5 ideas to boost event engagement

One of the most difficult aspects of organizing events is hardly discussed: The worry that the event will be poorly attended and/or have customers that are not very engaged with the event. Trust me, I’ve spent many sleepless nights leading up to my events with the worrying about just this!
Boosting event engagement is 2 fold. First you want to create strategies to boost engagement before the event begins, and then at your event. I believe the most important thing is creating buzz BEFORE your event begins. Having an excited audience that knows what to expect will serve you better than you can imagine!

I hope these 5 tried and true event engagement strategies are able to put your mind at ease so you can have a well attended event with happy and engaged customers!

Before the event:
1) Social media: This day and age, social media is critical to getting the word out there about your event.
Make sure you find the marketing message clear and exciting. Would you want to attend this event if you saw the advertisement for it? Think: What is in it for the customer? For example when I organized my vintage events, I would say something like “a treasure trove of vintage clothing, jewelry, decor & more! First 100 customers receive a swag bag at the door!”. Proudly supporting named charity. Creating a concise and exciting message creates buzz! If you have a theme, have your marketing materials clearly embody that theme. Is there prizes for best dressed or a photo booth? How about a bar or food service? DJ? Mention it!

2) Targeting & tailoring to your audience: Is the event solely for employees of your company or for the general public? Think about the age and demographic of your target audience and then create engagemnet topics tailored to them. Then mention the discussion topics well in advance of the event. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees/potential to come up with a few questions of their own or answers to a given topic in advance. Make it as fun as you can again by incorporating a theme that will resonate with the general age & audience! Ask the attendees to dress up and mention prizes! Send or post articles for easy costume ideas related to your theme (for example, I attended a very fun Willy Wonka themed event last year)! Send out reminders a week and then a day before the event to ensure guests are prepared to be engaged at the event.

3) Get social: Before the event begins, research what local hashtags will have your event in front of the right audience. Ideas include the name of your city (Vancouver for example), and another local word such as : vancouverdowntown, vancouver tourism, events, fashion, etc! Use as many hashtags as you can. Share the event in your instagram stories and tag all local newspapers and local promotional feeds that you can. Having just a few of them re-share the event can have a big impact on boosting your overall numbers!
If your event has a ticket fee, hold a contest on social media to give a pair away. Ask participants to like, comment and share the post to their stories. Are you supporting a charity in any capacity at the event? Share all about the cause on social media. The more you can liaze with local organizations and groups, the more people will know about your show and want to attend your events!

Remember, anything you can do in advance to boost engagement with spending little to no money will always be worth it!

4) During your event: keep that fun theme at the forefront of decor. Decide what your budget is first and then work within it-An inexpensive idea is balloons & renting colour coordinated table cloths and then decide what is worth the splurge-renting some larger items to create a custom photo booth, or some cardboard cut outs of characters related to the theme? How about hiring some local actors dressed in the theme to attend and mingle with guests? How far you can take it will all depend on your budget and imagination!

My brother & myelf at a Willy Wonka themed event!

Make it easy for guests to engage at your event. Have clear stations

5) After the event: For post event, make sure that you have a draw at the door to collect email addresses. NOT PHONE NUMBERS! I was just at a large craft fair last week and they were asking for names and phone numbers at the door and I couldn’t help what a huge missed marketing opportunity this is! If you receive an additional 300 names that you can add to your email list, thats 300 new potential clients or customers of a future event that will tell their friends and family to come to the next show, if they enjoyed your event!when you are emailing the attendees, try and use language that facilitates a community. For example at my vintage events, I would use terms like “our local vintage community and family”. We are all social creatures and want to feel a part of something big; be that vessel in your community that brings people together. Don’t forget to thank your attendees on social media for coming and being apart of something great!

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