Today’s meeting planners are challenged by their internal and external clients to keep the momentum of a meeting going well after it concludes. Here are some ideas that may help keep your event front of mind with the attendees after they have departed.
Follow up with event attendees: Though it sounds so simple, not all organizations follow up. Thanking your guests, sponsors, and supporters is a great way to wrap up your event, but contacting the attendees after the event to thank them for attending is a great way to keep the event fresh. Email is easy and fast but a thank you note by mail is a great personal touch. Eventbrite provides an easy tool to sync your data with popular services like MailChimp and Aweber for larger event lists. For smaller events, you can send a thank-you email directly from your attendee list by integrating into Word.
Social Media: Social networks such as Twitter or LinkedIn help you reconnect with everyone who retweeted your messages, shared your posts, or engaged with your #hashtag. As a bonus, this shows other followers that you’re actively engaging and open to dialogue. Unless you choose to connect privately through a Direct Messenge, your social media thank-yous are visible to all, so be sure not to copy/paste the same message. Vary your text slightly to deliver that personal touch. “Thanks for coming, looking forward to the next one!” “Thank you for attending.” “Great seeing you there.” If you have any Tweets that you assigned to yourself to follow up on later, now’s a good time to reach out, engage, and answer.
Get feedback: Depending on the type of event you had, you might also find it useful to learn what your guests thought by asking them to fill out a survey. Use Survey Monkey or the 123 FormBuilder app from Hootsuite to create your survey and then share it with your social networks. You can also keep track of how many answers you have, the types of answers, and your results right from your survey service dashboard.
Provide a specific offer: Offer a discount on a product or service or a free trial that is exclusive to the attendees. Ideally, link it to the experience they had at the event, so it feels like a custom offer tailored to their interests. With your attendees high on good feelings after the event, this is the perfect time to present your product or service.
Give your followers something to share; relive the moment! As a result of the work you put into promoting your event, you now have an engaged audience. Share slide decks, facts, event photos, highlight reels from video captured, or even animated GIFs. This is easy to do through a meeting app like SpotMe. Find and share user-generated content from your event by searching for your brand name and #hashtag and use the functions of your meeting app to capture and share your story by pulling together social content into a visual timeline that you can enrich with your own commentary. Event attendees will enjoy having a look back at your event, and anyone who couldn’t make it might take away helpful information—and possibly make it a priority to attend your next event.
Announce the next event: Strike while the iron is hot. The best time to announce a follow-up event is either on the day of or the day immediately after your current event. Sometimes a one-time interaction isn’t enough to close the deal with prospective customers, so line up a second, third or repeating series of events to keep them coming back, engaging with your brand, and building up enough trust before they convert to becoming a customer. Again, use the media collected from your event to promote your next event.
Host a follow-up Q&A: If your event featured educational sessions, chances are some of your attendees may have left with questions. Sure, your speakers may have asked if anyone had questions, but we all know how intimidating asking questions in front of people can be. And not only that, but sometimes it takes a while for concepts to sink in, and thus, questions don’t arise until later.
That said, if you want to keep the momentum going after your meeting or event, consider hosting a follow-up Q&A. If your event was on the smaller side (3 - 4 speakers), consider having those speakers hop onto a webinar to answer post-event questions. Or, if your event was larger, consider having your attendees submit their questions, stating which session(s) their questions came from. Then, reach out to those speakers, have them provide the answers, and then put together a formal Q&A document for your attendees. This is valuable for two reasons: 1) It keeps the conversation from your event going, and 2) It shows your members you genuinely WANT them to get value from your events - and you’re willing to go that extra mile to make sure any lingering questions are answered.
Post key takeaways (on your blog, meeting website and/or in your newsletter): This all depends on the type of event you had, but if it was educational in nature, consider posting key points, title of presentations, and feedback received from your survey.
Help your members apply what they learned: It’s easy for your members to go home and get wrapped up in their day-to-day tasks, forgetting not necessarily what they learned at your event, but how and why they should implement it. Provide your attendees with a key contact from your organization that could check in with them and help them apply what they learned onsite.
Post-event think tanks: Hosting a think tank at your event is a great way to get people talking about specific topics. During the registration process of your event, provide a section for attendees to post questions they would like answered at your event. If a particular question gets traction during your session, it could consume most of the time slotted and not allow for additional questions to be discussed. This provides you with great topic material to keep the conversation going post-event. Kick off your post-event think tank by using a blog, webcast or social media. If possible, use some the of the feedback you received during your live think tank to spark conversations on your post-event think tanks. Depending on the number of questions you received during registration, you may have enough topics to post throughout the year or until your next event.
Article written by Mark Steinmetz, National Account Manager at IMS.