As we continue to explore new engagement offerings for our attendees, it’s important to begin making a distinction between what an attendee and a participant is. While attendees in the past may have had a passive role at an event or conference, participants want to be involved and they consider themselves stakeholders. Crowdsourcing is a buzzword that is thrown around often when discussing participants in the event and meeting process. It will be interesting to see when an industry association like PCMA or MPI is willing to take the bullet and attempt a crowdsourced conference.
The combination of social media and mobile technology has provided a wide range of attendee engagement options. The entire dynamic of meetings is changing; instead of “top-down” it is “bottom-up.” Attendees have an expectation of participation. Corbin Ball explored some of the different ways active engagement is being done at conferences:
- Social media apps are used to recruit and engage participants before the events, during and after events.
- The highly mobilized social media tools (Twitter, Instagram, Vine, YouTube and others) are seeing strong use during many events.
- Social media hubs and moderated live event social walls such as TweetWall, Postano, Hashcaster, and SocialWall are seeing greater use.
- Gamification is being tightly integrated into many mobile event apps to increase participant engagement and appealing to peoples’ “fundamental needs and desires for reward, status, achievement, self-expression, competition, and altruism.” (bunchball)
- Matchmaking and networking options are being built into many mobile event apps.
- Meeting designers are moving to shorter sessions and placing a high priority on audience engagement skills when choosing speakers.
- Meeting designers are moving away from passive theater-style seating to alternate room sets to facilitate discussion and participation.
- Event participants are expecting personalized communication and choices tailored to their desires.
- There are many specialized participant engagement apps and web tools which can be used by speakers including: Conferences i/o, Crowd Mics, Evenium ConnexMe, MeetingPulse, PollEverwhere,Social Q&A, Klowd and UberMeetings.
- Many “Swiss army knife” mobile event guide apps are building in polling, survey and other engagements tools as well.
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