Event organizers are obsessing about increasing engagement and interaction at their events and measure a lot of data to prove ROI and their success. As a professional, you know that it comes down to a simple formula: participation needs to offer additional value to attendees, then engagement relates directly to their satisfaction. At the same time, no matter what kind of events you are planning or organizing, your audience will always bring their own means of distraction with them: their devices. With this in mind, we offer you the following tips to increase engagement during your events.
Mobile technology is omnipresent and offers global connectivity, yet smartphones have a tendency to alluringly distract us from whatever else is going on around us. It can be a challenge to leverage the mobile distraction to your advantage as an event professional. Yet your event attendees are going to bring their devices in any case, so why not seize that opportunity for connection and engagement? Anything you offer on-screen on the devices of attendees should enhance their experience and provide relevant information, such as augmented reality, navigation of the exhibition space or interaction with a presentation or display.
One of the easiest ways and quick to set up are social media walls that can pull social media streams filtered by hashtags or handles and present it at very prominent locations throughout your event. In addition, displaying agenda updates, live polling results or other data can help unglue the eyes of participants from their own screens.
Enable Audience Participation
Questions are the the most direct way of engaging participants in a meeting. During sessions, panel discussions or presentations at events, however, audience members are usually not so comfortable with being confronted or raising their hand to get attention. Individuals tend to hide in the mass of people. As an organizer, you can use mobile technology to overcome this inhibition to participate and engage your attendees. Live polling on your event platform or app can focus everyone’s attention on the topic at hand and keep interest levels high. At the same time, it’s an opportunity for event professionals to collect information while stimulating interaction. If you display real-time participation on stage or on your social wall, you can divert audience attention back to the stage again before attendees get distracted by their devices.
Why gamify your event? Because gamification is an opportunity to stem attendee distraction at your event and steer their attention towards interaction with one another or with speakers, presenters and sponsors. Successful event gamification goes beyond the mere collection of points and is a chance to form ad-hoc teams or alliances, foster introductions and encourage participants to explore the event space more. Your event platform or app can include puzzles, treasure hunts or quests where attendees use their devices to interact with the event through QR codes, NFC or check-ins. Incentives can be achievements to unlock, additional content, VIP sessions with speakers, sponsor giveaways or discounts for future events. Event gamification is a chance for you to track interactions and ensure quality engagement through additional survey questions. If done right, the combination of digital and face-to-face can be rewarding for everyone involved.
As event organizer, the most basic thing you can do to facilitate networking, one-to-one meetings between participants and matchmaking with prospects and contacts is to structure your agenda accordingly. Allow for specific break times that can be used for personal time. Beyond that, leverage the mobile device usage with your event platform or app and capture interest as early as during the registration process where they can be matched with interest groups. The earlier attendees can schedule opportunities for connect via your event app, the better. It helps participants to plan their day and takes a lot of stress out of the experience if they know they have their contacts lined up already instead of having to hunt down individuals at the event in competition with other attendees.
Both participants and event professionals can benefit from the use of technology to create and facilitate engagement at events. Imagine a unique and personalized experience for attendees and meaningful insights for planners, all accessible from one platform. That’s why we at Meetmaps have reinvented interaction between event organizers and participants. With an intuitive and highly visual networking platform, Meetmaps facilitates conferences and engagements and provides a custom experience. The platform is specifically focused on maximizing engagement and interactions before, during and after your event.
When using Meetmaps for events, professionals can create a trusted environment for guests where their privacy is ensured and their safety encourages open communication – all with the easy of a multi-device app for access from anywhere, anytime. Networking becomes more valuable, as members can look up speakers and other participants before your event. With your agenda front and center, attendees can streamline their networking efforts and benefit from more productive connections. Your sponsors will also see increased value as their space on your Meetmaps offers greater visibility and facilitates opportunities for interaction.
As event planner, the easy-to-use and insightful Meetmaps dashboard will provide you with real-time information on audience interaction and engagement. The visual representation includes member roles and gives you a comprehensive vision, including profiles and tracking of individual, most active participants. The use of a single platform allows for easy grouping of events and information, with progress clearly visible at any moment. Organizing events becomes easier when you know exactly where to go for relevant information and all your aggregated event details. You remain in control thanks to the easy-to-use dashboard, and of course exporting data is only a click away.
A hashtag for your event makes it easier to pull live feeds from various social channels and track activity and shares. But to keep attendees engaged, you will need to give them some incentive to share. Think about what cool thing you can implement at your event that has a definite WOW effect and is guaranteed to draw attention, both live as well as on social media. Ideally, this should fit in well with the theme or topic of your event, but can also appeal on other levels. You can highlight the sustainability of your event with a green team, or hire professionals.
An interactive DJ could take requests and thus interact with the audience. Hashtags can be used to direct requests to the DJ and display them at strategic locations.
A food artist or expert barista can create delicious treats or fancy coffees that attendees will want to present on Instagram and social media. For extra effect, you can use branded cups or plates and get additional exposure.
Mascots or celebrity look-alikes can offer other photo opportunities and encourage shares or mentions, as long as the engagement is cool or quirky enough and goes at least one step beyond a simple branding experience.
Although the majority of event attendees will be taking pictures with their smartphones, you could consider a professional photographer. Interaction with a photographer is easy and convenient and high quality pictures by a professional are nearly a novelty in a world of selfies. They will be worth sharing and can create excitement for participants.
Other possibilities for creating a unique experience for your attendees with a certain coolness factor include the use of VR technology, drones, 3D printing booths or 3D printed food, social media photo booths, a robot bartender, interactive displays, a virtual bot assistant… think of what would please and yet surprise your target audience to keep them engaged and raise awareness of your event on social media through shares so you can extend your reach.
Ultimately, you cannot control the attention of all attendees at all times, but it helps to understand the issue of distraction at events. To successfully increase interaction and engage participants more, make them see the purpose of it through attractive incentives while at the same time gently steering them away from being lost in the world of their devices. Pick them up where they are already and use mobile to our advantage. With an all-in-one engagement platform like Meetmaps, it becomes easy for both event professionals as well as attendees to connect, leading to greater return on investment for your event and higher attendee satisfaction.