How to Run an Engaging In-Person, Hybrid and, Virtual Awards Ceremony

Plan an Unforgettable In-Person, Hybrid or Virtual Awards Ceremony

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Photo of many golden awards.

Did you know that the first awards ceremony happened in ancient Greece? The event was financed by the wealthiest citizens and awarded the best play, producer, and actor in tragedy and comedy. 

Nowadays, all fields have some type of awards ceremony. From academic to employee awards, every community gets excited about celebrating the key achievements of a colleague (or about being the one receiving a prize!). 

Here are three examples of how some hybrid, in-person and virtual awards ceremonies use social walls to engage attendees:

Engagement at an awards ceremony

The goal of an awards ceremony is to celebrate the accomplishments of the members of a community. Since you’ll honor specific people, the least you can do for the non-award receivers is offer them a good time. 

Your awards ceremony should primarily be an experience that all attendees will enjoy. And since humans are social creatures, part of that is creating an event that fosters interaction and communication.

Therefore, here are 5 ideas to plan an engaging in-person, hybrid, or virtual awards ceremony.

1. Create buzz on a social wall

A social wall can help you create buzz around your hybrid or virtual awards ceremony. 

Before the ceremony, add posts announcing the exact date and time of the event to the social wall. If there is any requirement to attend the event, you can also display these on the wall.

During the event, build suspense by announcing the finalists. Let attendees interact with the wall by collecting their social media posts tagged with your hashtag. 

After the event, add photos of the winners receiving the awards and keep the celebration longer. If you plan another awards ceremony soon after (like Study UK, example below), promote it on the same social wall. 

Complement your awards ceremony with a social wall!

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Study UK Alumni Awards — hybrid awards ceremony 

Study UK created a social wall to bring Alumni Award winners from all over the world together.  

The Alumni Awards celebrate leaders in different fields who have used their experience of studying at a UK university to positively contribute to their communities, professions, and countries.  

Given the international nature of these awards (winners and finalists represent 27 UK universities and 16 countries), the ceremony takes place in-person or virtually, depending on the COVID-19 measures of each country.  

Photo of Alumni Award winner in Greece featured in their social wall. (virtual awards ceremony)
Photo of Alumni Award winner in Greece featured in their social wall.
Social media wall from an awards ceremony. The image shows winners and finalists, event announcements, just like messages from people thanking for the prize.
Here you find a unified feed that showcases winners and finalists, event announcements, just like messages from people thanking for the prize.

Study UK uses their social wall to create buzz around winners before, during, and after the awards ceremony.

2. Pair sponsors with UGC on a social wall

 A social media wall paired with attendee-generated content is the perfect solution if you are looking for a sponsor for your virtual awards ceremony. has the Sponsored Posts feature, perfect for making money by offering ad placements to your event’s sponsors. UnidosUS, for example, made sure that their sponsors received a prominent advertisement space on the event’s official social feed. 

A social wall with Sponsored Posts makes ads blend naturally with the user-generated content posted by fans on the social media wall. Each ad can link to a relevant landing page provided by the sponsors.

UnidosUS Capital — virtual awards ceremony

UnidosUS Capital Awards recognize Latinx leaders that inspired the community to vote in the 2020 Census. They created a microsite for the virtual event and embedded a social wall to make the ceremony more engaging for everyone. 

Their social wall featured ads by T-Mobile, Prudential, and Marriott International. This is an excellent way of giving special recognition to sponsors while also seeing photos from award winners and fans.

Screenshot of a social wall from UnidosUS Capital Awards. The image shows a sponsored post by T-mobile mixed with UGC. (virtual awards ceremony)
Social wall from UnidosUS Capital Awards.

Attract sponsors with a social wall!

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3. Tie everything together with a hashtag

More and more events already do this anyway, but it bears repeating: a hashtag is a great way to tie your awards ceremony together online and offline. 

Setting up a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram gives attendees a shared online space to talk about your event. It also makes it easier for them to connect offline, for example, by meeting in a social media corner to continue their conversations face-to-face.

It’s important to consistently use your hashtag before, during and after the event. Ask your fans and spokesperson to adopt the hashtag as well!

Home Barista of The Year — virtual awards ceremony

Lovin Dublin is a blog dedicated to helping people discover the best of the city. From restaurants to recipes, the site offers a wide range of foodie content. 

They also partnered with two brands to sponsor the competition Home Barista of the Year, in which the winner receives a professional coffee machine and food vouchers. 

They set up a social media wall on their website to feature all contestants’ submissions. Anyone willing to compete has to post a photo of their best homemade coffee to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #HomeBaristaOfTheYear.

Screenshot of a social wall from Home Barista of the Year competition. showing photos of latte art and regular coffee cups.
Social wall from Home Barista of The Year competition.

4. Make the event inclusive by going hybrid

A social wall fosters interaction between attendees and gives people who can’t attend a way to follow along from home.

People with disabilities might not feel safe attending an in-person event as some venues are not accessible enough or simply because they feel better at home. Others might find it challenging to participate because of the prevalence of COVID-19 infection risk. 

An event that offers both in-person and virtual experiences shows a high level of inclusivity for everyone, as at-home viewers can still interact through social media. 

Nicklaus-Jacklin Award — in-person and virtual awards ceremony

The Nicklaus–Jacklin Award commemorates the sportsmanship, teamwork and performance of expert golf players. This Wisconsin based awards ceremony recognized two winners in 2021. 

They feature a social wall in the award website where messages from at-home viewers and in-person attendees popped up, making the celebration even merrier.  

Screenshot of social wall from the Nicklaus–Jacklin Award.

One message, in particular, caught my attention. In the bottom right corner of the social wall image above is a tweet that reads: 

“@TheSergioGarcia @Sanderson_Champ [award winners] Really wishing you the best from here in Jackson Sergio! I would give anything to be there just to meet you but I’m 41 and disabled. I’m so proud of you winning the Nicklaus/Jacklin Award. You deserve it. I’ve watched you since we were both 19 back in 1999. Love you brother!” 

This tweet comes to show the importance of inclusivity via a social wall for an awards ceremony. 

Engage your at-home attendees with a social wall!

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5. Build suspense and engage attendees with on-site signage

I’ve noticed that social media walls at events function a bit like a campfire: people tend to congregate around a social wall, and it’s a great icebreaker for conversation. It also helps that people love seeing their own posts and photos pop up on the wall. 

A social wall can also help you build suspense before announcing the winners at an in-person or virtual awards ceremony. All you have to do is create simple graphics with the finalists’ photos and post them on social media or directly to the wall.  

The social wall will entertain the on-site attendees, as they will know who made the cut.  

Recruiter Awards — in-person awards ceremony

The Recruiter Awards gala is the UK’s largest event for the entire recruitment community recognizing outstanding achievements by agencies and in-house recruiters.

In 2021, this event went all out as they were also celebrating their 20th anniversary. 

Screenshot from the social wall at the Recruiter Awards 2021. The image reads: Set up is well on the way for #RecruiterAwards tonight, celebrating 20 years! Who is coming this evening?! #RecruiterWinner #RecruiterShortlist." (awards ceremony)

The awards ceremony at the Marriott Hotel featured an on-site digital signage screen that engaged all attendees all night long. 

As you can see in the image below, the screen with a social wall announced different competing categories during the party. Attendees could also post to the wall by posting on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #RecruiterAwards.

Photo from attendees dancing in front of a screen with a social wall at the Recruiter Awards 2021.
Recruiter Awards attendees having a blast. In the back, a screen with a social wall.

An in-person, hybrid or virtual awards ceremony is more engaging with a social wall

As you may have noticed from these 5 examples, a social wall is an excellent addition to an awards ceremony. This tool helps you create buzz around the event, add sponsored ads, bring offline and online attendees together, improve inclusivity and build suspense. 

Best of all is, arranging a social wall for awards ceremonies is the best way to lengthen a celebration.  

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