Audience Acquisition

A New Spin on Audience Engagement

by Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes

Once upon a time, our world was a much simpler place. Event organizers would hold conferences and trade shows in physical environments, and thousands of people would show up, go home and then come back the next year (and the next year and the year after that…) to do it all over again. Nowadays, however, our world is complex, uncertain and physically distanced. Event organizers are looking for new ways to disseminate valuable content, keep their communities connected and deliver on their value propositions on a more regular basis.

As mdg has been helping its clients develop and execute on more holistic content and communication strategies, I’ve been thinking about the brands that have done a great job of capturing my head, heart and—in the case of Peloton—leg muscles.

My Peloton bike has been a lifesaver during the past several months, and it’s shown me what the gold star of true engagement looks like. What’s more, so many of the brand’s touchpoints could be easily adapted to serve an association or event audience.

As an example, at the end of each month, I get an email letting me know how many days I worked out, what my achievements were, how my stats compared with last month, etc. What if we used technology to create an email like this after attendees participate in our events—recapping how many sessions they attended, time spent on the show floor (or badge scans), activity on social media—to show them how much they accomplished? And what if we continued that throughout the year by highlighting their participation in online events and other forums? Speaking of which…

Peloton users earn milestone and achievement badges for numbers of classes taken, miles logged, minutes logged and even for taking certain classes that are “discovered” by unlocking clues on Instagram. I never understood why adults would care about digital badges until I found myself saddling up at 6:00 a.m., excited to earn my 300-ride badge, my 5K-minute badge or my Lizzo ride badge! What if you capitalized on the passion your audience has for their industry or profession by creating (nonaccredited) badges or certificates that acknowledge and reward individuals for their engagement? Take five classes (in person or online) in a given subject matter to earn a bronze badge, eight for a silver and ten for a gold. Unilke my Lizzo badge, these could be touted on LinkedIn and resumes to demonstrate an individual’s commitment to professional development.

For engagement between workouts, I find myself reading blogs from the instructors for tips on improving performance. I visit the Facebook page to see motivating before and after photos from other users. I watch videos of my favorite instructor (Robin Arzon!) on Instagram cooking healthy vegan dishes in her New York City apartment. Could we tease out more creative content from speakers and/or industry thoughts leaders on a more regular basis? Could we share stories about attendees who found a new vendor or solution on the trade show floor, learned something important, and/or made a new connection and how it impacted their business or career? In short, how can we better capitalize on the power of social to create better engagement? And, more importantly…

How can we apply lessons from inspirational brands to our content and engagement strategies as we begin to think outside the annual cycle of event planning?

A version of this content originally appeared on CEIR’s blog.