“Learn to pivot” has been the mantra for 2020. Like most businesses, March 2020 was a challenging time for us on the Red Hat marketing team. With COVID-19 spreading across the world, and businesses sending their employees to work from home, it became clear that Red Hat Summit, scheduled to be hosted in April in San Francisco, could not go on as planned.

By mid-March we were in full pivot mode to change Red Hat Summit, the premier open source technology conference, from an in-person event to a full digital experience. The challenge – that the event would still immerse our attendees in everything that makes a Red Hat event special. It was certainly an exciting ride, and on April 27, we opened the Summit virtual experience to the world. In the end, we had more than 50,000 attendees from more than 100 countries visit the live environment. We learned a lot of lessons along the way - below are a few successes we had while pulling off this event, and a one tip for improving a virtual experience.

Success #1: Be authentic to your brand

Red Hat has a unique, open culture that is at the heart of everything we do as an organization, and we try to make sure that culture is well-represented in our events. While shifting to a virtual event environment, we knew we needed to keep that Red Hat community feel, even though we wouldn’t be in person. That meant following some of the same guidelines we’d use for an in-person event, including:

  • Give attendees access to Red Hatters: At a live event, you’d do this in booths and one on one meetings. In our virtual events, we did this through chat rooms and “ask the experts” live sessions.

  • Make customers the star of the show: Red Hat products enable our customer to do some amazing things, and just like at a live Summit, we showcased their successes through customer keynotes, breakout sessions and our Red Hat Innovation Awards program.

  • Keep things fun: There’s always a lot to do at Summit, beyond attending keynotes and breakout sessions. We added open source games, challenges for completing tasks in the environment and opportunities to win prizes to the virtual experience to bring some of the excitement of Summit into attendees’ homes.

  • We were surprised at how well the gamification of the environment worked for helping with engagement numbers. Over 26,000 attendees earned at least one badge for watching keynotes, exploring the environment, and interacting with content from programs like Red Hat Innovation Awards.

#red hat’s #machine-learning #red hat innovation awards program.

What we learned shifting Red Hat’s premier event
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