Audience Engagement Methods: Before & AfterJan 18, 2017
"Engagement" is one of the most important key word for the success of events. The quality and diversity of its methods not only increases the satisfaction of participants but also the success of event planners. The variety of engagement types may enrich your events and increase participant experience. But in order to reach such an end, first we need to understand engagement techniques very well and then incorporate it into planning effort carefully.
You may find a bunch of some well known engagement methods below for pre-event and post-event periods.
Despite some believes that, engagement is an event time activity, it covers rather longer period, covering pre-event and post-event periods. Anyone who was tasked to prepare a successful engagement plan should always consider all these phases together as a cohesive issue. I have compiled some useful suggestions below for both phases. Hope it helps you guys..!
PRE – EVENT ENGAGEMENT METHODS
Encourage pre-event networking by creating an online platform
Usually, your participants prefer to connect, interact and network even before your event starts. So, help them to get to find each other by creating a common platform. A simple online forum will do the job perfectly. Social media are also useful as online platforms. Start early enough with launching and announcing a unique event hashtag. You can also create an event group on Facebook or LinkedIn, where attendees can start networking and discussing. Don't forget to use a widget to make those social media posts visible on your event website either.
Make sure that you share quality content on social media
Online platforms help your attendees to find each other. To keep them engaged and to nourish the online discussions, you should give them something to talk about. Keep posting small amount of information on a regular basis, which will help them to stay connected with your event and each other. By creating conversations on social media, you can also create a community, whose members become more familiar to each other until your event starts. Here are some suggestions for social media activity of an upcoming event;
- Share a content which your guests have an opinion about and can engage with,
- Release a short video, recorded by your speakers,
- Write a short, relevant blog post about the sessions your keynote speakers are going to lecture,
- Inform about other activities,
- Inform about the venue area and spare time opportunities.
As the event approaches, you want to start really exciting your audience. In the weeks leading up to the event, try to share content on a daily basis. Focus on the benefits of attending. You can make a short video about the event, share posts bloggers write about your upcoming event, etc. Also be sure to share some information about the preparations of the event. A quick picture of setting up the venue, for example, will warm the attendees up for your event.
Ask the attendees questions
Show interest in your attendees. Like, retweet and reply to their comments. To make them feel appreciated and part of the event, asking questions is essential: What are you hoping to learn at this event? Do you like the program? Which lectures do you absolutely want to attend?
You can even involve the guests in the decision making process. With audience engagement platforms you can let them vote for speakers they want to come. You can also gather questions for those speakers. Some speakers will happily include them in their speech. Results; a more interesting speech for this specific audience, and attendees who feel involved.
POST – EVENT ENGAGEMENT METHODS
Show your appreciation to each guest by thanking them for attending your event. Sending personalised emails, in which you use the person's first name, is the most efficient way to do that. Here are some messages you can include in that email:
- Thanks for coming,
- We hope that you'll also attend our next event,
- Our online platforms are still available.
You can definitely keep on networking, sharing information, etc. Especially keep an eye on our Facebook page, where we will share interesting content about the event.
Ask for feedback
Ask all of the attendees that follow you on social networks for feedback. It makes them feel appreciated, and you, as the organiser, will seem more approachable. Feedback moments can definitely increase the sense of community.You can either include a personalised request in the thank you email, or post a link to your online survey on the event social media channels.
Questions you can ask:
- Which sessions did you like?
- Which sessions didn't you like?
- Did you learn a lot?
- Would you attend again?
- Would you recommend this event?
- What would you change or improve?
If you receive any valuable insights, that's great! You can improve your event and share those changes with the guests. They will be happy to hear their opinion matters, and that the event is as much theirs as it is yours. This increases the sense of community.
Did attendees share positive feedback? That's even more fun. Turn those quotes into testimonials, and use them to promote your next events.
Share quality content on social media
Before the event, sharing quality content is also a great technique to engage your audience. Now, when the attendees left and the cleaners entered the venue, you've got even more content to share.
That is, if you didn't forget that post event promotion begins during the event. Properly plan which content you want to share afterwards: what to film and photograph, who to interview, etc. After the event, you'll be 100% ready to leverage useful quality content.
You want the attendees to share and comment on your content, to keep the discussion going and the event community alive. Also be sure to offer interesting content focussed on key points and messages from the event, which attendees can learn from. Videos, photos, podcasts, and articles will not only create a buzz around the event and showcase how interesting it was. They will also keep your attendees engaged after the event.
Keep the memories alive
If you organise recurring events, silence is your worst nightmare. You need to keep reminding people of your event. Keep the attendees' memories alive and their excitement up. You don't have to spam, but if the event you organise is annual, for example, throwing a surprise around mid-year is definitely a good idea.
The surprise can be anything. From a discounted ticket to the next event, to a small, fun gift. You can even launch a post-event contest. Make the attendees suggest a speaker for the next event, for example, to win free tickets for the next event. Anything goes. As long as it's fun and it reminds people of your event.
Attendee engagement always pays off
Improvising is a no-go, when it comes to increasing pre and post event engagement. Include these strategies in your event marketing plan, and adapt them to your own specific event. To boost attendee engagement takes some effort, but it pays off. Eventually you'll build a community around your event and boost excitement before and after your event.
About the Author
Posted by Erkan OGULGANMIS
Erkan OGULGANMIS Graduated from Army War College, completed MA degree in Ankara University on Global & Regional Studies, studies law in Istanbul University. Works in MEETINGHAND Online Solutions Co. as Business Development & Sales Manager.