, Social Media Week created a 4-week virtual conference series. This included an impressive 170+ hours of curated virtual sessions and speakers covering the most relevant topics for marketers. The team embedded Bizzabo’s agenda widget on their event page allowing both live attendees and on-demand attendees to access the full breadth of content any time.
Ticket pricing was adjusted to one-third of the original in-person event ticket at $500. For the value of the ticket, Social Media Week was not only able to provide rich, live content and six months access to the on demand library, but they were also able to provide free tickets to businesses, non-profits, and individuals directly impacted by COVID-19.
Several Bizzabo features proved essential for driving engagement and delivering event value. For example, Bizzabo’s email promotion tools allowed the team to communicate with attendees every day of the virtual conference. An email was also sent 5 minutes before sponsored sessions to improve day-of attendance rates (example below). Additionally, the team relied on Bizzabo’s data exports to capture important insights around each session post-event.
Driving attendee engagement through session registrations and an in-app experience was a big value add with Bizzabo. Despite previous vendor experiences, “Bizzabo offered customization for the attendees allowing them to go through and make their selections based on their time and interests.”
“One of the major highlights for me in making this pivot to virtual was the fact that we could open the event up to a wider audience. With Bizzabo, we were able to reach people internationally in almost 100 countries, which was very exciting for us.”
CEO and Founder, Social Media Week
Social Media Week fundamentally changed their approach to event networking by identifying the individual networking touchpoints and using Bizzabo’s Virtual Experience Solution to facilitate those connections.
First, session attendees actively engaged in real time chat, which organically created meaningful dialogue between attendees during the live session. Second, attendees could also search for other attendees in the Event Community on the Bizzabo platform—either through the fully branded Social Media Week mobile app or desktop experience. Finally, Social Media Week launched a Slack community to help foster connections with over 7,000 professionals.
“Throughout this process, we’re continuing to think about how to come up with better and more exciting, inspirational ways in which we can engage people through this virtual medium. That's the opportunity,” Toby said.
To get in-person event sponsors on board for the virtual event, Social Media Week had to first build a new foundation of trust. This started with proactive communications to sponsors who had already committed to their original in-person event programming and detailed presentations of the new opportunities with #SMWONE. The team worked to strengthen relationships with their 38 sponsors by committing to providing pre-agreed KPIs. “By putting dollar amounts against those different KPIs, my team could offer refunds if we weren’t able to deliver,” Toby said.
Bizzabo’s analytics allowed Social Media Week to easily identify event registrants and attendees that would be valuable for sponsors.
“On average, we were able to deliver 5x more leads to sponsors through our ongoing virtual conference experience with Bizzabo,” Toby said.
To do all this, Social Media Week partnered with a virtual event provider who would help them create a standalone content experience for attendees. The technology needed to deliver on the attendee experience first.
The team took a methodical approach: listing all of the features that were needed and comparing those requirements against different solutions. As they searched, they were laser focused on finding a platform that would bridge an in-person experience and a virtual experience.
“We made a pivot to virtual, and we're going to make a pivot back to in-person in the future,” Toby reflected. “There's so much that we can bring into the in-person world of events that can significantly enhance the experience for our attendees and partners.”