The best way to create a memorable conference, and build lasting momentum for future installments, is to engage with your attendees. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, we’re not just talking about schmoozing after your favorite sessions.
Proper attendee engagement requires interaction with guests before, during, and after the conference. It requires a lot of planning. Fortunately, a strong attendee engagement strategy pays off when you put in the effort.
Social media, email campaigns, and an event website can be used to communicate with your attendees before they arrive. Messaging should be structured around hyping up the conference as well as setting expectations for anything that might create confusion or conflict.
When building hype, focus on what attendees will learn, the speakers they’ll meet, and how they can start connecting with fellow guests. When setting expectations, focus on topics like catering, transportation, and parking — all things attendees should know about before their arrival.
We also recommend creating a content calendar in advance of posting on social media. This way, you won’t miss an opportunity to discuss important conference features. Pairing a social media scheduling platform with that content calendar will help you even more, freeing you from the burden of having to write and publish emails and social media posts every single day.
With all the hustle and bustle that goes on during a conference, getting attendees to raise their hand and ask insightful questions at their third session of the day isn’t always easy. This is what makes technology your best friend. In addition to using an event app to push out surveys after a session wraps up, you can use that app to create interactive experiences during the session. Live polling and the ability to ask questions anonymously are always appealing to guests.
Of course, attendee engagement isn’t solely about the conference staff and speakers interacting with your guests. It’s essential that you also make time for guests to independently interact with one another. One way to achieve this is to create pods where attendees can discuss sessions they were just in or even share a quiet breather from all the activity going on around them.
Our favorite bit of advice when it comes to on-site engagement is to encourage group discussion wherever you can. Guests can share interesting facts about themselves on their name tags. You can plant people at every table who are sure to get the conversation started. Lastly, you can build events that cater to different guest personalities, like morning people and night people. This helps ensure that you’ve given every attendee the opportunity to network while on their a-game.
We’ve now arrived at the most underutilized — and quite possibly the most important — form of attendee engagement: post-event engagement. And look, we get it. You’re tired, and the attendees are exhausted too. Why not take a beat? Because you need to start thinking about next year.
Post-event messaging is your chance to collect the data, feedback, and testimonials that will help improve the guest experience at future conferences. It’s also an opportunity to incentivize early registrations. Offer those who participate in surveys or provide testimonials a deeper discount for early registration or exclusive access to content from the event.
Speaking of content, sharing videos and photos on social media and through email is an easy way to create a sense of nostalgia and keep people talking about the conference. It’s also a chance to connect with individuals who couldn’t attend this time but will definitely want to participate in the future.
It’s hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it!
Creating and maintaining an informative, engaging communication plan with guests is a year-round endeavor. If you have any questions or concerns about how effective your attendee engagement strategy is, please reach out to the Coterie Spark team.