What do your Attendees Think?

Have you ever been frustrated by the difficulty of getting accurate feedback from your conference attendees? Surveys, of course, are still the most popular and robust way to see how your attendees think about your show, but they can suffer from poor response rates.

Fortunately, the rise of social media and mobile technologies give you more options than ever to capture the pulse of your attendees. Here are some options you may want to consider:

  • Better Surveys. Despite its problems, surveys are still the best way to get feedback. There are many ways for you to improve surveys. The first big step is to reduce the number questions. Five or less is ideal, over ten can be problematic. One of our most popular articles describes how to write more effective survey questions.

  • More Survey Options. If your mobile event app does not offer surveys, then you are missing out on an easy way to get feedback. If you combine mobile with web surveys, then you are in a great position to increase your survey response rates.

  • Monitor Social Media. Social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, provide real-time insight into attendees that has not been available in the past. Your organization and conference Facebook pages should respond in a timely fashion to attendee/customer posts. Twitter tends to have much more regular activity, especially during the conference, so there should be a designated monitor during core hours. Not only should your monitor focus on your Twitter handle, but you should also have a great hashtag to track. Please keep in mind that people will use variations of your “official” hashtag, so you should also be on the lookout for these permutations.

  • Social Media Word Clouds. There can be a great deal of activity on Social Media during a conference. If you need a high-level overview of what people are saying, you might want to use one of many free social media word cloud tools to get to the heart of the matter. If you see a lot of words like “Awesome” or, conversely, “Boring” you’ll be at a better starting spot for probing deeper into your attendees’ sentiments. (Just Google “social media word cloud”.)

  • Posting questions on Social Media. Social Media is not just a one-way street. You often need to engage your attendees to get the conversation going. Your social media monitor should also be a “curator” – creating compelling social media content. Asking questions (like “which speaker was your favorite?”) is often productive. In fact, there are many ways to use Twitter at your conference to increase audience engagement and generate feedback.

  • Analytics. Make sure you have Google Analytics on your conference web pages and your mobile event app. For example, page view counts often make it clear who are the most popular speakers.

  • Mobile Session Q&A. If your mobile app has a Session Question and Answer feature, you can see which speakers best engage your attendees.

  • Heat Maps. If you are using Beacons and RFID, you should be able to generate heat maps that make it clear where your attendees prefer to go. For example, the technology area of your exhibits floor may be a hub of activity.

  • Ask! Here is an old fashioned idea – post volunteers outside of sessions and have them ask the attendees as they leave for feedback.

  • What about your non-sessions? Planners focus on getting feedback about their educational sessions, but other parts of the schedule are often overlooked. These can include such things as networking events, meals or service at the registration desk. A possibility for getting feedback have a QR code on a poster in the appropriate areas that link to a survey. Attendees can then scan the QR code and answer. Even if the survey is a single “Comments” question, you will still be capturing great information that you would not normally obtain.
  • In short, use mobile apps and social media in conjunction with surveys to get timely and honest feedback.