We often think of the event lifecycle in three stages: pre-, during and post-event. But what’s an event planner to do during that long, several month stretch after your attendees have gone home and before registration opens for the following year?
While you can definitely take a brief break to reevaluate and analyze ROI metrics once your event has concluded, there's no reason to slow down your efforts to engage current and prospective attendees. Not only will it keep your event in the back of their heads throughout the year, but it helps your brand as a whole to have fresh, new content on your event website and on your social media pages.
The best part is creating engaging content during your event’s downtime is usually simple and low cost, if not free; all you need is a little creativity. Here are some easy ideas to implement while you’re winding down from this year’s event and gearing up for the next:
Share aggregated content on social media
Instead of being a source of inspiration and ideas one week out of the year while onsite, become a resource that your attendees look toward everyday. Along with your standard event promotion, take a little time each day to share 2-3 news stories going on in your industry on your social media accounts. Not only will attendees be reminded of your organization on a daily basis, but they’ll come to rely on you for the latest developments, most popular stories and technology news going on in your respective industry. This is also a great opportunity to ask readers about the content they're seeing by sparking conversation in the comments section and generating ideas for your own event itself.
Maintain a blog
Along with sharing the latest industry news to inspire attendees, get inspired yourself by writing about what you find on your event’s blog. Quick tips, listicles, reviews and other topics make for easy to share content that you can create once week or even just a couple times a month. By actively engaging attendees throughout the year with your own content, you’ll be seen as a dynamic, committed partner in your respective industry instead of an entity just trying to make money off registration fees.
Create content with popular speakers
Whether it’s working with your most popular speakers from last year or your exciting, famous new keynote for the next, posting their bio and headshot on your event website is only the beginning. Consider asking or requiring popular speakers to contribute in other ways to promote your event and engage with attendees. Perhaps it’s writing up a Q&A article, providing a guest blog post, participating in a video interview, committing to a Twitter chat, or all of the above. All of these options are easy to develop, while creating a stronger connection to your event program.
Contests and discounts
Get your attendees’ attention with many opportunities to participate in contests to earn registration and accommodation discounts, VIP statuses, invitations to special events and other perks. Have these contests be interactive and/or feedback driven to get the most out of their participation. For example, you could have attendees enter to win by filling out brief surveys, answer Twitter polls, like/follow all of your social media accounts, share photos, etc.
Get inspired by your data
Your survey, demographic and attendance data can be the foundation for excellent content to create and share during your event’s quiet months. From small shareable graphics and larger infographics, to fact sheets and white papers, use any compelling data that may peak your attendees’ interests. It could be used in an Instagram post to encourage registration for the following year (i.e. "90% of attendees would recommend ABC Conference to their colleagues! Learn why by clicking the link in our bio.") or simply act as a useful industry resource (i.e. "Check out what technology ABC Conference attendees love most in our latest white paper!").
Keep your app updated
Just because you’re not onsite doesn’t mean your event mobile app should go dormant. A week or so after your event ends, take steps to take down outdated content and leave placeholders and post information for the following year. While it’s best to not overdo it during the off-months, the occasional push notification reminder, alert or special offer is a great way to keep the app updated and your attendees informed. It's also a great place to encourage attendees to continue networking with each before and after your event.
Don’t forget about email
Though not the fanciest or newest of communication tools, it’s still important to send good, old reliable emails to your attendees. Instead of constant reminders to make early bird registration, build a newsletter that showcases all the engaging new content and resources you create each month, as well as the latest information and announcements about your event.
Bottom line, even if you choose to do just one or two items from this list during your event’s in-between months, you’ll be doing yourself and your attendees a huge favor! Not only will your attendees feel more engaged and informed, but it will also lead to higher attendance rates and will create a stronger community surrounding your event.
What do you do to keep your attendees engaged during your event's downtime? What do you respond to most as an attendee? Share in the comments below.