If you speak to any event prof right now they will tell you one of the hardest parts of creating digital events is engagement. Getting your attendees to communicate with each other, with your speakers and with sponsors. It can be difficult to deliver on sponsor expectations of gaining a certain level of connections, especially if they are new to the digital event landscape and are making comparisons on previous live event experiences.
For some reason it's hard to keep people engaged throughout digital events, but those same people will spend hours (note to self: check screen time) scrolling through social media a day and binge Netflix by habit. All the while absorbing information and engaging with others, but why don’t they bring this same level to your digital event?
What if we stopped trying to force engagement on platforms that are not fully built for it. Instead, we utilise those social media platforms that already exist and we use on a daily basis, where people are already engaging and at the same time creates free marketing for your brand.
Engagement can be hard on platforms, you’re forcing people to use something new that they might not feel comfortable with, or to download yet another app to their phones to allow them to engage. You need to take away the extra steps, and make the user journey as streamline as possible. For example, Allowing attendees to sign up with their google accounts or LinkedIn is a great way to prevent yet another registration form to be completed.
Embedding social media within your delivery platform/ website is a great way to spark engagement whilst creating a buzz around your event. For a virtual charity gala I delivered last year we had Twitter embedded on the side of the live stream and had an event hashtag, that when used would display all tweets associated with it. Our attendees posted pictures of their cocktails from the masterclass session, shared their excitement at the entertainment & could contact the speakers using their handles to continue connections after the event ended.
Get your speakers or host to give calls to action for chat box engagements and directing to social media if you have that embedded within. Use your team as planted attendees to get the ball rolling by asking questions in the chat box or doing the first post. Most people don’t like to be the first but will engage once others do.
Some of the best events I have attended online had never ending threads of attendees sharing photos, snippets and quotes from the event itself. I felt more immersed in the event like I would at a live event as I was able to engage and connect with other attending through my phone during breaks and after the event. This creates engagement for the event itself and also utilises FOMO, people can see it on their feeds and wonder what have they missed out on that these people are sharing about, think it looks interesting and want to join next time.
It may not work in all circumstances, but social media seems to be a vastly unused tool in the digital event world and something that could help improve engagement on a many different events.