And like any other aspect of event planning, facilitating social interactions requires forethought, a plan and the right tools.
Here are some quick tips to help you generate more social interactions at your next event.
1. Create a social interaction plan
Counting every single social interaction at your event is impossble, even for small events.
So it's important to define what social interactions mean for your event, and how you want to measure them.
If it’s your first event, focus on gathering data to set a benchmark for future events. Otherwise, look at previous numbers and set realistic, yet ambitious goals.
Here are valuable metrics to measure:
- Networking meetings
- Session attendance
- Sponsor meetings
Networking meetings are perfect for tracking social engagement. It’s two people meeting together – what could be better? After all, 76% of attendees come to events to network.
No matter if you schedule them yourself, implement a hosted buyer program or use another networking method for your event, more meetings means more social interactions.
And by helping attendees book networking meetings before the event, you help them feel more confident that they will achieve their goals.
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) found that when attendees can take time before the event to plan their activities, they are more satisfied with those activities (like sessions, networking and more).
You can also track networking engagement, which combines networking meetings with the average engagement per attendee (we'll go into more detail in a later post).
Measuring the difference between session sign-ups and actual attendance helps you determine which sessions interested your attendees most.
It gives you clear data into what your attendees value, helping you create higher quality content in the future.
Your sponsors are at your event for one thing: more business. And meeting leads are the easiest way for them to generate more business.
So by monitoring the number of meetings sponsors have (and encouraging them to actively find meetings), you can increase their return on investment (ROI) and help them get more from your event.
2. Use digital social interaction tools
One of the easiest ways to generate more social interactions is to use the right tools.
The right tool can make connecting with others simple, both before and during your event.
Event apps host many features, but not all of them enable more social connections.
Remember to look for apps with features that actually increase engagement: namely, features that enable attendees to schedule meetings and connect with each other.
Also, remember to measure the adoption rate, or the percentage of attendees who downloaded your event app. This shows you how many attendees found it worthwhile to download your app.
Networking tools are perfect for facilitating quality 1-to-1 meetings with minimal time investment from you. Some even enable sponsor meetings and reporting.
As well, look for 'opt-in' networking tools. This improves the networking experience by ensuring the networking base is full of active, rather than passive, attendees.
For metrics, check these three:
- Adoption rate
- Average engagement rate per attendee
- Networking meetings per attendee
This shows you not only how many attendees downloaded your provided tool, but gives you a greater insight into how many valuable social interactions took place at your event.
Live session tools
These range from live Q&A to polling and surveys. By tracking the session attendance, you can also view the amount of responses and see how actively your attendees used your live tools.
These tools help attendees engage directly with speakers and sessions without waiting for a mic or talking over one another.
The goal with these tools is to make your attendees feel engaged and part of the session, rather than passively consuming it.
3. Create interactions around your event
It's important to cater to your attendees' preferences. Some prefer more quiet, intimate sessions while others enjoy meeting many people at once.
Understand your audience and their desires, and create different mini-events or opportunities for them to reach their social goals.
For example, at their 2019 flagship event, LendIt hosted many different networking events to maximize social interactions and cater to their wide attendee base.
While livestreams aren’t exactly social tools, they can still help your attendees connect with each other.
For example, Nordic Business Forum hosted a livestream where attendees could watch the event together and network with each other in a more intimate atmosphere.
It helped those who couldn’t be at the event still feel part of the action and make valuable connections.
There are many tools at your disposal to make facilitating social interactions simple.
By creating a strong plan and using the right tools, you can save hours of time and help your attendees connect with more people.
How do you facilitate social interactions at your event? Let us know on Twitter @Brellanetwork.