BEFORE THE EVENT
Registration Websites. Make them simple and fast. Collect only the information you need. Send confirmations for e-mail and SMS (short message service, i.e. text messaging) to ensure your data is accurate. Asking for a Twitter handle? Follow right away.
E-mail. Make sure you follow best practices. Use the channel to get the audience ready for what’s happening next. Mailchimp.com features an excellent e-mail marketing how-to.
Trip Planning. Deals with hotels, car rentals, etc? Share them early via web and e-mail.
Be Prepared. If there’s a specific app you want attendees to load onto their phone before they get to the event—let them know!
Day-of-Event. Share site maps, video trailers, links to your keynote speakers’ website and pictures from past events.
Mobile Ticketing. Make it easy for your attendees and handle everything via web and mobile.
Tracking and Analytics. How will you measure your success? Ensure the proper mechanisms are in place to make your next event a success.
eCommerce. Whether you’re charging for tickets or selling booths, merchandise or sponsorships, accepting money online can boost your event to the next level. Sites like Cafepress.com make it easy to set up a virtual storefront. Use Google’s or Paypal’s merchant tools to create buttons or a virtual store on your website.
AT THE EVENT
WiFi. Every attendee will appreciate it. Some presenters may prefer a wired connection for reliability and speed.
Social Engagement. Twitter is a popular, real-time service to use at events for feedback, buzz, suggestions and networking. Create a free hashtag (#eventname2011) and publicize it, to keep the conversation happening in one place.
Voting and Opinions. From audience-feedback devices to text-message voting, feedback is exciting and interactivity is fun. If you have a second screen in a presentation room, you can even use Twitter, with a custom hashtag, to get immediate audience feedback.
Charging Stations. Think of them like a coffee service for tech junkies—plugs and powerbars instead of cream and sugar.
Mobile Apps. Whether attendees are networking, finding their way around the event or registering for another event, mobile apps are a part of the planner’s new reality.
Location-Based Engagement. Create your event or venue ahead of time with all the proper info. Location services include Foursquare, Facebook Places and Gowalla.
Digital Signage. Make last-minute changes to rooms or topics, make announcements or even show logos and advertising from your sponsors. Your AV supplier can help with this.
Video. For anyone who can’t attend in person, there are simple solutions, such as Livestream.tv. Anyone with a camera and Internet connection can broadcast their event.
AFTER THE EVENT
Networking. You can help by ensuring there are groups created on LinkedIn. If it makes sense for your event, let attendees share their LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or other social profiles in a list or
forum or as part of registration.
Forums. To bridge the gap from event to event, use discussion forums, Facebook groups or pages, or Twitter. Build interest in upcoming speakers, encourage registration at discounted rates—and in so doing, learn from your audience.
YOUR NEXT EVENT
What are you doing to solicit feedback or sell tickets? Are you sharing a code that will give a super-earlybird discount? Are you collecting information and permission to communicate that will allow you to continue the conversation?
— Guest columnist Andrew Kinnear is senior digital strategist for Carlson Marketing, based in Mississauga, Ont. E-mail: email@example.com Twitter: @andrewkinnear