Creating Audience Engagement
What is Audience Engagement? There is no clear definition, so to check if you know what it is and if you are doing it right, maybe it’s best to answer these questions…
1. Are your events popular and selling lots of tickets?
2. Are your attendees asking questions and clearly getting what you want them to get from your event? (ie laughter, learning, enjoyment)?
3. Do your attendees comment and share a lot online about your events?
If your answer is ‘Yes’ to each of the above, you probably have a good idea of what Audience Engagement is, and you have nailed it! Otherwise, here are some tips on creating audience engagement…
· Define your event message. Make sure your event message is consistent with what you are trying to communicate- every form of communication has to reflect this, from your Sticky Tickets event page, to your speaker, and all of your promotional/marketing materials. All of these are opportunities for your attendees to connect with your message, so make sure the message is clear.
· Get your attendees to look forward to the event, by sharing samples of the content they will experience at the event. This can include clips from the speakers, a sneak view of what they will see, photos of the set-up, or from the fun of last year’s event. Don’t however do all of this at once- make sure you share one photo or the thoughts of one speaker at a time. Just as stores and companies give away sample packs as teasers of what people can have or expect, so should you with your event!
· Ask your attendees what they want. If you maintain regular contact with attendees or even potential attendees, you can ask them early in the piece what they would like to learn about, or what they would like to see at your event. This way you can tailor the event and speakers to suit their needs, show them that you value their feedback, and also engage them and give them a vested interest in coming.
· Turn your attendees into participants. It is vital when attempting to create engagement that you turn your attendees into participants. Yes, it is difficult to ask for feedback on an event and many attendees are not open to that, so the best alternative is a real time polling and messaging app. There are a few to choose from, but this way presenters can create a direct connection by asking questions and getting responses instantly. This also keeps the audience focused and using their phone to interact at your event, rather than drifting off. You also need to make sure that your room encourages interaction, and that you make time for group discussions or activities which encourage interaction.
· Make your event unique. There are a few ways you can make your event stand out from the crowd. Firstly you can have spontaneous contests or giveaways to keep everyone’s attention (maybe event sponsors can help out with prizes). You can also keep everyone engaged by displaying a ‘Tweet Wall’ with your event hashtag. Showing activity will let attendees feel involved in a shared experience, and encourage them to also share. You can also make sure that all of your online content is easily shared by others. Also remember to take pics as you go, to post and keep for encouraging attendees to your next event.
· A brief survey after the event will confirm what attendees liked and didn’t like, and help shape your next event and make your events better moving forward.
If you are actively engaging with your attendees, they will have a better experience. They will know the event Organiser wants them to get the most out of their event, and that will increase their loyalty. Audience Engagement is not a nice ‘added bonus’. Every event Organiser would love to have attendees who ask lots of questions and are constantly sharing on social media, however this is rarely the case. It is up to each event Organiser to find ways to create those connections and make the event mean more to attendees. Hope these tips help!