Look for Ways to Improve: Always ask for feedback and pay attention to what your audience wants next! Although Live Rooms has been successful on the platform, our team is constantly looking for ways to do better for our users. Being malleable and open to change is important when working in an innovative industry currently focused on connection and real emotions.
As a part of our series about “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daren Tsui.
Daren Tsui joined IMVU in October 2017 as CEO. Daren was previously SVP Content & Services for Samsung Electronics where he ran content and services. Before that, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of MSpot, a company acquired by Samsung for it’s Music Hub, which provided both a streaming catalog, cloud music storage, radio and store.
Thank you for joining us in this interview series, Daren. Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
I’m a product person at heart. I love to dissect products to understand what is the delight or value proposition that will make them successful. When I interviewed with IMVU 3 years ago, I dug into the product trying to understand its appeal. I recall being in a room with another avatar and we landed on an animation node where we hugged. I panicked and rambled apologizing to the other person for possibly being inappropriate, but then I relaxed and realized I had very likely made a new friend. The experience felt so real and that was the lightbulb moment for me! I saw the way people will socialize authentically online and I wanted everyone to experience it.
For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing events in general?
Personally, I’m not an event coordinator. However, we talk to our users all the time and learned about how they would like to coordinate and experience events on IMVU with their friends. We knew this was a popular idea even before the pandemic. Coordinating get-togethers range from simple and casual such as “let’s all hangout in my virtual living room” to sophisticated massive events such as the Spirit World Music Festival or Pabllo Vittar Halloween Club Night.
An in-person event can have a certain electric energy. How do you create an engaging and memorable event when everyone is separated and in their own homes? What are the “Five Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event” and why?
The pandemic took a hard hit on everyone this year, and at IMVU we strive to create a welcoming community for everyone. We existed before the pandemic, and we will be here once this passes. This year we saw record-breaking growth in content creators and overall IMVU usage, not to mention 18,000 Live Events a month. It became clear that this year, authentic human connection was the goal for those looking to escape reality during this time, and events took off as a way to fill the void from our real life social lives.
Right before the pandemic in December 2019 IMVU launched Live Rooms, a new product feature on the platform that enables users to virtually broadcast, entertain, show, demonstrate, or present to a larger group of people — just like they would during an IRL (in-real-life) presentation. There have been nearly a half-million scheduled events in Live Rooms which range from fashion shows, to concerts, to talk show formats and have with nearly a half-billion attendees around the world.
We architected Live Rooms to be a space for everyone and anyone who wants to be part of the IMVU community, learn from each other or interact. My advice to run successful events would be:
- Know your Audience: IMVU has many different types of users, and we wanted each user to feel like they could share their own unique values on the platform. While we are all separate during covid, it’s important to create pathways for everyone to feel connected. Since March, over 474,000 unique events have been scheduled across the platform.
- Create Interactive Experiences: When users are active on IMVU, they are constantly interacting with other users. Since the pandemic, we noticed more often that users were looking for ways to be creative and show off their interests and talents. Overall, the creator community hit roughly 50,000 new creators just this year and submit more than 400,000 new digital items per month (they were busy!) — proving that users were looking for an outlet to show their latest collections for avatars and room customization. Offering Live Rooms gave users the chance to be the star of their own show, and at the same time, give other users the chance to interact live.
- Be A Good Host: Based on our user research, we found that the most successful events on the IMVU platform were from the hosts that went out of their way to create an experience that was engaging and creative. For example, some of our hosts created beautifully decorated rooms for an inviting space for guests. Additionally, these hosts welcomed guests, introduced friends, and focused on the fun to be had in the events for others.
- Promote Authentically: Consumers know when brands are representing an authentic experience or if it’s just another marketing scheme to buy products. We created and promoted Live Rooms to enhance the user experience and offer a new way to interact over the platform.For our IMVU hosts, they have been successful in promoting their events on the platform. Through posting on their feed and being able to invite their friends and fellow-users, they can easily get word to interested audiences.
- Look for Ways to Improve: Always ask for feedback and pay attention to what your audience wants next! Although Live Rooms has been successful on the platform, our team is constantly looking for ways to do better for our users. Being malleable and open to change is important when working in an innovative industry currently focused on connection and real emotions.
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a live virtual event that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
The first thing I would suggest is to think about the type of audience you want to focus on and then how to expand your reach. It’s important to consider that now anyone can have a live event, given social media platforms can quickly become a stage for anyone. It’s more about the quality of your event and what you’re planning on bringing to the table. Ask yourself if your community would be interested, and ask for input. Continue to ask questions about logistics and if things will translate virtually versus a real-life event. There are some things that virtual events won’t be able to match, but there is always creativity in the energy that the event gives off to its audience that can still be felt no matter where they are.
Thank you for these great insights.