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Most Innovative Meetings 2020: #9 Facebook's GMS 1World Un-Summit

Facebook’s virtual conference used strategic programming blocks and on-demand content to engage employees around the world.

Organizers created 17 TV segments—all professionally scripted, filmed, edited, and produced—that were packaged into seven programming blocks.
Organizers created 17 TV segments—all professionally scripted, filmed, edited, and produced—that were packaged into seven programming blocks.
Photo: Courtesy of Jack Morton

The Basics: Facebook’s annual conference for its global marketing and sales staff shifted to virtual on March 10. Produced by Jack Morton and Campos Creative Works, the experience drew more than 6,000 attendees and was hosted on Facebook Workplace and Instagram. It featured more than 30 TED-style keynotes and kept its original theme, appropriately titled “Transform.” 

Steal-Worthy Innovations: With less than three weeks to make the virtual shift, organizers opted to create 17 TV segments—all professionally scripted, filmed, edited, and produced—that were packaged into seven programming blocks, designed to accommodate attendees in different time zones around the world. The blocks were released as a series, allowing employees to watch as soon as an episode was available or later on-demand. “The content continues to be available and is encouraged viewing as part of onboarding for new members within the organization—something that we have learned is a great benefit of having a virtual event,” said Vince Belizario, senior vice president and group account director for Jack Morton.

The team set up a studio at Facebook’s headquarters, where the majority of scheduled speakers recorded their presentations. To accommodate the changing needs of a virtual conference, the number of speakers was reduced; presenters were also encouraged to reexamine their content to see how it worked via video versus live. 

While the main focus was on content, organizers also engaged attendees through virtual networking lunches as well as fun AR filters and custom profile photo frames. “Things that are easy and accessible regardless of time zone and country,” explained Belizario. “This allowed us to create a more well-rounded attendee experience.”

Lessons Learned: For virtual events, Belizario says that brands need to understand their audience members and how they learn best. “Striking the right tone between business and lightheartedness can make a difference with viewers. Content captured from speakers’ homes creates a level of intimacy and vulnerability that typically wouldn’t be experienced at a live event.”

Belizario also noted that virtual events are a great way to build community. “A virtual experience can extend the conversation beyond just a single day,” he said. “Content can be repackaged and shared out or made available later via social channels to encourage more viewers and conversation.”

Next: #10 PPG's Inspire U Regional Leadership Meeting
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