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How Smashing Media engaged attendees for an average of 13 hours on Hopin


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Back in 2006, Smashing Media began as an online, educational publication that wrote articles for web designers and developers. Now, Smashing Media offers online articles, a print publication, books, a membership and even regular conferences and workshops.

Smashing Media’s challenge

Each year, Smashing Media hosts SmashingConf San Francisco, an in-person event for hundreds of people in San Francisco, USA. SmashingConf is a playful, fun conference — with lego and drawing challenges, a live DJ, and competitions.

This year, the Smashing team moved the event from in-person to virtual with the primary goal: Bring the same fun atmosphere of an in-person SmashingConf to their new virtual SmashingConf.

They knew a video call or webinar platform wouldn’t create this experience, so they started searching for virtual event platforms.

How SmashingConf created an on-brand virtual event experience that engaged attendees from start to finish

Amanda Annandale, Head of Events for Smashing Media, says the key to engagement at an online conference is making sure attendees feel involved in the experience.

And that’s why she chose Hopin as the virtual event platform for SmashingConf.

One of the main reasons Hopin won us over is that attendees feel like they’re a part of it. We’d have been a bit stuck this year [without Hopin]. We wouldn’t have been able to develop and be ourselves as much.

—Amanda Annandale, Head of Events for Smashing Media

Annandale went on to explain that Hopin’s innovative features — like its multiple rooms and video 1:1s — allowed the Smashing team to do more than just settle for a passable virtual event. With Hopin, they could use their creativity and bring their unique brand to life.

From beginning to end, the two-day SmashingConf San Francisco virtual conference showed off Smashing Media’s fun brand, bright colors, and red cat mascot.

To welcome attendees and show them how to use Hopin, the Smashing Media team created a welcome message inside Hopin’s reception room, the first room attendees see upon entering the event. This message introduced attendees to the Hopin platform, explaining how they could enter different rooms, customize their user profile, chat with attendees and more.

The event content kicked off with a live DJ playing music on the main stage.

Throughout the day, attendees could join different educational sessions and 1:1 video networking. “People absolutely love [the networking feature],” says Annandale.

Using Hopin’s Expo feature, event attendees visited different sponsor booths where sponsors chose between showing on-demand video or presenting live to anyone in the booth.

Smashing Media also brought their brand voice to life within Hopin polls, asking attendees playful questions like “How many alarm clocks did you set on your phone today?”

Two members of the Smashing Media team hosted this event and attendees even joined in, sharing their screens and audio as hundreds of other attendees watched and participated in the chat.

Highest-quality engagement

328 attendees joined the live SmashingConf San Francisco, over a 94% attendance rate. The average attendee spent 12.85 hours in the event. “Which is impressive as our main content was 14 hours long,” says Annandale.

The virtual event was such a success that Annandale, once a skeptic of hybrid events, now plans to run future SmashingConf events as hybrid events, with both an in-person and virtual option. She says she was never interested in hybrid events “until we started looking at Hopin.”

What attendees said about SmashingConf San Francisco:
“Excellent work and great speaker line up. This has been one of my favorite conference experiences.”
“Such an amazing achievement around the world — all virtually! Really enjoyed it!”
“Really like the Smashing vibe.”
“No complaints. Exceptional!”

Originally published Sep 01, 2022, updated Nov 03, 2023

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