The organization focused on delivering high-quality, audience experiences, despite online limitations
By Betsy Osman, AAEA Member
The Illinois Soybean Association’s annual Soybean Summit event has built a reputation for providing rich professional development opportunities, leading expert engagement, agribusiness networking, and a much-anticipated retreat for farmers eager to reunite with longtime colleagues from across the state of Illinois.
And because engagement is such a critical component of a successful event, this year’s virtual setting challenged us to deliver high-quality audience experiences, provide spaces for authentic connections, and set the stage for in-depth topic-specific conversations.
Themed, “Say Hello: Home Edition,” the 2021 Soybean Summit user experience began with a seamless registration process which directed attendees to the virtual event platform, promoted heavily by social media posts, teasers, and content-driven shares. Days after registration, event participants received a special “Hello” gift box in the mail, complete with event swag and soy-centric goodies.
Over the three-day event series, participants enjoyed presentations from industry experts who shared the latest agronomic insights, sustainable production and agribusiness management advice, along with actionable recommendations to improve farmer yields, sustainably, and boost bottom lines. Some of this year’s Soybean Summit speakers include: Dr. Shawn Conley, State Soybean and Wheat Specialist; Molly Stalker, East Region Specialty Grains Leader at Cargill; Laurie Bedord, Executive Editor, Ag Technology, Meredith Agrimedia; and Mike Wilson, Director of Content, Farm Futures.
But without facial feedback, body language, and venue rooms humming with casual conversation, we had to rely on technology to take our audience’s temperature and let us know we’d hit our mark. Event attendees actively engaged in opportunities to attend break-out sessions, pose live-time questions to speakers, and participate in polls through the event platform which offered our team a structured way to collect data for communication preferences, event satisfaction, event engagement, and interest levels in a quantifiable way.
These valuable virtual additions enabled us to nurture connections and build long-term event brand equity, despite the narrow nature of online interaction.
Did we miss seeing our friends, farmers and colleagues? Definitely. But did the 2021 Soybean Summit still manage to deliver an explosion of insights and power-packed content?
Betsy Osman is the content manager for the Illinois Soybean Association.