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Is there a good time to start a business? Convention and common sense suggest it would be crazy to start a new venture in the midst of one of the worst economic downturns in living history. But we’re creatives. And creatives turn any challenge into an opportunity.

As Steve Jobs once said, “creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while”.

And that’s what happened: we saw a shift.

Over the past decade, there’s been an obvious and steady move from physical to digital, but the acceleration it had during lockdown—three years of growth in just three months—will have a lasting impact on the way we tell stories, we create experiences and communities. Most importantly, we will have to build revolutionary moments for brands and creators to connect with new audiences on new platforms.

It was at the beginning of 2021 that we simply stopped thinking about “when things get back to normal” and started working with this new reality and its inevitable buzzwords:

  • Hybrid: the best definition for this term is simply “the new black”. Hybrid goes with everything, from the future of work to new formats of events. It used to be an emergency solution, one you adopted when unforeseen circumstances would not allow you to meet or work in person. It has now become one of the many available scenarios, with its sets of strategies for engagement, revenue and experience building. When it comes to events, “hybrid” is a wonderful option to combine the advantages of virtual events (on-demand, comfortable access to content that focuses on knowledge transmission) with the attractiveness of in-person networking.

  • Engagement: the biggest challenge when it comes to virtual events, marketing campaigns and content. In a world where you must compete for attention with thousands of other on-screen experiences, how can you make sure attendees and readers stay in front of their screens and - more importantly - interact? A challenge that many virtual events platforms have tried to solve with gamification, networking and chat options, matchmaking or exhibition space and event planners have combined with offline complements to create this feeling of cohesion and sharing. According to both industry surveys and feedback we had from our clients, online event engagement remains one of the most difficult challenges.

  • Remote: a consequence of the pandemic for many, a reality for others over years already - remote work has become as common as “remote” events and teams. We at Shifted have a distributed model with teams and talent spread across different locations. We find this set-up has a lot of advantages (no expensive overheads for instance) and agree that it needs to be compensated by in-person reunions that help keep the spirit and culture alive. The combination of asynchronous work of in-person brainstorming allows creative professionals to work with flexible schedules while feeding their busy minds with new ideas and interactions.

  • Zoom Fatigue: the increasing reluctance to stay connected to a device and participate in a virtual meeting or event. Some argue this is not caused by the fact that we already spend too many hours in front of our screens, but rather down to the overwhelming number of options available and the scarcity of good content that truly adds value to the audience. We tend to think this is a combination of both and believe that virtual solutions need to get better in the future, both on a technological and content level.

  • Community: what has kept us together while we were apart. It is also what a lot of event professionals and marketers have discovered to be essential to create long-lasting engagement. We need communities more than ever, especially in this hybrid and virtual world, where a lot of people are working remotely and yearn for meaningful connections on a personal and professional level. That is also why we started Shifted as a community, providing a space for creative talent to connect, work together, share experiences and opportunities.

  • Crypto: it literally means secret, but in the world of blockchain-based projects it actually stands for the opposite. For instance, cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual currencies secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers. Blockchain technology is also revolutionizing art, which takes us to our next buzzword.

  • NFTs: Non-fungible tokens. What, if anything, could convince you the image above is worth $530 million? The simplest way to put it, NFTs transform digital works of art and other collectibles into one-of-a-kind assets that are easy to trade on the blockchain and cannot be replicated.

Our 2021 Projects: surfing the digitization wave

We started the year in a pretty much “locked down” claustrophobic nightmare, and the logical consequence for many corporations and public entities was to focus on online strategies. In order to stand out and really make a difference in such an environment, though, what we needed to come up with are new and substantially different ideas of how to attract, engage and retain the audience through content.

One example was the Content Marketing campaign we created together with the Porto & North Convention Bureau, aiming to increase awareness and change the perception of this region to one of a forward-thinking, innovative and sustainable destination. We achieved this by involving some of the region's most dynamic and innovative business leaders, who shared their experience and responses to present time challenges while taking the audience on field trips to their companies (as soon as this was safely possible). After an 8-month duration campaign, Porto & North has over 1.700 organic new followers on LinkedIn, the perception has clearly shifted and new opportunities have been generated.

Other subscription-based content marketing projects we have been working on this year include BRIDGE IN, where the content and SEO-driven strategy has brought the company to rank in the first page of Google searches for many relevant keywords and increased the inbound leads count by 65%.

It was in the last quarter of 2021 when the world (especially Europe) decided to go back to in-person events and everyone was keen to be part of this boom. Web Summit has attracted many people and companies to come to Lisbon and Shifted has had the opportunity to work with Made of Lisboa (Lisbon’s municipality) creating and managing the strategy of its participation at this worldwide renowned event. Our Shifters also collaborated with DAOmaker, co-organizing their Crypto Event and managed the hybrid version of the Lisbon Tourism Summit with Beta-i and Turismo de Portugal that brought together important voices from the tourism industry and included an in-person networking moment.

Check out some more details and videos from these projects HERE.

What will 2022 hold in store?

Only one thing is certain - uncertainty will keep accompanying us again next year. Back to normal is a concept of the past: the new normal is an ever-evolving reality that requires flexibility.

What we have learnt from this year: when restrictions eased and regulations allowed for in-person events to happen again, there was a boom of live events. People are still sociable creatures and an in-person experience continues to be irreplaceable.

We remain confident that resilience will pay off, lean company structures and distributed teams will provide big advantages and that events will remain an important part of most brands’ marketing and communication strategies.

Be it hybrid (with a trend to asynchronous events) or in-person - Shifted will be there to make them happen with you!

Follow us on Linkedin and Instagram to stay in touch and see our shifters in action!

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