By Caitlin Sinel and Juris Nafarrete
It was a weekend. You were scrolling through your feed—like what you just did an hour ago—when you stumbled upon a post. It didn’t matter if it was a webinar, or a workshop, or just a thirty-minute live on Youtube. It piqued your interest, so you immediately joined. And that’s how you found yourself in front of a screen for the nth time since quarantine started.
Rewinding to six months ago, the nationwide lockdown in the country was imposed to fight against the pandemic, which forced almost everyone to go virtual. And as days of uncertainty turned into weeks, many of us had already tried to discover several methods digitally on how to get back on our feet to prepare for the so-called ‘new normal.’
Transitioning to the current way of gathering
As an attempt to cut down the number of COVID-19 cases, all forms of mass gatherings were restricted, especially in the metro. Classroom learning shifted to remote learning, seminars turned into webinars, and there’s even a few who willingly opened their doors to people who aspired to learn from their online courses or workshops. Free of charge! And you would even acquire a certificate of completion, albeit digitally.
Even in the music scene, gone were the jam-packed concert halls and chill out nights in music cafés. Replaced by virtual concerts and live streams, artists could easily perform for their fans around the globe in the comforts of their own homes. A number of them actively sought methods to remain relevant by collaborating with their chosen fundraisers.
For some individuals, attending virtual events was an escape, a perfect distraction in these challenging times. For most of us, it served as a way to be productive and learn about the things we’re interested in despite being stuck at home. But for enterprises, small and big alike, this was an opportunity to stand out as the world adjusted to what started out as the trend, now transformed as our norm.
Adapting to the digital norm
As one of the largest and most renowned cosmetics companies worldwide, L’Oréal wasn’t fazed by the unforeseen switch from traditional to virtual; they were even ready to divulge some of their marketing strategies during their series of digital talks entitled “Empowering a Digital Generation” last August 28 via Zoom.
With the help of the University of the Philippines Career Assistance Program (UP CAP), they garnered almost 400 virtual attendees from different fields and campuses. It was a feat that the event had little to no difficulties, be it technical issues or lack of audience engagement. In fact, everything they did online was effective and efficient that it left us thinking: how did they manage to do it?
Engaging with the online audience
In any event, it is essential to keep attendees engaged—to make sure that their attention is not only effectively captured, but also sustained. Seeing as an online event is much different than an on-ground conference, engaging an audience online is increasingly more difficult. However, L’Oréal was able to provide an inclusive avenue for participant involvement. Here’s how:
L’Oréal maximized the use of the most popular social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, in encouraging the attendees to participate in the event. For instance, they posted a giveaway of L’Oréal products on their social media accounts wherein eight winners will be chosen. The catch? One must comment his or her answer to the question “Where will digital take beauty?”, as well as share the post with the hashtags #LOrealOnCampus and #WeAreLOreal. As participants continued to share the post, L’Oréal was given more exposure and was made known to a wider audience.
During the event itself, the speakers incorporated images and videos in their presentations. The DigiCon kicked off with an introductory video about L’Oréal, which was an instant hook to the viewers. The appealing visuals shown on screen were able to encourage the audience to focus their attention on the discussion since it effectively supplemented the talks given about personalized content for their customers, their approach on e-commerce, and the importance of brand ambassadors. In addition to this, the attendees were able to virtually react to the relatable situations the speakers talked about by making use of the reactions on Zoom, most particularly, the thumbs up feature.
Finally, Q&A sessions were held during the event. Allowing the audience to ask questions did not only pave the way for active participation, but also recognized the need to facilitate an exchange of information despite the unconventional set-up.
Another challenge UP CAP and L’Oréal had to face was managing the event itself. There were almost 400 people who attended the event through Zoom. With a large number of people using the same application, it was no surprise that there might be disruptions during the event. However, there were no technical difficulties nor dead air that occurred. The digicon went smoothly despite it being live. What really helped in managing the event was the system set from the beginning. The hosts, each from UP CAP and L’Oréal, kept all cameras and microphones off and always reminded everyone of the house rules. When it came to the Q&A portion, an orderly approach was employed in order for the questions to be answered by the speakers.
Analyzing the inclusivity of virtual experiences
Despite the big difference between an onstage and onscreen event, UP CAP and L’Oréal were able to take the leap in promoting beauty in the digital age—a topic greatly relevant in our situation today. Taking this as an example, it is imperative to note that online events in general are not going anywhere anytime soon. If this is the case, is it necessarily effective for all?
As with everything else, online events have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, holding events online would mean less logistical costs. We don’t have to spend much on going to webinars or digital conferences as opposed to attending physical seminars and the like. Further, it is easier for us to obtain access to different kinds of opportunities now that issues on location and distance are foregone. Now that everything’s online, we can choose from a myriad of options for learning and growth. This goes to show that learning doesn’t stop even if we are at home.
However, there are also problems with regard to online events. The most prominent is that it is not entirely inclusive. Yes, online events do provide various learning opportunities, but it is more often than not for those who can afford and have resources to push through with their chosen endeavors. Aside from this, internet connectivity issues in many parts of the country are prevalent. As the internet serves as the driving force of online events, attending digital functions without technical difficulties is a struggle for the majority. While online events seem to be the best option for now, its effectiveness clearly varies from one person to another.
Taking a look at the bigger picture, L’Oréal’s digital talk is only a part of a whole group of online events that started during the pandemic. Indeed, UP CAP and L’Oréal’s virtual conference proved to be an online success. It wasn’t a walk in the park, as there could be numerous things that might have gone wrong. But one thing’s for sure, that amidst these trying times as we face the new normal, UP CAP and L’Oréal managed to bridge the distance from them to us, virtually.
This article is in partnership with the UP Career Assistance Program (UP CAP). They will be launching CAPable 2020, an event series divided into three phases: Seeking Counsel, Broadening Horizons, and Narrowing Focus this coming September 21. Their main objective is to guide incoming freshmen as they start their college journey and assist sophomores in determining their respective career paths.