What’s Your Attendees’ “Social Experience”?

In today’s connected world, attendee experience is the sum total of all touch points—both online and offline. That’s why social experience management is something every association should be doing when it comes to their meetings and events.

“Event attendees have always been connected, but now they are connected at scale,” said Jeremy Epstein, VP of marketing for cloud software company Sprinklr, during the preconference Meetings and Events Technology Boot Camp at ASAE’s 2014 Springtime Expo earlier this week.

Relationships can’t be managed, only experiences can.

And the effects of this are huge for all organizations, including associations, because, as Epstein said, “customers have more information about a brand’s products and services than the brand itself.”

How’s that possible?

Well, your attendees can choose where and when they want to connect, and often it’s not directly through your association’s website or other marketing materials. Instead, they turn to social media to talk to other attendees or to read comments that have been posted about previous meetings or events.

“All these little things create the perception of a brand, which add up to their total experience,” he said, adding the biggest opportunity for creating better attendee experiences is to invest in social experience management.

“Relationships can’t be managed, only experiences can,” Epstein said. “We have the power to determine how we want people to walk away from their interactions with our brand.”

In order for your customers and attendees to have consistent experiences, all teams and departments within your association must work under a common framework  for social experience management that includes five elements—conversation, community, collaboration, campaign, and content. Doing so will help create remarkable event experiences, Epstein said.

He offered up some ideas for making that happen.

Highlight your brand advocates. “In other words, make your attendees important,” he said. Promote the content they share around your meetings, whether that’s by liking, sharing, or retweeting. This way, your attendees will know you’re listening and that you think what they have to say is worth sharing with others. Not only will they appreciate it and likely say more nice things about your event and association, but you get some free, positive publicity out of it.

Be on top of who or what’s most effective—or not. “Your job is to tell people where the value is at your meetings and events,” Epstein said. One way to do this is to give attendees real-time data insights, information like which session room currently has the most attendees in it or which speaker is drawing the most discussion in social spaces. Similarly, if you hear something’s not delivering value, work to make the experience better immediately. Epstein added that the experience goes beyond association-sanctioned activities. Listen to what your attendees are saying about hotels, restaurants, shuttle service, and so forth.

Showcase community. “People come to events not just to get great content but also to hear and meet other people,” Epstein said. He urged associations to make sure those people are front and center in every part of the meeting. He added that associations must help attendees make connections with one another, offering the example that if he were hosting a party at his home he would make sure people he thought would hit it off—based on personal or professional interests—met one another. “Do this, and your attendees will love you for life,” he said.

How are you working to manage your attendees’ social experiences? Share your story in the comments.

Sprinklr's Jeremy Epstein speaks at this week's Springtime Expo. (photo by Sabrina Kidwai/ASAE)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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