There’s been tons of innovation in the events world lately. Virtual events, once futuristic, are now as easy as opening up a Zoom meeting. Even in-person events have raised their game with essential health apps and low-touch features.
But with all these changes, we wanted to see if there were still some common threads for getting attendees to chat, meet, and have fun — no matter how they meet. Spoiler alert. There are! And these are our top 5 tips for boosting attendee engagement for all kinds of events.
Keep it interactive.
The WWE recently organized a number of virtual meet and greets for fans to meet and talk to their wrestling heroes on screen before the event.
We love this concept of bringing attendees up on stage, both virtually and in person. It’s also visually interesting, creates real connections with audience members, and perfectly breaks up the monotony of longer sessions.
To give these interactive moments even more structure, bring people up for Q&A, trivia, or an icebreaker game of some kind. Attendees should also feel free to participate through the chat, raising hands, or however they are most comfortable.
The important thing is that the event doesn’t just feel like a lecture or presentation, but also an opportunity to connect with other people in the room. And maybe even a chance to meet their wrestling heroes (if they’re lucky).
High tech meets in person.
HBO recently opened House of Bachata, an experiential pop-up promoting two new movies by Romeo Santos, AKA the King of Bachata (a popular music and dance style in the Dominican Republic). But since Santos couldn’t attend in person, HBO brought in a hologram to take this place.
The Santos hologram, courtesy of PORTL, greeted and talked to attendees when they walked in. And it wasn’t a gimmick either. PORTL streamed the hologram live, in real-time, successfully bringing attendees closer to Santos than they would be at a live show.
The event also included dance classes, music lessons, and movie screenings. We like how the event used high-tech features, like holograms, to draw people in for dancing and music. Because when people are dancing at your event, then you know there’s good attendee engagement.
Swag that makes you think.
At our past Hybrid Event Webinar, Lyndon Stewart – Managing Director of event venue Catalyst Ranch, explained that they like to get people hands-on with games, puzzles, and other things that spark creativity when hosting events.
We all know Zoom fatigue is real. This is why sometimes it feels good to sit and write by hand when brainstorming, or put up sticky notes, or use the whiteboard. It gets people to see the big picture — which is hard when you are so glued to the screen.
Consider sending attendees a gift basket with objects that will get their minds working during the event. Or tangible things that spark creativity. Or maybe just fun stuff to keep on their desks.
You can also encourage attendees to post and share their swag, or anything about the event really, to be entered to win prizes or special sessions. It’s all about creating that drive to get to connect, and good swag can definitely do that.
Star-power brings in the views.
ComicCon@Home’s Dexter: New Blood event, featuring star and executive producer Michael C. Hall, brought in over 97,000 views on youtube, significantly more than most other streams from the event.
This is because star power is king when it comes to boosting event engagement. It may sound obvious, but if you want more views or attendees, you have to book the things that people really want to go see.
If you’re unsure what your audience is most interested in, check out what attendees are posting on social media. What are people liking, retweeting, or commenting on the most? A little research into what people like can guarantee tons more engagement and attendees.
GIFs and memes = more fun.
The Toronto International Film Festival (Sep 9-18), has been posting a steady stream of GIFs, memes, photos, and tons of fun content leading up to their event next month. (Including the dirty dancing lift GIF above.)
Events have constantly had to adapt and change this year, but the one thing that’s stayed the same is attendees’ love for a good GIF, or meme, or anything fun on the internet.
This kind of content is also a great way to showcase your brand’s personality. Or spark conversation about current events. Or even just to let people know what you are thinking about. Like a random Dirty Dancing GIF. Because why not?
Make it for a good cause.
DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ list (usually just a list) was transformed this year into a worldwide virtual festival to raise money for Unicef’s Global Coronavirus Response Fund.
While virtual does make it easier to bring together artists from around the world, we do think that the charity aspect of this event contributed most to making it happen on such a large scale.
When something is for a good cause, more people want to be a part of it. More performers, speakers, creators, attendees — everyone. And the more people involved in your event, the more attendee engagement you are guaranteed.
Need more proof? That David Guetta youtube video has over 2 million views, and the chat was non-stop throughout the whole hour-long DJ-set. Now that’s what we call engagement!
Engagement starts with good content.
We all want tons of attendee engagement at our event, but that starts with giving people things to talk about. High-tech tricks like holograms can help break the ice. But so can lo-fi things like puzzles and games that get people away from their screens. There’s also a lot to be said for doing something for a good cause right now. However you plan, focus on good content — and the views, comments, and tweets will follow.