- This experimental event involved the audience moving through spaces in the Youseum, using a completely mobile livestream setup, which also needed a lot of testing in advance.
- In these experimental setups be prepared for some chaos and forgive yourself when things (inevitably) go wrong.
- The experiences for online and on-site audiences doesn’t have to be the same, but it should be fun and of the highest quality for both.
- Speak directly to your online audience to increase interaction and engagement.
In recent years, the ways in which you can make money as a creator on social media have grown and broadened considerably. With that growth, the mutual dependence that popular creators and powerful social media platforms have on each other seems to have also grown more tense. What are the consequences of being financially dependent on creating content on social media? How do these economic systems shape the content itself? And how do platforms and lawmakers respond to creators monetising their content? During The Hmm ON the Creator Economy, we explored these questions.
To immerse ourselves and our audience into the lives of content creators, we took our event to the Youseum, a social media experience/selfie-museum where you create the best memories and, of course, the best content.
The event took place in several spaces of the Youseum, and the audience travelled with us to hear the different speakers. We didn’t use a typical livestream set up, but instead were completely mobile, with cellphones mounted on ring light tripods, connected to MagSafe battery packs, streaming live to OBS, which we use for our livestream.
Before the first speaker started their presentation, we invited the physical audience to experience the museum on their own for a little bit. While they were snapping selfies in the different rooms, we took the online audience on a walk through the space, where they could watch the physical audience move around, take their new Instagram posts, and wave to the camera. We also had them play a little game: ‘spot the aroma diffusers’ (diffusing our scent Hmmosphere). The audience members with the quickest eye and reply won a free ticket to our next event.
The second speaker was tuning in from the United States, and thus joined through a video call. We usually broadcast this video call on a big screen in the space – similar to watching a livestream. Since this event was nomadic in approach, we instead urged the physical audience to roam around and find a comfortable place to sit in the museum, after which they would watch the livestream on their own device. During the ten minutes in which the physical visitors were finding their ideal spot, we walked the online audience through a few more spaces and then addressed by the host as he explained our technical set up of the night, à la YouTube influencer. After this second talk had concluded, we instructed the physical audience through the livestream to join the final speaker in the ball-pit room.
This was our first time using such a mobile set-up, and despite testing as much as possible beforehand, we ran into some issues. The sound on the livestream fell away for a few minutes, one presenter’s slides weren’t configured correctly, the physical space had an echo of the livestream sound for a while, you could hear us discuss problems in the background, and so forth. Sometimes, these issues were valuable in ways we couldn’t have predicted beforehand. One visitor told us:
Luckily, we have an incredibly forgiving audience that’s happy to participate in experiments. Although experiments sometimes have their set-backs, our visitors come back time and time again.
Physical visitors were excited about the mobile set up as they got to experience the different social media rooms as well as the presentations. They praised the livestream experience during the second presentation and didn’t feel it lacked physical qualities.
Responses from the online audience tell us they enjoyed being toured around the museum, as it broke up the talks that are sometimes hard to keep your attention on.
The online audience was active in the chat, maybe because we encouraged them to be watchful during the first walk around while playing the game and incentivised them to speak up. We also asked them a few questions during the break, which more than a few answered dutifully. We don’t always have a very responsive online audience, so it seems that this little push in the beginning helped them to open up and be present during the event.
Unfortunately, this set-up was not the best for connecting the on-site and online audience with each other. While the online audience did enjoy watching the on-site audience walk around and take selfies and felt mildly connected through this, physical visitors said they were missing some relationship with the online audience, and online visitors didn’t feel very connected to other online visitors. So, connecting to the online audience is the biggest challenge. Visitors said they enjoyed the chat and the emojis in the livestream – functions we implemented to help the online audience to relate to and feel each other’s presence.
Learnings and Insights
- Always check your tech set up in advance, and make sure you have a direct connection with your technician in case of hiccups. We often found ourselves in a position where we received immediate feedback from visitors (e.g. “we don’t have sound on the livestream”) that we had to quickly relay to the tech team to fix. With some issues like this, time is of the essence so the audience doesn’t miss out on too much of the event.
- Be prepared for some chaos. Make sure you don’t get too overwhelmed even when things go wrong and, most importantly, forgive yourself when things do (inevitably) go wrong. The audience will too – if you prepare them in advance for the experiment.
- It’s difficult to create the same experience for online and on-site audiences and, in fact, shouldn’t really be the goal. It’s a different set up and should be treated as such. It’s more important that both audience have a similar quality experience, however that is achieved. For example, while the physical visitors had the agency to walk around the museum, the online visitors got a private tech tour and a fun game. In this way, we took care of both audiences in different, equally important ways.
- Having an incentive to speak up in an online chat helps visitors be more present and active for the duration of the event. This could involve asking simple questions, but something more is possibly better. In any case, be sure to address the online audience directly from the livestream, so they feel as visible as the physical audience. We have noticed during other events where we never directly speak to the online visitors that the chat was less responsive – even if we asked them questions from within the chat itself. Although this is probably not the only contributing factor towards an active online audience – especially depending on your audience – it might be an important one.