The 365 Day Event: Using Digital Content to Drive Year-Round Engagement

January 11, 2018

Internet pioneer, entrepreneur, and New York Times best-selling author Jay Baer gave a presentation at the PCMA Convening Leaders conference this week on “The 365 Day Event - Using Digital Content to Drive Year-Round Engagement.”

Baer spoke about the intersection of technology, social media, and customer service, and how this convergence relates to events.

The average person uses a smartphone 76 times a day. And many attendees now bring multiple devices to an event: a phone, a tablet, and a laptop. It therefore comes as no surprise that the biggest challenge experienced by most event organizers is keeping the attention of attendees.

Baer quoted statistics from a recent PCMA survey of thousands of meeting planners. When asked to rate the difficulty of keeping that attention level, on a scale of 1 to 7 where 7 is the highest, the response average was 5.1.

The two common responses from event planners are either to embrace this, offering free wi-fi, Twitter or Instagram hashtags, and event apps, or to take the opposite approach and ask attendees to turn off their devices during sessions.

Baer challenged event marketers to stop thinking of the event as a moment (or set of days) in time, and instead to think of it as something that lasts a full year. Information and inspiration happens year-round, so why not put as much effort in to your community before and after the event as you do while it’s live?

According to Baer, there are three main types of engagement: information, community, and service. Applying these to the three time spectrums (pre, during, and post-event) will give you a 3x3x3 grid, in which you can map how you will interact with your attendees.

A few of his suggestions:

  • Information – send a weekly email with links to relevant curated content; create podcasts featuring your event speakers
  • Community – create a closed Facebook group open only to event attendees; offer special challenges and contests like a selfie-challenge, where attendees have to find a specific speaker or landmark
  • Service – hold Facebook live sessions, webcasts, phone calls – plus make sure your event website has a robust FAQ section

Baer touted the value proposition of an event content marketing strategy. Your event is the raw material for 365 days of engagement and interaction, so break the event apart into content that gets distributed throughout the year.

He recommends following the “1 to 8 rule” – a mindset where all large pieces of content will be repurposed into at least 8 smaller pieces of content. This could include:

  • Keynote video
  • Slideshare
  • Small video excerpt
  • Blog post
  • Podcast

The ultimate goal of this is to build a community and to increase word of mouth. Your attendees can become your event – and brand – ambassadors. In order to achieve this, you need to provide experiences which exceed their expectations.

Baer laid out a strategy for creating “talk triggers” onsite, and offsite differentiators to compel conversation. If you can make word of mouth an unconscious action, every attendee becomes a volunteer marketer for your event.

But “good” just isn’t interesting enough anymore to create conversation – the experience has to be extraordinary and memorable – quite literally, remarkable. He referenced brands such as Hilton and Warby Parker, whose fast responsiveness on social media has earned them a loyal following. Or DoubleTree, who simply by offering every guest who checks in a warm chocolate chip cookie has created a memorable experience.

For events, activities like having a barista who takes your picture, makes a cappuccino and draws your portrait in the frothed milk on top can create those standout moments.  

To get a copy of Baer’s Talk Triggers (and be added to his mailing list), text the word “triggers” to 66866.

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