Attendee expectations of conferences and events are high. Event organizers are now going beyond simply assessing the short-term impact of their work and are starting to look at ways they can measure success in the long term. In most cases, conference speakers will play a vital role in determining this success, and there are a variety of ways organizers can measure ROI during the event and the weeks and months after. Thanks to advances in technology, meeting planners no longer need to rely on the more traditional methods of data collection, such as scanning badges or collecting paper questionnaires. Now planners can gather insights and opinions on speakers through a variety of digital tools. Today we are sharing three digital methods to measure the short and long-term impact of your conference speakers.
MONITORING YOUR SOCIAL CHANNELS
Social media is invaluable for generating buzz around conference speaker announcements and, if utilized correctly, can provoke poignant debates and conversations, both before and long after your conference has finished. However, when it comes to monitoring this social activity, it is vital that you use an event specific hashtag to accompany your posts and marketing materials. This will allow you to make simple searches around the hashtag to monitor engagement and find out who has been using it in discussions, and how many social interactions it has amassed. In his guide to using social media at an event, Speakers Corner’s Jason Smith believes that “at the event itself the hashtag [should be] repeated (and hopefully prominent on stage) inviting people to Tweet and we’re reminded from the facilitator to ‘Hey, share back!’”.
It is also important to ensure your speakers are actively promoting your conference and marketing materials at every possible opportunity. Whether it’s highlighting poignant quotes, posting snippets from presentations or promoting their own exclusive blog posts, you can usually assess the buzz around your speakers by monitoring interactions with their content and any new followers they acquire in the process.
You can also use tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social to provide deeper social insights and really gauge the social sentiment around your conference speakers. Both platforms will allow you to keep track of every conversation related to your conference speakers, and can help you see where and when your speaker’s profiles have grown throughout the planning and execution of your conference. These tools will help you define success by providing you with important metrics such as follower tally, total social mentions, brand sentiment, average engagement per post and % of followers who engage with your event posts.
There are now even more opportunities for delegates to continue discovering speakers’ content both before and after a conference or event. Some keynote speakers are looking to provide attendees with ways in which they can use the keynote speech as a stepping-stone to improve and change. This understanding of added value is very much at the beginning of a journey that more and more speakers will take in order to ensure organizers and attendees get maximum value from a speaker. From essays and reports to YouTube videos and, in the case of motivational speaker Jim Lawless, his own life coach app, speakers can distribute additional material and exclusive content in a variety of formats and keep attendees engaged long after the conference has finished. It is always wise to collate and publish this additional material on your website, so that you can keep track of engagement using tools like Google Analytics. So whether it’s tracking page views or download figures or understanding how long users are engaging with a speaker’s article, website data can provide you with reliable additional metrics to judge your speakers on.
THE EVOLUTION OF SURVEYS
Although valuable insight can be gleaned from social media and web analytics software, feedback forms and surveys still remain essential to conference organizers who are looking to measure the success of their speakers. The traditional feedback form filled in by delegates on their way out is still a critical way to learn how successful the conference (and the content) was in delivering the required aims. However, in a world where we are looking for conferences and events to bring about sustained change, organizers are now experimenting with new methods that allow them to collate and measure feedback 3-6 months down the line.
Thanks to advances in technology, surveys can now be dispersed in a variety of formats and can be filled in within seconds by attendees. The in-session survey is a new way to directly gauge interest and opinions whilst a speech or talk is underway and can be distributed alongside other content from a dedicated event mobile app. Organisers are also looking at ways to re-engage with delegates 3 to 6 months after the conference has finished in order to see if key messages have been acted upon or sustained change has been achieved.
Although participation may not be 100%, email marketing is also a powerful way to measure the success of your speakers and in some instances can even help you identify qualified leads for your sales pipeline if participants give particularly positive feedback.
Editor’s note: Eventinterface offers the tools around speaker engagement, content aggregation and distribution. It allows for building communities around a topic, brand or cause and is part of an end-to-end meeting and conference-planning platform. Learn more here.
Article by Nick Gold, Managing Director of Speakers Corner, the UK's leading after dinner speaker agency.