Extend Engagement Beyond the Conference

By Leigh Harper, October 21, 2017

The final session of your conference is complete. Congratulations! Celebrate and rest well, but not without having a firm plan in place for post-event attendee engagement. If you connect with past attendees well and often, you can secure them as lifelong ambassadors of your organization, not just one-time participants. Consider the following suggestions that will make your audience feel valued, while also adding worth to your work and organization’s brand.

Thank them.

A thank-you message a is a no-brainer, but set yourself up for success by preparing a draft well in advance of your event so all you have to do is populate details and add a link to content. You can pre-write event highlights and add in photos, memorable quotes from speakers and statistics later. Don’t forget to include a teaser to your next event and all your social media handles.

Seek advice.

Since past event attendees are your audience, why not consult them on ways to make your next gathering even better? Go beyond the overused post-event survey and engage in face-to-face communication, either in person or virtually. Host a brainstorming session or focus group to hone in on what worked and what didn’t, or to test how well potential ideas for your next gathering resonate.

Issue a challenge.

Angela Wasko, social media lead for Catholic collegiate ministry FOCUS, says her organization hosts blog contests with monetary prizes. The organization posts a prompt for its followers who wish to participate, inviting them to send in their written response (for example: “Tell us how you were able to apply what you learned at our event to the rest of your semester”), and winning entries are posted on the FOCUS blog. Similar contests could be conducted for Instagram, asking constituents to capture a moment that describes a certain concept or theme from your event.

Incentivize.

You can open registration for your next event early to those who attended your last one, or you can offer registration at a reduced price. But why not take it a step further? Open your most desirable hotel block only for previous attendees, giving them closer proximity to the venue or nicer rooms. You can also offer merchandise at a discounted rate. Consider hosting a “reunion” reception after hours to not only engage past attendees but also create networking opportunities.

Educate them.

One way to lose past attendees is to only talk about your events. View your social media channels and website as a resource to your audience where you can share as many ideas, opinions and trends as possible. Invite speakers from your past or future events to author guest posts. See how much original content you can offer your audience, aiming to become a go-to destination online for inspiration or information.

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