In 2010, the mainstream event industry started to embrace the idea of enlarging the scope and reach of an event. Events are planned and delivered through a combination of physical and virtual elements, often known as the ‘hybrid approach’. When marketing budgets were slashed, communication technology became a powerful tool in the event marketing industry because they offered cost-effective solutions to maximize the value of the event. Mobile apps and social networks are examples of “virtual elements” used before, during, and after the event.
The biggest challenge for the industry this year is how to combine these trends with our traditional event management solutions in order to reach and engage the audience, while guaranteeing tangible business results. Today, the communication between event organizers and their audience helps develop the event content and ensures the attendees’ positive impression. Event organizers need to listen, engage and understand the needs of the event stakeholders to deliver relevant content and generate further interaction between the delegates.
There are two key factors relating to your audience that are critical to the success of any event and, therefore, the return on investment of the event. First is the number of attendees it attracts, and second, is how engaged those delegates are.
These two factors are also directly related, because the more engaged your prospective attendees are, the more likely they are to attend. However, the key to effective engagement is not simply sending out one-way messages, such as invitations or direct mail, but striking up a two-way conversation with your target audience, before, during and after your event.
This not only helps you maintain persistent and regular contact with your audience, but also allows you to carry out research into what they want, which can help to make the content of your event more relevant and therefore more attractive. Indeed, the more in-depth the engagement with your audience, the more receptive they will be and, therefore, the more they are likely to absorb your content.
The good news is that the latest online innovations mean it’s easier than ever to engage with your audience. The key is to look at all the tools at your disposal and take a strategic approach. Here is the first tip that you can use to increase the audience engagement – in the next days we will post all the other four tips!
1. Social media – Drive consistent, ongoing awareness for your community
If you want to raise awareness of your event beyond your current attendee community, then social media holds the key. Facebook passed the 600 million user mark last year, while 200 million Twitter members are sending 110 million tweets a day and LinkedIn hit the 100 million sign-up mark in March this year. This gives you a vast community in which to spread your message, and developing and maintaining a presence on one or more of these platforms well before your event can really build awareness. The key, however, is not to sell your event through these channels, but to instead to share relevant insight relating to the content to attract interest from the right people.
Regular and consistent tweets will build a Twitter following, while including links for more details on the insight you’re tweeting will direct users to where you want them to go – ideally to your event’s website. A regularly updated knowledge base on your website with key insight into your sector, provides not only a good source for tweets, but also a point of interest for Twitter users when they are directed to your site.
Twitter can also be used to guide people to a Facebook page or LinkedIn group dedicated to your event, where they can interact and debate issues related to the content. Meanwhile, you can interact with Facebook and LinkedIn group members through these respective channels, and post up key information about your event. The result is a growing, active online community around your event, which you can maintain before, during and after the event takes place.
Active Network | Events
Written By: Cece Salomon-Lee