The major selling point of a live event is that—well. It’s live.
The fact that your attendees can be physically there on the floor with your vendors, speakers, and their colleagues, sparking face-to-face communication and connection, creates immeasurable importance. A live event puts your attendees in the moment, capturing their attention and driving them towards the goals of your event, whether that’s learning, boosting engagement, fostering community, or motivating collaboration. A lot of this depends on your attendees interacting with one another, and making those connections that will continue to impact them after the event is over.
So it makes no sense to go digital at a live event. Right?
Going beyond the live event
After hearing about an event, one of the first things that anyone does is look it up on the Internet. It’s only logical for a virtual gathering like a webinar or a live-streamed conference—they were born digital—but it’s actually live events that have gained new life in virtual space.
Rather than a substitution, think of digital as augmentation of a physical, live event. The usual workings haven’t changed. Attendees can still communicate face-to-face and interact with their peers. The difference is that going digital, whether through an event app, location-based technology, or social media, creates a level of engagement that extends beyond the time and space of the physical event.
More networking more better
There’s never enough networking time. It’s a comment that comes up frequently in post-event surveys, and you’ve probably encountered the same thing: attendees want more networking time.
The problem is that there is only so much time at a live event. Between presentations, Q&A sessions and other scheduled activities, it can be difficult to provide attendees with dedicated time to talk to their colleagues. And by the time the closing keynote speaker has left the stage, attendees will have dispersed—sometimes even before that point.
Incorporating digital elements into your conference or meeting can broaden the amount of time attendees are able to network. Social media is a great place to start because it provides a pressure-free environment where attendees can engage and contribute. Make it easy for attendees to find those discussions by creating and promoting an official hashtag for your live event, and tasking a member of your team with adding content.
Social media channels lessen the need for specific networking time: attendees are able to connect with their peers while taking part in other sessions.
Click in, stay current
If your attendees can stay on top of the goings-on of your live event, they’ll be more willing and more able to stay engaged. This is especially true if you encounter unexpected announcements, last-minute schedule changes, or other issues that require timely communication.
Social media can be great here, particularly if you’ve already advised attendees to stay tuned-in to your official channels. However, using it as a primary information channel requires your attendees to constantly keep track of new content—which can be an exhausting and fruitless task.
One way to get around this is to use a social wall, which aggregates social media around your event. This keeps all the content in one place—but be careful that your important notifications don’t get lost in the swarm.
A dedicated event app or well-structured network of location-based devices can allow your attendees to quickly access all the relevant information and documents. In an event app, you can push out notifications to draw attention to certain items, while well-placed beacons can tie digital documents to the physical spaces of your live event. The major advantage of both these types of technology is that they are typically easy to set up and easy to update, allowing you to make changes whenever they happen and keep your attendees current.
Heads down, engagement up
Seeing bent heads in the audience is no longer a red flag that points to a disconnected audience. In fact, when you’re taking advantage of all channels, those might be your most engaged attendees. Event apps, social walls, and location technology are all methods that bring a more in-depth, engaged experience to live events by providing multiple ways to join in on the conversations that are happening at every level of your live event.
Do you have any experiences with using digital technology at a live event? Tweet us @QuickMobile or leave a comment below!