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5 Netflix Shows That’ll Change the Way You Run Virtual Events for Good

September 22, 2021

If you didn’t have a Netflix addiction before lockdown, you probably do now.

Thanks to the stay-at-home rule, there are now a whopping 204 million subscribers to the online streaming platform — that's 9 million more than at the same time in 2019.

From bingeworthy can’t-look-away series, to ‘choose your own ending’ shows like Bandersnatch, the super-streamer platform has aced the skill of keeping us hooked. And it’s not just the shows that have us pining for more — Netflix’s innovative marketing promotions have been making waves too.

With all those extra viewing hours and unparalleled audience engagement, the streaming giant has even started to influence the future of virtual events.

We caught up with five event marketing experts to find out what they’re watching, and help us better understand how Netflix's super digestible on-demand content shapes the way we think about event programming today.

Ready to deliver a Netflix-worthy experience at your next virtual event? Let’s get started.

Why your next virtual event should be more like Netflix

Netflix is the gold standard for streaming services, accounting for 34% of all US streaming — but despite its success, the entertainment giant is known for never taking greatness for granted.

In fact, it’s the commitment to innovation and consistent progress that makes Netflix stand out from the crowd. And every move is dictated by their one-of-a-kind dedication to audience engagement.

Here’s what Netflix can teach us about how people all across the world (including your virtual event attendees) like to consume content:

  • Varied viewing options: Netflix broke the mold early by offering a download-and-go feature for anywhere-anytime viewing.

💡Bring better viewing options to your virtual event by using both live and pre-recorded videos, and by offering attendees the option to catch up in their own time.

  • Easy search features: Netflix’s 2016 redesign drilled down on the need for simple search options to make searching for movies just as fun as watching them.

💡Bring this to your virtual event by choosing a virtual event platform with a visual lobby area. Make sure it includes the option to host pre-recorded trailers so your guests can see everything your event has to offer in one place.

  • Streamlined mobile experience: 66% of Americans pick up their cellphones a whopping 160+ times per day. Netflix tapped into the on-the-go market by creating a mobile app that allows you to watch films straight from your smartphone.

💡Bring this to your virtual event by streamlining your mobile viewing options. 

  • Dedicated marketing for audience subsets: Netflix’s recent move to engage their social follower subset tapped into an audience who are big on social but overlooked by traditional marketing. By launching dedicated social media channels for Latinx, LGBTQ+, families, and Black audiences, they’ve built huge communities that connect on social through their shared experiences.

💡Bring this to your virtual event by using a virtual event platform to track audience data and insights. You never know what gems you might uncover for your next big event.


Market your events like a Netflix producer

It’s not just Netflix’s shows that push audiences’ buttons. Their marketing team does a darn good job of it too.

Here are some examples that could transform how you market your next virtual event:

  • The Bird Box Experience: The 2018 thriller Bird Box sees Sandra Bullock and co. on an epic journey along a raging river to escape killer entities. Oh, and they’re all blindfolded. Netflix marketers knew the impact a blindfolded horror would have, so they invited people to experience it for themselves in their immersive Bird Box Experience bus. Think: Terrifying noises, air pressure, screaming, blindfolds — everything the characters experience, but real.
Image source: www.eventmarketer.com

💡Make your event come alive by sending innovative merch and props attendees can use in real-time during your virtual event.

  • Gilmore Girls’ Luke’s Diner: Gilmore Girls fans were super excited when Netflix took over 200 independent US coffee shops and converted them into Luke’s Diners (a popular show location). The sites included set décor, free coffee, and Netflix prizes. 

💡You can do it too by focusing on attendees’ favorite event highlights and maxing out on the fun. For example, if you previously ran an awesome celebrity cook session, do it again (but better) by pairing it with a live drawing or cookbook giveaway.

  • Stranger Things presents Hawkins Fun Fair: To promote the Stranger Things third season, Netflix marketers created a real-life Mayor Kline’s Fun Fair, recreating the memorable show location. In true Stranger Things style, the fair was full-on ‘80s with magic performances, carnival games, and even cast appearances.

💡Don’t be afraid to drill down on your theme and creatively get your audience members involved. Think: Games, performances, hands-on sessions, and pre-event goodies to make the experience as immersive as possible.

 

5 Netflix shows that’ll change the way you run virtual events for good

1. The Repair Shop: “It’s how we tell the story that counts”

Image source: Netflix

Marketing ace Marcus C. White knows a thing or two about what makes a great story.

When we asked the founder of MCW Events what his favorite Netflix show is, he jumped straight to it: “The Repair Shop. I love this show,” he told us.

For those who haven’t seen it, The Repair Shop is a UK-based show where family heirlooms are restored by master crafts-people. The heirlooms aren’t necessarily valuable in a monetary sense, but they’re truly priceless to those that bring them in.

“You follow along as you see the artisans work their magic, how they care about what it is they’re working on, the story behind the item, and the techniques they employ,” he explains.

But for Marcus, the show’s about more than just fixing old items.

“Really, The Repair Shop is all about the human condition,” he says. “How this translates for me as we plan digital-first events, is that the one thing we’re all missing is that human element, the togetherness, that shared experience, and the story.”

The Repair Shop focuses on telling the story behind the item, and what it means to the owners.

“We in events are ultimately storytellers and if we’re telling a story, we must ensure we’re stating why it’s an important story to tell, and why it’s important to the audience. This is the engagement that I believe we’re all talking about. It’s not about polling or chat (these are certainly useful tools) but about keeping the audience interested in the outcome, how we tell the story to keep them engaged so they hang on to see how the story ends,” says Marcus.


2. Gogglebox: “Human communication is needed now more than ever”

As Global Head of Event Operations at SaaStock, Joe Byrne watched as the event industry was turned on its head in 2020.

Like so many of us, he got through it by taking heart from some of Netflix’s more lighthearted offers. And for Joe, the best of the best is Gogglebox.

“It’s basically a TV show about people watching TV shows. It highlights the best TV content out there, so it does the work for you. It promotes the best and worst of what TV has to offer,” he explains.

But as any Gogglebox fan will tell you, there’s way more to it than a lowdown of the latest TV.

“It's got entertainment, humor and heart,” says Joe.

For Joe, it’s these three qualities that make it stand out. And that’s exactly what the virtual event world needs more of.

“It's brilliantly edited and shows the power of human connection — which is needed now more than ever. These are all qualities a virtual event should try and replicate and emulate where possible,” he says.


3. Sex Education: “Honesty is the most engaging type of content”

Image source: Netflix

Eben Meyer, Managing Partner at The Social Effect, is a big fan of great TV — and for him, Netflix’s standout show is Sex Education (and we couldn’t agree more).

“It's gotta be Sex Education,” says Eben, “It's honest. It's emotional. It's not afraid to admit that we are all a little bit weird, a bit different, a bit taboo.”

The UK-based comedy-drama sees insecure teen Otis battle with his overly sexualized sex-therapist mother as he develops his own understandings about intimacy. Oh, and he starts working as an under-the-radar sex therapist himself at school too. 😅

For Eben, it’s the show’s straight-to-the-guts honesty that shines brightest — and that’s that element he’s fed into his own marketing work.

“Honesty is the most engaging type of content, and it's what people trust and love to see,” he explains, “And it doesn't hurt if it's entertaining too!”



4. The West Wing: “Attendees need to learn and be entertained”

Image source: IMDb

For marketing ace Adrian Cohn, Head of Marketing at Smartling, the best thing on Netflix right now is an oldie but a goodie.

“I'm rewatching all of The West Wing, top to bottom. Aaron Sorkin's script writing is brilliant! Throughout the series, Sorkin appeals to our wide range of emotions, and he keeps the pace fast,” he says.

And Adrian thinks virtual events should do the same.

“Virtual events have to do the same. While people show up to learn, you can make the content creative and engaging so that people walk away having learned and been entertained,” he says.


5. Call My Agent!: “Great virtual events need a clear vision and strong leadership”

Image source: IMDb

Josh King, Sales & Marketing Director at EMC3, knows what it takes to build an awesome virtual event.

And for him, those lessons are all wrapped up into one particular Netflix comedy: Call My Agent!

“Marketing and events professionals can learn a lot from Netflix: the captivating storytelling, the stunning production, and the amazing UI/UX. And there’s one show on Netflix I just can’t stop watching. Call My Agent! — also known as Dix Pour Cent in French, or Ten Percent — is a beautifully crafted Parisian comedy-drama that follows the lives of several protagonists who work for the fictional Talent Agency, ASK,” explains Josh.


The show provides irreverent insights into agency life with a playful poignance that engrosses you from the get-go.

Call My Agent! highlights some of the key challenges we’re facing in a modern-day society that glorifies overworking and a hustle hard culture,” he says.

Josh believes there are five key factors that make Call My Agent! — and great virtual events — stand out above the rest.

Call My Agent! is a compelling didactic depiction that focuses on team dynamics and social psychology that has influenced our approach to virtual events in the following ways…”

Here’s how Josh breaks it down:

  1. Leadership and vision: During the first episode, the agency owner and patriarch, Samuel Kerr, passes away initiating a power struggle within the team. It quickly emerges they all have very different visions for the business which ultimately results in conflict, and chaos unfolds. For any business — or business activity such as a virtual event — you need a clear vision and strong leadership to be successful.
  1. Having the right team in place is essential: Call My Agent! explores the good, the bad and the ugly sides of human nature, and spotlights the impact high pressure situations can have. For your event to be a success, your team needs to work seamlessly together and be aligned in working towards the same vision. Lots of businesses understaff their virtual events which can detract from the experience and cause unnecessary stress.
  1. You have to have a Plan B: Life isn’t perfect. Sometimes you have to produce creative solutions to complex problems. Always have contingency plans in place and be prepared to think on your feet — or surround yourselves with people who make a living solving problems!
  1. Attention to detail makes all the difference: ASK Talent Agency work with some of the most discerning clientele in the world, so they have to be meticulous in their approach and give all their clients the white glove treatment. Think of all of your virtual attendees as VIP’s. Create audience-centric experiences and clearly map out attendee journeys to ensure you deliver the best experiences possible. There’s so much webinar white noise at the moment and businesses everywhere are running virtual events, so competition for attention is higher than ever before. Carefully curate your experiences to delight your audience.
  1. Finding the right talent is key: I can’t talk about Call My Agent! and not mention speakers and talent. The right talent can make or break a virtual event. They are a great draw for attendees and can add a certain je ne sais quoi to the experience you create. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most inspiring and influential speakers from around the world over the last few years including Michelle Obama, Serena Williams and George Clooney. It’s important to work with a Talent Manager who takes the time to understand your vision, your values, and your event, and make the best recommendations for you — I’d always recommend reaching out to Anna Ford.

 

A one-way ticket to Netflix-ish stardom

There’s no doubt about it: Netflix is shaping the future of virtual events.

From the out-of-this-world UI to their dedication to audience needs, Netflix has given virtual event marketers a ton of fuel for their fires.But there’s one piece of the puzzle that brings it all together: 

The right virtual event platform.

With Goldcast you can create bingeworthy events your audience will love, while gathering deep account-level insights that lead to closed revenue. Find out why companies like Drift, Smartling, and Microsoft GitHub use Goldcast to create virtual events that feel just like your favorite Netflix show.


Prove your event ROI. Try Goldcast for your next event.

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