How to Measure (and Improve) Event Engagement at Your Annual Meeting

How to Measure (and Improve) Event Engagement at Your Annual Meeting

Whenever I think about measuring event engagement, John Lennon’s voice runs through my head:

He say one and one and one is three

Got to be good looking

‘Cause he’s so hard to see

Come together right now

Over me

Annual meetings are a chance for members to come together, learn, network, and engage with your organization. Measuring that engagement is critical to making improvements, naturally.  But it’s often hard to see how you’re doing and put a solid number on it. 

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few ways to measure (and boost) event engagement:

Track Session Attendance

To measure event engagement, you’ve got to know who is where. Technology has made great strides in streamlining this.  Consider:

  • Smart Tags: Beacons near session entrances can passively measure who comes and goes via wearable smart tags (as a badge handed out at registration).
  • Face Recognition: This tech is still developing, but it will soon be an easy, automated way to track session engagement and audience participation at each location and time during your annual meeting. 

Use an Event App

The more your annual meeting is mobile-friendly, the more event engagement you’ll drive. We all live on mobile devices nowadays, so why not harness this trend with an app?

Attendees at conferences, annual meetings, and other professional events are increasingly expecting mobile event apps. Marketing Charts reports that 88% of attendees say access to meeting schedules in an event app is extremely important.  

While a mobile agenda is great on its own, most event apps also have ways to track how many people are using in-app messaging and other features that boost event engagement.  There’s a goldmine of trend-able data in there. You could also use it to send out automated surveys for tangible, detailed feedback or comments from your membership.

Get Social!

In fact, 34% of attendees are likely to make a post about an event experience on social media, according to the Event Marketing Institute. Social posting gives a fantastic, organic boost to the engagement of your annual meeting. To encourage social sharing, try:

  • Publicizing Your Social Media Pages: Put your organization’s social accounts on passes, handouts, and signage around the annual meeting.
  • Dreaming Up a Catchy Hashtag: If it’s short and unique, it’ll be easy to remember. Use the hashtag yourself on your association’s social accounts and in the groups you frequent. Engage with folks who start tagging it in their posts to create hype and reinforce the tag.  For annual meetings, it may help you keep better track of year-to-year data if you put a year in the tag.
  • Creating an Instagram Environment: Visual experiences and photo opportunities can encourage attendees to have fun snapping selfies and sharing them. Try adding a live social media feed nearby with tools like LiveWall to prompt folks to share.
  • Tracking Progress: Use social media tools to track keyword mentions and hashtags before and during the meeting. Also, develop KPIs around likes, followers, and attendee comments. You’ll be able to see how your efforts are helping as the data compares each year.

Integrate Your Tech

The right APIs can feed data from your registration page, event apps, and social platforms all to a central technology platform.  Bi-directional synchronization is best because there’s no need to duplicate your efforts when updates go both ways.

For example, your registration form might let attendees mark a vegetarian meal preference.  An API could send that info to your CRM or AMS and update the member’s information automatically.  Meanwhile, a contact list in your AMS could feed directly into your abstract submission software (say, to populate your reviewer list).

OpenWater is fitted with thousands of these kinds of APIs, as well as analytics to track user engagement. Data is at its best when your technology all comes together, just like your membership.

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