A common thread in film festivals these days is to continue the momentum all year round. The Annapolis Film Festival, which takes place in March, is showing a documentary featured called Toxic Beauty next Tuesday. The DC Environmental Film Festival, perhaps Washington's best film festival—also in March—screens films every month, congratulates their filmmakers on achievements through the year, blogs each month and sponsors other mini-events.
The strategy, which should translate easily to publishers, can also help to brand your event. For us—we have our Business Information & Media Summit (BIMS) Nov. 11-13; see who's coming here—it would mean having a BIMS Rewind in February with a couple webinars on the most popular topics; a BIMS Lunch and Learn with a keynote in April, and then maybe BIMS Whims in late June asking people what they want to see new this year.
In an article on its site last month titled How to Help Conference Attendees Retain and Apply What They Learn, Member Suite lists ways to reinforce the information flow that your event attendees get and keep the engagement going beyond the final whistle.
Here are some of their ideas along with our own:
"Invite attendees to opt in to accountability reminders and notifications about resources related to the sessions they attended. Develop and schedule an email campaign that encourages attendees to revisit their conference notes, attendee event app, or microsite."
"Remind attendees about session slides, handouts and recordings. Encourage them to make connections (on LinkedIn and your online community) with the people they met at the conference."
Develop a testimonial process. You've sent out a survey that provided a space for testimonials and some people responded. Follow up in a month or two to get permission to use the quotes or maybe even ask them to do a video testimonial for you like we asked Stephanie Williford, CEO of EB Medicine, to do for us. (Thanks Stephanie!)
Suggest ways that attendees can share new information and ideas with their co-workers. For example, provide a guide for leading a lunch and learn or coffee break briefing. Remind them that their company will receive more ROI from their attendance if they spread this "wealth" around. This will also help your renewals by getting deeper engagement. Maybe one of your staff can even do a field trip and lead some of these events.
Schedule follow-up education, such as recap webinars, deeper dives, virtual roundtables and book club meetings on books related to keynotes and sessions. The Public Library Association sent this out: "The PLA 2016 Conference was an extraordinary learning experience for public librarians.... If you weren't able to make it to Denver this year or missed out while you were there, PLA has taken three of the top sessions from the conference and transformed them into live, one-hour webinars."
Invite attendees to form accountability groups with those they met at their sessions. Instead of a popular speaker handing out cards after her session, she could take cards to give to staff to start a special discussion group.
"Seek out guest blog posts. These make a lot of sense in driving traffic and can often be win-win propositions, either for someone on your team to post on another site, or an event speaker to post on yours—after a popular session."
Personalize future content. "If you use tracking or scanning technology, like badges with QR codes or Near Field Communication (NFC) powered chips, you'll know which sessions each person attended. After the conference, you can market relevant programs to attendees: 'Since you attended session X, you might also be interested in online learning program Y.'"
Find success stories. "Few organizations follow up months after the event. If you do, attendees will see that you understand the challenges they face after a conference." See if you can find someone who put something they learned at the event to work. This will give you great marketing ammunition for next year.
Curate and send. Pick five or six of the best sessions from your event—based on feedback from attendees. Build a one-day, online event around some or all of them. Check out this article I wrote last year about Education Week's very successful all-virtual event.
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…