Events are not only about attendance numbers. Your event’s success is also directly influenced by attendee engagement. Not only during, but especially before and after an event, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to engage your attendees.
Why before and after? If you engage your audience well before the event, they can start networking and building a community before they even step foot in your venue. Members of such an event community are more motivated to actually attend your event. Do you organise a recurring event? Then offer your attendees opportunities to keep involved after the event. Post engagement has two major advantages. First of all, it is the perfect way to cement the relationships that were built before and during the event. Secondly, it keeps your event alive in the attendees’ minds, and makes them look forward to the next event.
I will show you how you can easily achieve those goals. Here are the most effective techniques to boost attendee engagement, before and after the event takes place.
PRE event engagement: build an event community
With these 3 techniques, you can make your guests foster a sense of community. Once the event day arrives, they will have a deeper connection with the event and already be invested.
1. Create an online platform to encourage pre-event networking
Your guests want to connect, interact and network even before your event starts. So help them to get to find each other by creating a 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. That way, your attendees know where to collect. Or use a tool like Evolero, which makes it easy to build a website for your event that drives social networking.
2. Share quality content on social media
Thanks to the online platforms, your attendees managed to find each other. To keep them engaged and to nourish the online discussions, now give them something to talk about. Post bite-sized information which they can consume easily. By creating conversation, you can create a community.
Start with sharing content which your guests probably have an opinion about and can engage with. You want to trigger them. Get your speakers to record a short video or write a short, relevant blog post about the session they are going to do.
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.
3. 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: keep the community and your event alive
Phew! The event is over: time for some hard-earned rest… Or not. If your event is recurring, the work isn’t done yet. Now is the time to keep the event community alive, and keep engaging your audience towards your next events. Apply these 4 techniques to be sure you won’t miss any opportunities for post event engagement.
1. Thank the attendees
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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
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.
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.
4. 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 pays off
Improvising is a no-go, when it comes to increasing pre and post event engagement. Include these 7 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. You’ll build a community around your event and boost excitement before AND after your event.
Next up; read our guide to improve event engagement during your event.
What do you think about these tips? Do you know any other strategies to increase engagement before and after an event? Share your ideas with us in the comments below.