In order to monetize your efforts and spent resources while planning every detail of your event, you have to ensure that your audience is connected and that you increase event engagement while your attendees are getting an amazing experience before, during and after your event. Keeping your audience engaged means that they will attend the events you organize in the future again.
How can you realize that in a very competitive market, though? With the increasing technological advancements, there has been an increase in the distractions that people come across online. That is why we are providing you with a guide on how to increase your audience’s engagement to your event, at all its stages.
What is event engagement?
The forms of engagement differ from one platform to another; but generally, we can say that it is about creating a community around your event, rather than it just being about attending a one or two-day event.
Your audience has to be a part of your event, to participate and show enthusiasm about it. How focused are the attendees on your event’s activities and agenda? Do they take the actions that you drive them towards?
Increase engagement before your event:
Engagement with your event does not start during the event itself. It actually starts way before that. Attendees engage with an event days or weeks prior to it, in order to learn about its agenda or the guest speakers. The time leading to the event’s date is a great opportunity to generate leads and increase the audience’s awareness about your brand or your event details; so:
Expose your event on all platforms
Go big and start promoting your event on different social media channels and relevant forums. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Reddit…you won’t know which is the best performer until you explore them. Pin the event’s link and main details on the different social media channels, and add its banner to your website so that people would be able to interact with your event easily.
Create an event hashtag
Hashtags have become a powerful social tool to share content online; adding 1 or 2 hashtags to your post increases the engagement with it by 21%. So create a unique one for your event – a short, memorable and easy-to-understand hashtag that your audience would associate to your event. Encourage people to use it when posting about your event online, and share it whenever you communicate.
Connect to relevant groups online
Reach your audience where they are. Join the groups that they are members of, on Facebook for example, and start discussions with them on Quora and Reddit. If you reach the right audience, their engagement with your event will increase. These platforms will give them the opportunity to ask questions, and you the space to answer them and establish yourself as a matter expert in your field.
Create easy-to-share content
In order to widen the audience’s awareness about your event, you need to design content that will interest people enough to share it on their profile. People love videos! Facebook videos get 135% more organic reach than photos, so try to incorporate multimedia in your posts; and take enough time to craft a compelling message that will persuade people to click that “share” button and speak about it with their peers.
Organize online contests
Introduce a fun element in your event’s engagement plan and organize a contest. You could ask your audience to answer some trivia questions or to share a story that revolves around your event’s theme. These contests influence the audience’s awareness of the brand by 94%, and makes them more likely to share other content by the brand.
Connect to influencers
Discover influencer characters in the communities your audience follows, and partner with them to promote your event. If some of them had previously attended any of your events, ask them to share their experience. Building credibility and popularity among your audience comes from sharing their interests and reaching them through ways they’re familiar with, which includes influencers they like.
Send email updates
Once your attendees start registering to your event, engage them by sending updates on the agenda, speakers, sessions so that you build a rapport with them, even before the event actually takes place.
During your event:
It’s the awaited day you’ve been planning for a long while. In order to achieve the optimal situation of having the attendees participate in your event’s activities and sessions and interact heavily throughout your event, you have to take some steps to engage them. This is one of the important determinants of a successful event.
Place interactive setups or booths
Utilize the venue you’re hosting your event in, and install booths that are creatively designed and that attract attendees to it, such as setting up a photo booth or a phone charging area. Attendees love these lively gestures, and it will definitely excite them during your event.
Use an event app
The further technology advances, the more professionals are adopting the use of an event app. 63% of event organizers rely on event app technology to create an efficient and engaging networking platform for their attendees. The use of an event app will lower your costs and introduce new ways of communicating with your attendees and of them connecting together. It will also provide you with several methods of engaging your audience during your event, such as:
1.Stage a live poll
During your event, you could use polls as a way to engage the attendees and as a tool to understand their opinions on certain matters. The poll could be about a particular aspect of your event, their experience so far or a general inquiry related to the event’s theme. Staging a live poll would be facilitated using a mobile app; because instead of having to raise hands or collect answers on paper, attendees could view the poll and respond immediately using the app, and you receive the results in real-time as well.
2. Send in-app push notifications
Drive attendees towards specific sessions or certain exhibitors’ booths by sending them quick push notifications. The notifications are a great way to engage your audience with targeted messages and real-time updates about your event.
3. Host a Q&A session
Create and share a hashtag on social media on which attendees can ask questions, then host a Q&A session where you respond to their posts or tweets LIVE. Events apps modernize how Q&As are executed. Instead of the traditional means, attendees can ask and upvote popular questions quickly and easily using your event app.
Contests and competitions are a creative, entertaining way to encourage attendees to interact together. When planned well, they could engage your audience and liven your event; so you have to ensure that the competitions you organize are aligned with your event’s theme.
After your event:
Just as audience engagement starts a while before the event, it also lasts after the event has ended. Continuing to engage your audience after they’ve attended your event helps you get feedback from them about their experience and increases their loyalty to the brand. The weeks following your event are still an opportunity for you to continue realizing your goals of generating leads and making valuable connections with your audience. That is why you should:
Send thank you emails
It is a warm gesture to show your attendees that you appreciate their presence to your event, and an expression of how the attendees have been an essential part of your event’s success. Although it sounds simple, it helps in the formation of reliable relationships with your audience. At the end of the email, you could attach a quick survey that asks them to rate their experience at your event, and request feedback or any additional comments they have. This both makes the connection sincere, and provides you with valuable insight.
Publish your event’s highlights
A quick recap on the important details of your event engages the audience who have attended and excites those who wanted to attend but couldn’t. So publish an amusing video or a series of posts that give a comprehensive recap of the event highlights, within the first few days after your event.
Send personalized content
Take the additional step of sending personalized content to your attendees based on the sessions that they attended and the activities they participated in. That could include packages such as summary, references, and material used in sessions. This gesture engages each attendee with content that matches their interests.
Just as important as it is to establish connections, it is also important to nurture those connections. Continue to engage your audience that attended your event by offering them discounts to other events or meetups that you host. This builds relationships that extend beyond just an event, but significantly with your brand.
How event engagement can be measured?
You cannot validate your event’s success, without measuring and analyzing your efforts to engage the audience. Here are a few tactics that you could use to measure engagement in a tangible way:
- Analyze website performance and stats
- Use an event app
- Track your event hashtag
- Track social media platforms
- Analyze leads generated
- Measure audience participation (in polls, games, sessions)
An event is all about its attendees, and their engagement has a long-lasting effect on brand perception and the company’s ROI. When you measure your performance and your event’s engagement rate, you will open new paths of improvement to make your next event even better.