Audience engagement – part 5
SO HOW do you measure engagement? Coming back to event tech suppliers, they claim that engagement can be measured by the number of tweets sent, the number of social conversations, the number of event images posted, the number of people replying to surveys or participating in polls. In response, I would say okay, fine, but all these things are quantitative, not qualitative. Just because someone sends a tweet or posts a picture, does that qualify them as an engaged, satisfied participant? To draw comparison, you may have had 100 people visit your website in the past week but if none of them actually did anything and took action – buy something or contact you – the numbers are irrelevant. They were merely browsers. And they left your website disengaged. What you really want is new clients.
I would argue that measuring engagement is a waste of time because the only thing that matters is action and outcomes. You could say that everyone was engaged at your event because they all wrote notes. Well, most people do. How many of you have written notes down at an event, taken them back to work and never looked at them again? I would guess everyone. Doing something with your notes and taking (new) action is the only thing that matters. If you don’t do anything new after attending an event or apply anything you learned, you’ve pretty much wasted your time. And the host has wasted their money. Most attendees leave events smiling, take their notes with them – destined to find their way to the bottom of a pile of unread reports or some other dark crevice – and later rate the event eight out of 10, giving the impression to the host and organisers that is was a great success. This happens all the time. You might say the behaviour is misleading, deceitful even. But for an attendee, a day out of the office meeting friends old and new, paid for by their company, is something to enjoy. We like days like that. So while the content wasn’t engaging and I have no intention to use any of it, I had a good time. In fact, I wish there were more days like that. Here….have an eight out of 10.
A well-designed event survey can help uncover engagement levels and, more importantly, what people intend to do afterwards and how to apply what they learnt. In addition and better still is a post-event communication and follow-up strategy designed to find out what people are doing with what they learned and encouraging them to take action. But how many event owners or planners bother with that, let alone even consider it?
In summary, there’s no doubt engagement at events is an important consideration. But I believe it’s been over-hyped, while outcomes are overlooked. The value of anything, tangible or intangible, is measured by its benefits and usefulness. Engagement is important, outcomes are valuable.
Read previous installments in this series here.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make your events fresh, innovative and effective, please contact Max Turpin at Conference Focus on 02 9700 7740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.