Remember the old days when events and conferences were just great places to learn new things and meet awesome people? Well, these days networking and learning are still super important, but there’s a new kid on the block opening up countless possibilities to do new/exciting/interactive things, and redefine the way old things were done. That new kid is technology.
One of the things we’re always excited about at PheedLoop is live interaction and engagement as a way to enhance the learning experience, but also entertain attendees and liven up the entire atmosphere at the event itself. We’ll focus on a couple of ways you can supercharge live interaction and engagement at your own event using affordable and reliable technology available today.
1. Live polling and questioning
Imagine you’re a speaker at your event – what’s your main concern? You’re wondering (and hoping) if people understand what you’re saying, find it interesting, and are awake. Now imagine you’re an attendee sitting among hundreds of other attendees (each of whom has likely spent quite a bit to be there) and you’ve got a burning question, or want to express your opinion … but can’t. Too many people to get a chance to be heard, too afraid your question may be considered silly, too hard to organize accurate and elaborate polls, etc. Live polling and questioning has redefined the way attendees and speakers interact, making it seamless, simple, and real-time. We have seen live polling in action and highly recommend implementing it at your next event. There are countless great services out there (including our own) which you can use. For example, Sli.do and PollEverywhere are great options if you’re looking for polling only.
2. Social media chatter
Allow us to take this opportunity to raise an often overlooked point – engaging people live doesn’t necessarily mean doing so for those physically present at the event. You probably have a large following of people who couldn’t make it for one reason or another but wish they could, and are intently waiting for the hottest and newest updates streaming in live from the event. This includes updates from you, the event organizer, attendees, speakers, etc. That’s why it is important for you to be active on major social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram at the very least), and making sure your attendees know how to interact correctly with your event. This entails ensuring your attendees are aware of your usernames and hashtags, so that they mention you when sharing messages and media. What will make your social media presence powerful will not be the occasional post, but making your attendees social media advocates. Some of your attendees may be quite influential on social media, so getting them to talk about you and leveraging their social reach could be very valuable. Check out Klout to analyze how influential you really are – and maybe even select attendees to target?
3. Live media streaming
Along the same lines as point two above, why not start live streaming your event? Or at least small tidbits of it, considering just how easy it is today. You could stream portions of a talk, short interviews, or just clips of attendees frolicking about your venue. A couple of options include UStream and LiveStream, but a very cool new app that all the new kids are using (especially big kids like you) is Periscope. With a single tap on your phone, you can start live streaming and broadcasting anything you want.
4. Incentivizing attendees
Everyone likes free stuff, everyone. Raffling off prizes is a great way to engage people, but also to potentially promote your sponsors by distributing their swag. We’re not suggesting you hand each of your speakers t-shirt cannons, but definitely incentivize attendees in exchange for something. At PheedLoop, we have always been advocates of offering raffles in exchange for feedback and engagement. Of course, you don’t have to use a technological solution to run raffles, but it’s nice when technology does the work for you.
5. Local interaction with attendee smartphones
One of the most exciting things about modern smartphones and electronics in general is their ability to interact with the outside world around them. Two new interfaces which you may or may not be aware of are NFC (Near Field Communication) and iBeacon. Both technologies, roughly speaking, allow smartphones to interact with other smartphones and various types of devices (not necessarily smartphones) in their vicinity. This opens up a huge number of possibilities as you can use such technology for everything from live games (think scavenger hunts where people simply tap their phones or enter certain areas) to gathering live event data (which booths were most popular, where people tended to hang around most, etc.). We are currently experimenting with NFC ourselves, by allowing attendees to tap their phones at the registration desk to instantly sign in to the event and automatically be forwarded to the PheedLoop event app web page.
6. Intelligent networking tools
Networking and meeting new people at large conferences used to be really hard. Imagine your conference hosting thousands of people, with each person having a specific type of person they want to connect with in mind. It would be pretty hard to make sure you spend your limited and precious time talking to the right people, unless you already know who you want to meet, and have scheduled a specific time and location to chat. If only that was possible … Well it is! Not only that, some applications these days (including PheedLoop’s) actually recommend who you should connect with based on advanced matching algorithms, and allow attendees to start sending each other private messages too.
We’ll leave you with a final thought: without a doubt all the ideas above are bound to enhance the overall event experience for your attendees. Why not find ways to integrate some of them with each other to make things really exciting? Tweet powered live polls that trigger a raffling t-shirt cannon streamed live on Periscope, anyone?
Those are our tips! Let us know what we missed, and hope you find ways to significantly improve live interaction and engagement at your events.