Event organizers have a huge range of options for encouraging attendee engagement. For every stage of planning and running an event—including before, during, and after the event itself—there are many different ways to boost interest and interaction. With some careful planning, you can keep attendees motivated and engaged throughout the entire duration. Check out these event engagement options for ideas to make your next live, virtual, or hybrid event the most engaging it can be.
Build Anticipation Before the Event
1. Build a Mobile-Responsive Website
Whether your event is online or at a physical venue (or both!), event attendees appreciate—and expect—access to a mobile-responsive website. Your event website should be easy to read and navigate across a wide range of devices, so people aren’t limited in how they can consume your content. Attendees find it frustrating when they can’t access the information they need, and those little frustrations can quickly tank engagement levels. Build your event website from the ground up to be accessible on all devices, so you can avoid that problem.
THIS should be on your event website
2. Send Email Invitations
For many attendees, email will be their first touchpoint with the event. This means email is also where they get their first impression, so it’s important to make it a good one.
Use this first email to generate attendee engagement right from the start by highlighting the specific benefits of attending the event and the kinds of content attendees can expect.
Pro Tip: Before sending out your first email, make sure your event website is fully operational. Interested recipients will naturally want to learn more about the event, so there must be at least some preliminary information available.
3. Raise Your Social Media Profile
Social media is perfect for boosting audience engagement. With a carefully crafted social media campaign, you can drip-feed event content that keeps your audience engaged from start to finish.
Any social media promotion will be more effective if you create an event hashtag and use it for every event-related tweet, post, and photo. Having an event hashtag is important because:
- It helps you categorize event content, making it easy to find across your social media accounts.
- Following your hashtag helps attendees stay up-to-date with event news and interact with other attendees.
- You can monitor the event hashtag over time to gauge event sentiment and see what people are saying about what you’re doing.
4. Ask Your Audience for Input
In the lead-up to event day, you should generate social media conversations and boost engagement by inviting audience interaction. Some ways to do this include:
- Running a poll asking people what sessions they’re most interested in
- Asking people to submit questions for a panel discussion, a Q&A session, or a roundtable
- Making up some informal awards categories and asking people to vote for their favorites – This gives you a little extra event content, too, as you can announce the winners on the opening or closing day of your event.
5. Let Your Event Content Do the Talking
What’s the main reason people are attending your event? If you have a particularly popular keynote speaker or a panel discussion with industry leaders, leverage this content in your pre-event marketing. Ask your speakers if they’re willing to participate in the event lead-up by posting about their attendance and using the event hashtag on social media. Most speakers will be happy to do this, as it helps generate publicity for them too.
6. Incentivize Social Media Participation
People love to share social media content they’re excited about. Most attendees will be very happy to do so for your event if you offer a prize or reward. One easy and effective way to incentivize social media sharing is by running a competition on your social media accounts. For instance, if you’re selling tiered ticket options with standard and VIP packages, put everyone who shares your event content into a drawing to win a free VIP upgrade.
Maintain Momentum During the Event
7. Encourage Use of the Event App
Not all events need an event app, but they can be a great way to drive engagement as well as provide a source of information. If you’re hosting an in-person event, the event app can include gamification features that boost engagement while helping attendees get more out of the event.
Event apps have their place at virtual events too. Many people multitask on their phones without even thinking about it, and they’ll likely be doing so while consuming your event content. Despite how common this behavior is, you still risk losing audience engagement when people use their phones to interact with non-event content. Why not deploy an event app to mitigate this issue? Provide an app with interesting features and gamification elements, and most attendees will be happy to engage with that while watching your event content.
8. Add Interactive Options
If you want attendees to interact with event content, it’s important you provide opportunities for them to do so. Especially at virtual events, where interaction is sometimes less organic and spontaneous, it’s vital to make space for it to happen. Some ways to increase live and virtual event engagement include:
- Add gamification features that reward attendees for taking part in event activities. Encourage participation by letting attendees earn points for participation. Then they can spend those points in an event swag store.
- Ask your speakers to make time for Q&A sections in their sessions.
- Make dedicated interactive content, such as a question-time event that’s completely devoted to answering audience questions.
- Add interactive polls to virtual sessions, so audiences can answer and see results in real time.
- For an online event, add breakout spaces with text and voice chatting.
9. Make Room for Networking Opportunities
Networking remains one of the most important reasons why people attend industry events. Whether your event is live, virtual, or hybrid, creating space for networking is a crucial part of its success. Regardless of the specific event type, if your attendees make valuable connections, they’ll tend to view it as a successful event. And since networking is an active and social activity, it’s a great engagement-booster too. Check out our recommendations for networking games that engage your attendees here.
10. Showcase Behind-the-Scenes Content
Behind-the-scenes content is almost universally popular, no matter what the situation. People love getting a sneak peek into a part of the event they wouldn’t normally see. It’s also a great way to showcase an event for people who don’t attend—and perhaps pique their interest for the next event. For instance, you could have live interviews with your speakers or send a roving reporter out on the exhibition floor to showcase interesting or popular exhibits.
11. Build a Social Screen
A social screen or wall can work equally well at a physical event or a virtual event—they just require different setups. At a live event, set up a large LCD screen or series of screens to project a live social media feed. For a virtual event, you can set up a live feed on your event platform. And for all kinds of events, you can add a socials feed to the event website or event app too.
Displaying social media feeds helps encourage people to participate because who doesn’t want to see their name in lights? Many people will be more likely to share interesting or funny event moments if they know they’ll be up on the socials board.
If you have an achievements or other gamification system, adding a leaderboard is another great engagement-boosting option, and attendees who enjoy the gamification elements will be even more invested in participation.
12. Live Tweet the Event
Keep your event hashtag working for you throughout the event—after all, that’s what it’s there for. Live tweet event happenings as they occur, including the event schedule and any special or interesting moments during sessions or on the exhibition floor.
People who have negative experiences at the event may use the hashtag to post about it, so monitoring the hashtag is useful for dealing with these issues too. You can turn a potentially negative attendee experience into a more positive one just by responding and letting them know they’ve been heard.
Don’t Neglect After-Event Engagement
13. Create a Highlight Reel
A highlight reel of your event’s most interesting or funniest moments can be a great way to prolong engagement. It can also be an effective addition to your marketing campaign for future events. Post it on your social media accounts, and include a link in your event wrap-up email. If your company has a regular email list for clients, customers, and leads, include a link in your next mailing to show everyone else what they’re missing out on.
14. Send Event Wrap-Up Emails
Once the event is over, one way to keep your audience at a higher engagement level is just to touch base with them via email. A quick “thanks for attending” and any relevant event content links is a simple and effective way to keep the contact going. Some optional content might include links to:
- The event highlight reel.
- In-demand event content on the website.
- Your company’s social media pages.
15. Ask Event Attendees for Their Opinions
Extend the engagement and get some useful feedback at the same time by sending out a survey to attendees. This gets people thinking about the event in a positive way and gives you some insight into what your biggest event successes were. Add the survey link to the wrap-up email. Then send out an email reminder for those who haven’t completed the survey after a few days.
Perfect post-event survey questions
16. Build on Your Social Community
Don’t let your social media community die out just because your event is over. If you have a large enough group of people that are interested in keeping the community going, a dedicated Facebook group or Slack channel can be an effective way to make it happen. Alternatively, you can redirect your event audience to your company’s social media pages and continue to build your following there.
17. Add an Event Content Hub
If you have recordings of sessions and other event content, don’t let it gather dust after the event is over. There are several different ways you can repurpose or reuse event content so it continues to drive engagement and perhaps even continue to earn revenue. This is especially useful for virtual and hybrid events. Since you’re livestreaming event content anyway, it’s very little extra work to make recorded content available on-demand once the event is over.
18. Keep Your Eye on the Next Event
There’s no better time to get started on your next event than when you’re cresting the wave of current event success. Attendees who’ve gotten value out of the event they’ve just attended will definitely be interested in the next one—so why not send out an email invitation with an extra-special early-bird discount?
Boost Audience Engagement and Enjoy Better Event Success
An engaged event audience is an audience full of people who are alert, focused, and receptive to the event content you provide for them—and to your marketing messages. With a solid pre-show and post-show marketing campaign, as well as great event content, you can extend the peak engagement period and keep your audience engaged through to your next event!