Event Networking – Enable your attendees to digitally engage

One of the really interesting parts of event based business and social media is describing how everyone ‘engages’ online.

[quote author=”- Anonymous Conference Manager”]We need to get into social media… all of our attendees are  online and our industry is ten years behind.[/quote]

The above statement is correct.

The assumption that event attendees and industry patrons are online correctly is not.

The reality of the situation for the common event attendee is that they have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Some of them are on Linkedin. Some are on YouTube.

99% of them have not actually coordinated “who they digitally are”

If you type their name into Google and search for them you will discover a random sampling of garbage from a few hundred thousand web sites. God forbid your poor attendee if they have any type of common name or professional title. (Have you ever tried to find James Goodman the restaurant manager on Google??? – it isn’t easy.)

Thank fully you have some pretty interesting things you can do.

As part of our digital event work that is based on my background on online reputation, our team usually works with client shows to examine how different types of attendees will engage. Depending on the size of the audience, the industry segment, career level, and available schedule of the event- there are some basic options that should be reviewed.

1- Find out who your attendees are.

This includes general members, sponsors, booth staff, journalists, and the event team. During the registration process for your event you should try to maximize all the information gathering you have access to. If you are doing it ‘old school’ – ask for attendees to give the typical name, address, etc, etc. The next step is to ask for user accounts on any relevant social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin, Industry Sites, etc.)

If you want to get technical you can enable your registration system to use Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter for registration via an API. This can allow your registration to pull attendee information directly from the social platform they are registering with (and Facebook has A LOT of information!)

2- Identify clusters of like-minded people within your attendee group.

In many cases social media profile and demographic information can refine how your event is going to deal with attendee interaction before, during, and after the show. By focusing on large groups of high-value attendees, you can enable your event staff to provide a higher level of service and make sponsors get a higher level of ROI through meaningful introductions.

3- Educate your attendees.

There are two primary ways to educate attendees: one option is to encourage consistent usage of new technology across social media platforms and hardware choices. The second option is to provide a 1-2-3 guide to help non-users become comfortable with ideas ahead of time and provide them with best practice information.

Provide a simple set of instructions that includes

For existing users:

  • event #hashtags
  • the proper way to log into WIFI
  • info to networking events
  • special incentives to socially share
  • the non-user checklist (don’t assume they know it.)

For non-users:

  • recommend top sites that will be used (typically Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, FourSquare, Youtube)
  • an online bio-sample of a typical attendee (good time to highlight a speaker or sponsor)
  • a step by step guide for setting up the 101 level on your recommend sites
  • a concierge or webinar to address FAQs
  • support, support, support (you want attendees to feel inclusion, not alienation.)

Bonus Tip:

For both existing and new users of online platforms, try to give them all a way to ‘enhance’ how they look with some simple alternatives.

The two sites below (Flavors.me and About.me) provide a fast an effective way to create a visually interesting destination for an attendees bio. For everyone who says that they don’t have a personal website that describes who they are and what they are trying to get out of the conference, these services enable them to have a great looking personal site in 10 to 15 minutes (for free.)

[one_half]Flavors.me

[/one_half] [one_half_last]About.me

[/one_half_last]

What are some of your tips for enabling a digital audience?

2 replies
  1. Stephen Tran
    Stephen Tran says:

    Interesting ideas.

    I’m mostly intrigued by #1 – finding out who your attendees are. What are some economical tools an event manager can use to help define an audience with breaking the bank?

    Reply

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