Any event, at its core, is all about content. Content is the driving force behind attracting attendees to your event, keeping them engaged and returning for more. It’s what establishes an organization as a thought leader, a credible partner or trusted advisor in your market. Content can make – or break – an event. But developing content that will appeal to your target audience can be time-consuming, stressful and expensive. And what happens if your idea of engaging content misses the mark? Ouch!
In today’s “what’s-in-it-for-me” era, attendees want topics or speakers that address their unique pain points, needs or goals. They want an event experience that they have a hand in creating. Crowdsourcing your event content is one way to do just that.
Crowdsourcing is a method of gathering content ideas, topic suggestions or speaker recommendations from a group of constituents – from your attendees themselves.
Crowdsourcing ensures your content matches your attendees’ interests because they’ve helped create it. After all, your attendees know best about what they want to learn. In addition, your attendees are more engaged – even prior to the event – because they’ve already invested time and energy into shaping it.
Here are four steps to crowdsourcing your next event’s content:
Start with a Goal In Mind
Decide what, exactly, you’ll be crowdsourcing. Session topics? Event theme? Speakers? Keep in mind which areas you feel would be most helpful to have crowdsourced input and how much input you will need. For instance, will you solicit suggestions for one session topic? Two speakers? Decide how you will evaluate the responses, who will do this and how you’ll decide on which ones to pursue. Will you put the selection up for a vote? Judge responses in-house or via an advisory board?
First, decide whom you’ll ask for input. Former and prospective attendees are likely your best resources. If you have event evaluations from past or similar events, mine them for ideas and input. If you’re crowdsourcing content in advance of an event, consider using online surveys to solicit feedback. Incentives or contents can also be effective tools to motivate attendees to respond. Make it easy for them to give you feedback by providing topic choices, a pool of themes to choose from – or leave it open-ended!
Promote, Promote, Promote
Getting the word out that you’re asking for input is a great way to not only get the valuable feedback you’re looking for, but it also boosts exposure for your event. It shows you care about your constituents’ opinions and are progressive in your approach to content development. Email your lists with a link to an online form asking for feedback, send tweets with a dedicated hashtag, post about your outreach efforts and blog regularly on the process – and progress.
Implement Your Findings
Make sure to implement the feedback you crowdsourced in visible ways. Have an “audience choice” session? Make sure your attendees know you’re using topics they suggested. “Fan Favorite” speaker? Promote that your crowdsourced speaker was chosen by popular demand. Building awareness around the areas where you used community feedback establishes your organization as being inclusive and responsive to industry needs.