Salesforce’s Dreamforce returned Sept. 21-23, at Moscone Center in San Francisco, one of the city’s largest in-person events held since COVID-19 began. Themed as a “global family reunion,” the hybrid event offered panels hosted by Soledad O’Brien, cinematic live broadcasts, entertainment, including a performance by the Foo Fighters, celebrity speakers Will Smith, Jason Sudeikis and Jane Fonda, as well as community-building programming and philanthropy.
The Dreamforce experience included a 100-percent outdoors, invite-only experience on-site for 1,000 people, while the virtual experience was broadcast globally on Salesforce+, the brand’s new, free streaming service that launched during the event and featured original content tracks for the global attendee base. The event drew 167 million social stream views from 177 countries with 120 hours of content broadcast on four different channels. The brand also invited attendees to customize their event experience by industry and topic (such as sustainability) to enjoy a more personalized, Netflix-like experience.
“The days are here where we have to be thinking about not either an in-person or digital experience, but how you do both safely and simultaneously,” says Colin Fleming, senior vp-global brand, events, content and customer marketing at Salesforce. “The bar is higher today, and the key is building trust with your audience.”
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Fleming says Salesforce built trust with its audience—a large, diverse group of business leaders across industries—by making COVID-19 safety a top priority. Staff met daily with an epidemiologist before the event, and every Dreamforce attendee, employee and vendor were required to show both proof of vaccination and a negative test for the virus, with testing available on-site. Salesforce also launched Dreampass, a technology powered by Health Cloud 2.0 that enables robust and scalable COVID-19 safety protocols for in-person event attendees, including attendee registration management, vaccine and testing status verification and testing vendor integration to help issue testing kits. Dreampass grants admission upon integrated test results with a personalized QR code. In the event of possible COVID exposure or changing protocol, notifications and messaging is sent directly to attendees.
As the ways in which audiences consume content continues to evolve, Fleming says that production now focuses on more concise, purposeful experiences to satisfy shorter attention spans. The event itself was also shortened by one and a half days, and it set the tone for what future digital experiences will look like—not just moments in time, he says, but through ongoing content journeys that build trust and give audiences experiences to take with them.
“What does an event now even mean? The ability to reach global audiences is now more online with more countries and markets than ever before,” says Fleming. “Salesforce brings live and digital experiences together on one platform. We will never look back. We will never go back to the way things were done before.”
Fleming recommends that marketers prioritize trust and safety over revenue, invest in key market live events and blend live and original content. By experimenting with and making long-term investments in new technologies, virtual sponsorship opportunities and a mix of content styles (such as pre-recorded with live elements), he says, audiences will continue to engage. Agency: George P. Johnson, San Francisco.
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Photo credit: Jakub Mosur Photography