‘We Still Need That Connection’; How Authentic, User-Generated Video Content Powered by Gather Voices Maximized Engagement at Virtual 2021 CODiE Awards 

The CODiE Awards has been honoring excellence in education and business technology for more than 35 years, recognizing thousands of technology products that have been changing the way we live our lives and conduct our businesses. 

Typically, the CODiE Awards winner announcements happen live in San Francisco, bringing people together for a dinner and celebration. But during the Covid-19 pandemic, the CODiE Awards ceremonies were held virtually. That’s why, for the 2021 CODiE Awards, the team understood that they had to make the winner announcements extra special. 

One approach they took was to incorporate user-generated video content before, during and after the winner announcement ceremony. For example, instead of simply showing photos of the winners as they were being recognized, 2021 CODiE Awards winners recorded acceptance speeches that were played during the event. (The example here is 2021 CODiE winner: Rethink Ed Social and Emotional Learning and Mental Health.)

Using Gather Voices, a technology company that automates the creation, management and publishing of video content, the team secured more than 220 authentic videos from people across the country, including acceptance speeches, testimonials, and speaker remarks, in just 5 weeks.

“The participants really liked the experience and seeing their friends and peers on screen,” said Jenny Baranowski, managing director of the CODiE Awards. “Gather Voices made the video capture and recording option simple and straightforward, even for the most camera-shy individuals. Everyone looked and sounded great.”

The personal and heartfelt video touches combined with the suspense and CODiE Awards gravitas provided the virtual audience with many reasons to watch and stay. Chad Alger-Hardt, vice president of marketing at Gather Voices, shares key insights and best practices for organizations who are looking to include more video components into their strategy. 

Why is user-generated video critical to creating more engagement at virtual events? 

“When putting on a virtual event, you have to find a way to make the event engaging and exciting. User-generated video is one of those ways,” said Alger-Hardt. “For example, during the 2021 CODiE Awards winner announcement, we offered a ‘virtual video kiosk’ within the platform, where attendees answered questions about what the CODiE Awards means to them.” 

This approach made virtual event attendees active participants in the event, instead of passive consumers of content, which is a much more engaging experience. And, the content can continue to be used to drive impact even after the event is over. “After the show, the content was combined into a hive and repurposed to help promote the awards next year,” said Alger-Hardt. “It’s also just fun, good content to use throughout the year.”

What kind of video content should I ask people to create? 

When considering prompts for user-generated video content, Alger-Hardt recommends that organizations stay insight driven. This produces content pieces that are not only valuable promotional assets, but that give the organization into how it can best meet the needs of its community. 

“For example, what is the best accomplishment from 2021 that you’ve achieved and how is that impacting what you’re going to be doing in 2022?” Alger-Hardt said. “What are your biggest business hurdles for 2022? That sort of insight and content is relevant because it enables the organization to react to it and then you can also share it with the rest of the membership and your community—and build on top of that. It keeps you really relevant.”

How can I encourage more people to co-create video content with my organization?

“The simplest way to encourage more people to co-create video content with your organization is to embed the request for video content into your existing workflows,” said Alger-Hardt. “Gather Voices clients have found success by encouraging people to submit videos along with their nomination for an award and including a direct link to record a testimonial video in their event wrap-up emails.

“The other way is through direct, personal outreach. Every organization has thought leaders, influencers and rising stars within their community who are eager to share their ideas. Simply picking up the phone and inviting them to co-create content with you is a great way to gather impactful content and create more engagement.”

What new ways will video be incorporated into the 2022 CODiE Awards?

Even as in-person meetings resume, authentic, user-generated video content offers a unique and engaging way to humanize awards and recognition programs. That’s why the CODiE Awards team plans to follow the blueprint established in 2021 in the years ahead. 

“One of the things I’m most excited about is that, as a part of the nomination process, entrants are being asked to make a video to talk about why they are nominating the organization and how the organization excels within its category,” Alger-Hardt said. “That additional content is going to be really helpful, not only for the judges in reviewing the entries—they’ll be able to hear nominees’ words in a more three-dimensional way—but it’s also great content that can be shared and created into something for later. I’m excited to see what we build.”

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