ExpoPlatform’s Tanya Pinchuk says organisers need to plan carefully to ensure a loyal digital audience.
There are some who still fear the potential impact of online technology on the business events industry, that digital tools could potentially take control of the event away from the organiser as interaction takes place online instead of in the meeting space or convention hall.
In reality, a carefully coordinated digital plan can have quite the opposite effect on your event, boosting its potential success by facilitating interaction among an audience not yet committed to attend.
By carefully bringing these conversations and interactions into the fold of your show, offering your audience the tools they want, they will depart third-party platforms that would otherwise result in a loss of audience control for PCOs or event directors.
The simple fact is that without proprietary software for meeting or matchmaking at your event, stakeholders may look at other platforms to plan their agendas.
This means the organiser could lose control of the event in the digital space. External platforms such as LinkedIn or, more simply, email, are typically much less efficient in facilitating this connection, with the result that your delegates and attendees receive a worse overall experience.
This does not mean that social media platforms should not be used, as they remain highly effective marketing tools and act as a precursor to more focused avenues for online interaction.
They are also, in fact, an inevitable one. In a recent piece by strategic consultancy AMR International, the company refers to comments made at this year’s UFI Congress in which a delegate pointed out social media apps are now the only way to reach an increasing number of event attendees, that many only have email for the purposes of gaining social media accounts.
The challenge is to entice them to move from social media into your event’s pre-opening digital space. This is done by offering bespoke functionality and tools that cannot be found elsewhere.
And once they have joined, this online interaction must be kept going throughout the event and beyond. Communities are rarely leveraged effectively to keep communication going strong between events. This is a particularly powerful digital goal for conference and convention organisers, where the subject matter of the event brings together like-minded people who share common interests.
What may be needed is a combination of content (e.g. learning resource) and connectivity to ensure delegates and visitors are interested in continuing the interaction and networking long after the event is over.
The goals are clear, but they are not simple to realise. If a company puts systems in place without due care given to how they plan to direct people, then they can create hurdles unnecessarily. Deploying technology that provides a personalised experience for a visitor without first establishing what their objectives are, can hinder the event experience in the same way that failing to put together a coherent agenda or to invite interesting and/or relevant speakers might.
But it is equally dangerous not to seek technology solutions that can enhance the value proposition of the event, particularly when other methods exist that may enable your potential clients to do so.
Not all the content shared around your event takes place in the plenary hall, and having a clear strategy for engaging delegates online and bringing them into your event’s proprietary digital space will be crucial for its success.