How do meeting planners, marketers, and association executives measure conference success - revenue, registrations, attendance? What about long-term member or customer engagement? Is your conference still successful if the thought-leadership, idea sharing, and conversations tapered off a few days after the conference and disappear almost completely after a week?
Typically, digital conference engagement activity flows like this:
One of the major reasons that organizations hold conferences is to use the momentum coming out of the conference to increase engagement in upcoming initiatives or in the overall organization. If the conversations among attendees die when the conference ends, where do the ideas go? Where is the momentum? Where is the community?
Attendees may have enjoyed the 2-3 days out of the office and brought great ideas back to their day-to-day business, but the organization that hosted the conference does not see a sustainable boost in engagement.
During the two-day conference, 303 people publicly tweeted 2946 conference-related messages. This comes out to roughly 10 messages per person or 5 conference-related tweets per day.
On the day after the conference ended, 43 people sent 63 conferences-related messages via Twitter. While organizations shouldn't expect to maintain the peak levels of engagement that they received during the conference, ASAE saw close to a 96% drop in digital conversations with the conference Twitter hashtag (#MMCCon). The low ratio of less than 1.5 messages per sender tells me that there were not two-way conversations occurring around the great ideas that attendees took away from the conference. In fact, these Twitter messages were mainly "had a great time" and "glad we connected at the show" messages.
Following the weekend after the Marketing, Membership, and Communications Conference, conference-related Twitter volume dropped even further:
5 days after the conference: 5 tweets
6 days after the conference: 9 tweets
7 days after the conference: 6 tweets
Do conversations around the ideas, issues, and content presented at a conference need to drop by 99.9% in the days after the exhibit hall goes dark? Organizations that effectively use their member engagement software know that conference activity, momentum, and revenue can extend far beyond the last day of the meeting.
How are organizations that have online communities keeping the momentum going? Here are some of the ways you can use an online community platform to keep members engaged long after your event:
Organizations that use the tools in their online community platform to extend the conversation are able to take the momentum that started with their conference and convert it into increased participation in their next meetings or initiatives.
Does discussion and idea sharing have to die with the end of the conference? Can the right online community platform help? How would your organization benefit by keeping members engaged for months after a conference? I welcome your thoughts in comments below.
Related Article: 10 Tips for Better Conferences Using Mobile and Online Communities