The move to a “digital world” where information is readily available at all hours, opinions are shared widely on social media, and mobile technology is pervasive, consumer expectations are higher than ever before. Customers willingly share data about themselves and, in return, they expect companies to interact with them on a more personal level. This doesn’t only apply to their online life either; they expect companies to know them online and in the real world and provide an integrated, customized – and ideally unique – experience
Event professionals feel this pressure in the audience’s ever-increasing boredom at traditional PowerPoint with a lecture general sessions, all hands meetings – any kind of event really. The big question on everyone’s mind is “How do I increase audience engagement?” And the answer lies in giving the customer what they want. Here are 3 ways you can increase audience engagement using data and technology.
Interactive content, before the show, on-site, and post-event: Thanks to the wonderful world of marketing and event tech, there are SO many things you can do here. Start early and shape your general session or all hands meeting content through polls, both on social media, on your website, in newsletters, and during registration. The more your audience is involved in creating event content, the more engaged they’ll be. Even letting them vote on one session is a start.
On-site, in-session polls – and their immediate results – displayed on the big screen during general sessions are another way to keep audiences engaged. Or segment your audience by job function, industry, seniority, etc. for birds of a feather assigned seating at lunch. This is particularly useful at large events where personalization can be more difficult. For each group, create a ‘birds of the feather’ social channel for members’ pre-, on-site, and post-show connection – think about assigning a ‘bird’ of your own to lead the conversation.
Create an interactive post-show brief – short video, interactive PDF, interactive web page – with event highlights and key educational takeaways that your attendees can refer back to, or even share with their colleagues and bosses. Etc., etc., etc. Sit down and brainstorm and we’re confident you’ll come up with PLENTY of other ideas. Or contact us and we’ll brainstorm with you!
Use beacons for real-time interaction: Have you heard of beacons and geofencing? They’re relatively new and super sci-fi – maybe even a little spooky. You place a beacon somewhere you’d like to deliver a message and, lo and behold when someone walks by who has your mobile event app downloaded a pop-up is triggered with your message. For example, when someone walks in the door, up pops the ‘Welcome’ message; or maybe they’re headed to a hard to locate room and pass by a beacon that pops up step-by-step directions.
Social media walls are always fun: I’m sure you’ve seen the big monitors – maybe a whole wall? – using something like LiveWall that stream the latest from your Twitter feed (#yourevent2017) right to your general session audience. I have two words: pictures, seeds. OK, maybe I need to use more words. It can be really fun to watch these and keep your audience’s mind on the event even while they’re waiting for the keynote speaker, but only if the content is fun and relevant. You need to plant the seeds to make sure content lives up to its potential. Have a smart and witty staff member interacting with attendees that tweet, hold a contest, use a photographer or photobooth during event parties and share pictures the next day – again – the only limit is your imagination. But it’s always best to have a strategy and guide your social media rather than just leave it up to chance.
And you MUST have a mobile event app: Mobile event apps are de rigueur for user experience and engagement. While they may seem most appropriate for bigger or longer events, high-value events also benefit due to the pre- and post-show opportunities for engagement. Before an event, build excitement with content from upcoming speakers, insights into show prep, and exclusive show updates. Allow people to personalize their event experience through session and party selection and planning, and even travel arrangements. On-site, make registration a snap and provide easy ways to find directions and other attendees. Some mobile apps like Swapcard even have an attendee matchmaking algorithm to facilitate networking, and let them chat directly with each other through the app. Develop programs that encourage app usage and you’ll benefit from the engagement, the planet will benefit from your paper savings, and your sponsors can even benefit from setting up a digital presence (depending on your app selection). Win win win!