As the guy in charge of BlogWorld’s Virtual Ticket program (which allows people who can’t make it to the live event to “attend” on their own timetable from their home or office), I’ve been given a very interesting puzzle to solve.
Here are the two questions I keep asking myself:
- How can we most effectively bring the content and experience of BlogWorld to people who want to go to New York to attend…but can’t?
- How can we make an online conference as much like being there in person as possible?
See, BlogWorld is HUGE. There are
over 140 speakers, and at the live event, ten sessions will be happening at once…pretty much all the time. Even if it were feasible to live-stream the entire conference to our virtual attendees, we wouldn’t want to.
Because if we did, then virtual attendees would face the same problem that live attendees face: They’d have to choose one session to watch at a time and would, hence, be physically unable to view 90% of the conference due to most people’s pesky inability to be in ten places at once.
The content in the Virtual Ticket isn’t live. You wouldn’t want it to be live. In fact, a huge number of people who sign up for the Virtual Ticket are people who will be there at the actual event. They get the Virtual Ticket to fill the gaps in their live conference experience, so that after they come home from BlogWorld, they can watch that 90+% of the content that they missed.
(NOTE: If you already signed up to attend BlogWorld in New York and would like to add the Virtual Ticket to your registration, you can do so for only $97. Just email us and ask us to add the VT to your registration. If you haven’t yet signed up for the live event, you can add the VT during the registration process.)
But because the Virtual Ticket’s main content is 100+ hours of non-live video recordings (and the accompanying MP3 downloads), that dilemma comes right back at us. How can we best convey the BlogWorld experience? How can we make it “almost like being there live” for people who can’t be there live if most of our Virtual Ticket content is not live?
And the answer, of course, is that we can’t. But we can come close.
See, there’s nothing like attending a conference. If you’re actually there in person, you’ll get the networking and handshaking and hanging out and the strange “inspiration osmosis” that comes from being in the live atmosphere. We can’t replace that, and it’d be insulting to suggest that we could.
But I asked myself…what would be close? What would help simulate an in-person experience as much as possible?
And the solution came back loud and clear: Provide daily content.
The recordings — which you can play, pause, and replay at will for a full six months on the website (or forever if you download them) — will show up about a week after BlogWorld ends. For the Los Angeles 2011 Virtual Ticket, we did a bunch of video interviews — behind the scenes stuff, intended to give that “at the conference feel” — and we provided those about a week after the event, too. And that was cool.
But this year, in addition to all of that (and with an upgrade in video and audio quality for the bonus interviews), we’re going to give Virtual Ticketholders content every day.
There’s something different about daily updates. If you get daily updates, then you can learn about Day 1 stuff while it’s still Day 1. And if you learn about something on Day 1, then you can see what happens with it on Day 2 and follow along.
In other words, daily content gets you immersed in the experience so you don’t feel like you’re just watching from the sidelines.
So, in addition to the 100+ recorded sessions, in addition to the bonus video interviews that are exclusive to the Virtual Ticket, and in addition to our prolific social media activity and picture-sharing from the conference floor, we’re adding two things to this year’s Virtual Ticket:
- Every day, we’re going to record a handful of audio interviews and behind-the-scenes segments. And every evening, we’re going to post those files on the Virtual Ticket site for attendees to listen to.
- Every evening, we’re going to write up a daily recap. We’ll tell VT attendees who we captured on video that they’ll be able to watch later, we’ll tell them about big happenings, and we’ll tell them if we spot The Bloggess eating a burrito for lunch. (Or if she brought her giant metal chicken “Beyonce” with her.)
Will this content make the Virtual Ticket “just like being in New York”? Of course not. But will it bring Virtual Ticketholders into the fold, finally making them a PART of BlogWorld as it unfolds instead of sitting on the sidelines, waiting patiently for the event to end and for the session content to be delivered to the private Virtual Ticket website.
If you can’t make it to New York this year, check out this year’s BlogWorld Virtual Ticket if you haven’t done so already. The price is only $347, and you won’t have to book a flight or a hotel room. Good luck finding this insane amount of content for that price anywhere else.
And if you’re attending live in New York, definitely consider adding the Virtual Ticket when you register for BlogWorld so that you can go back after the event and review the huge amount of content you missed while you were there live. It’s only $97, and will be the best conference bang-for-your-buck you ever spend. (NOTE: If you’ve already registered and want to add the VT now, you can’t do that through the website. Please email us and let us know you want to add the VT and we’ll add it for you.)