Participant Engagement – A Key Component for Modern Events

Attendee engagement is an emotional involvement or commitment by an audience or attendees at a meeting. 
The ROI of an engaged attendee is simple: participants who are emotionally involved get more out of the event.  They learn and retain more. They are more interactive. They bring out more in others. They will rate the event higher and will be more likely to return in future years -- while encouraging others to do so as well.

Fortunately, as technology advances, there are many ways to measure and build engagement at events:

  • Surveys, polling and social Q&A systems using smart devices are simple, easy-to-use, inexpensive and directly engage attendees giving immediate feedback to their thoughts. (examples: and ). 
  • Measuring the social media activity (number of event-related tweets, posts, pictures, videos, etc.) is an effective method of assessing attendee engagement levels.
  • Social media sentiment analysis tools not only measure social activity, but can help you actively listen to your members/audience and identify the messages/posts that are driving desired outcomes and a good measure of engagement. On a simple level, measuring positive and negative keywords can give immediate feedback to your event social activities. Other systems can go much further in measuring emotions expressed.  One example is: Facebook Insights.   
  • Gamification can be used to increase attendee engagement or perform desired actions at events. Increasingly these are a component of mobile event apps.
  • Your mobile event app analytics can be a goldmine of information on engagement. Every touch on a mobile event app can be trackable. Some basic metrics include the percentage of people downloading the app and the number of interactions, However, this can go much deeper indicting speaker ratings, exhibit ratings, topic/track ratings, desired session downloads and much more. This direct, immediate feedback on attendee likes/dislike can be a great measure of engagement.
  • Wearable beacons contained in some smart badges can measure attendees’ journeys through a meeting space or exhibit. They can measure how long they are in sessions and which ones are the best attended. They can measure how long individuals spend in front of specific exhibit booths. These are direct measures of attendee interest and engagement. (Examples include:,, and    
  • Social walls allow an event organizer to display the real-time social activity at an event (tweets, Instagram posts, etc..) using large monitors or data projectors. These products are typically cloud-based, inexpensive, easy to set-up and provide a range of moderation options. Examples include: Cvent Social Wall, Live Wall, Postano, and SocialWall.  
  • Matchmaking and networking tools are making their way to events. Oftentimes, they are integrated with a mobile event app or as part of hosted buyer scheduling program with the goal of connecting people of mutual interests together. One mobile-based product of interest is .  Using a combination of a mobile event app and beacon technology, attendees at the SXSW music & technology conference were allowed to indicate specific interest areas on the app. Then, when two attendees of like interests came in proximity or each other, each were notified in the app. One good contact at an event can often times pay for the entire trip. Technology can assist in making these connection and lead to more engaged participants.   
  • Live video streaming and photo sharing social apps can be used to engage attendees. Many of the major social tools are allowing live video streaming (Twitter/Periscope, Facebook Instant Video, YouTube Live, Instagram Story, Snapchat Story). They involve attendees and allow them to share your event to a larger audience.  Additionally, social photo booths, such as ’s ChripE Photo Booth, encourage attendees to take photos and share them on Instagram with the event hashtag. The attendee gets the photo and the event planner gets a more widely shared social footprint of the event.
  • There are also new microphone options to increase engagement. allows attendees to use their smart phones and an audience microphones. Catch Box is a foam-covered throwable microphone that works well, is fun to use and is much more convenient and engaging than the standard standing aisle microphone.
  • Second screen technology allows attendees to see and interact with presentation slides using their own smart device or vendor-provided tablets. This can be used for polling, for note taking and other interactivity between the speaker and audience. Examples include , ,  and .  Many of these tools provide rich data detail of attendee likes and attention.
  • A wide range of new AV options can increase attendee engagement including high-resolution large screen projection, projection mapping, and interactive digital signage increasing the “wow” factor of an event.
  • Better methods of exchanging contact information can greatly improve the value of the event and, therefore, increased engagement. Paper business cards are not that efficient for follow up. More efficient digital transfer of contact data can help. uses NFC (near field communication) to allow lead exchange, brochure requests, gamification and much more by simply tapping your personal “poken” fob to another one. This can be then downloaded to your spreadsheet or other digital recording methods.

This plethora of engagement and engagement measurement tools will transform the impact and power of face-to-face meetings in a substantial manner. They will help to involve the attendees and to help them get more out of the event, to help them share their experiences with others, and to make it more likely they will return in future years.

Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a speaker and independent third-party consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity He can be contacted at his extensive web site Corbin Ball & Co. - Meetings Technology Headquarters ( and followed at

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ITRA, Las Vegas, NV - USA

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ACE of MICE, Instanbul, Turkey

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Exhibitor Live, Las Vegas, NV - USA

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How to Use Your Blog to Promote Events and Tradeshows

©2016 Guest post by Robert Mening

Everyone may have different goals for a trade show. Typical goals can include:

  • Educating people and raising brand awareness,
  • Adding names to an email list,
  • Networking with other people in your industry,
  • Positioning your company or yourself as an expert,
  • Handing out marketing materials,
  • Locating new clients or investors.

You can try to do a few, or even all of these goals at a trade show or event. However, what if you could do it even better so that by the time you showed up, you already had some idea of the topics most relevant to those attending your event? What if you had already gotten some people on an email list and were now on step two of making contact with them at the show? What if you had a way to make sure people didn’t pass your booth by in the mayhem of most trade shows? Using a blog can help you achieve these goals, Here’s how.

Leverage Your Blog to Meet Your Event Goals

Want to make sure you attract a crowd to your next event? Prime the pump with some easy-to-adopt marketing strategies before you get there. All you have to do is leverage your blog with these easy steps:

1. Add a Landing Page on the Blog -

Before you can get started driving traffic to your blog for the event, you should put up a special landing page about the event or trade show specifically. Include all the details, embed videos of past events, and make it as exciting as possible.

2. Add Links In Your Other Content -

If you have old content that has anything to do with the topics being addressed at the trade show, then make sure to update those old posts with a link to the trade show or event coming up. You can even create new content about trends in the industry and then add a link to the upcoming show or event to let others know where they can find out more in person.

3. Add Social Sharing Buttons -

Each blog article should have social sharing buttons added into it to make it easy to share on sites like Facebook and Twitter with one-click. Always include images or videos wherever possible, in your blog posts so that posts can also be shared on sites like Pinterest and YouTube.

4. Use Social Media to Promote Blog -

Once you have a few good sets of articles on the blog and a landing page, you can promote the content via social media to draw attention to the event:

  • Tweet to a Press List - Use the mentioning feature in Twitter with the @ sign to mention people on a press list you’ve developed ahead of time. For instance, you can mention local newspapers, reporters, writers, public figures, local organizations, and anyone who might be interested in attending.
  • Best Photo Instagram Contest - Create a contest to help you promote your trade show and show the results of past contest on your blog with winning pictures. Instagram is a great way to attract a younger crowd, if that’s your aim or the trade show.
  • Most FB Shares, Likes, and Comments Contest - If your aim is just to get the word out about the event, then there are blog widgets, like Rafflecopter, that can help you set up a social media contest that counts likes, shares, and comments as well as tweets. Just install them in your blog and get started creating a contest in minutes. They even offer email integration, for a price, if you want to use it to create a survey to field potential topics at the upcoming event at the same time that you get some pre-qualified leads.

5. Stream and Take Video -

Don’t forget to stream or take video of the event or trade show so that you can show it as it happens or later on, via other blog articles. In this way, you are actually creating content for the blog, just by attending your own event. You can even interview people who stop by your booth and get their opinion on events and the show in general. Be sure to have a consent form from them to sign giving you permission to use their image on your blog.

Which Strategy Works Best?

If your goal is to increase names on a mailing list, than a survey with an email opt-in could help get the ball rolling. If it is to get noticed by people in the press, then tweet mentions might work. If you want to start educating and raising brand awareness, then add more content, using links and share buttons to drive traffic back to the landing page. Using a blend to hedge your bets is probably the way to ensure success.

All these strategies can work to promote your event and trade show now, and if content is created at the same time with contest winner articles, videos, and images, then you’ll also have plenty of information you can use in the future too, once the event is over.


Robert Mening has been interested in technology and the web since he can remember. A web developer and designer since 2004, he created WebsiteSetup; a website he has dedicated to helping people learn what they need to setup their own websites

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