Increase The Educational Value Of Your Event With Digital Content

How you deliver conference content to your attendees is changing. Thanks to on-demand services like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, the idea of omnipresent content—content that is available whenever, wherever, and in the format that is most convenient—is now the expectation. Associations typically offer some form of digital access to event materials, but the idea of providing a single digital format is no longer enough to provide attendees with the user experience they expect.

Feedback from attendees is prompting associations to look for ways to meet these new expectations. Rather than choosing one format, offer your attendees access to a variety of digital content to create a seamless, accessible experience that can heighten the educational value of your event.

Different digital format provide different benefits

It’s common for conference professionals to assume all digital conference products provide the same features, benefits and experiences. In reality, online conference proceedings, mobile apps and USB drives each bring their own unique set of benefits to your conference attendees.

Online Conference Proceedings

Online conference proceedings make conference materials accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Attendees can easily search by session, track and speaker to select the material that interests them prior to the conference.

With online conference proceedings, you can offer a preview of your event’s sessions. These previews can help people decide whether or not they want to attend your conference based on tangible examples of the information you provide. And, by hosting all of these items in one central location, you create a great online resource for attendees to return to after the conference has ended.

Conference App

A conference app is best for portability and on-site information. Your conference attendees can use your mobile app to navigate around the conference using GPS technology, maps and can build their own personal schedule that fits right into their pocket.

Apps also help drive engagement during your conference. Features like live polling, social timelines and direct messaging between attendees and speakers facilitate one of the main reasons your attendees come to your conference year after year: networking.

USB Drive

Relying on the venue’s WiFi is never a good idea, which is why USB drives are great for storing conference materials. The devices are small and easy to carry, especially when they are stored in unique shapes or useful objects like pens and keychains.

One of the biggest perks of USBs is that they make it convenient to access information. While web addresses might be easily forgotten, a physical keychain or item on your attendee’s desk at work will remind them of your association, conference and the information they learned from you.

Why you need a comprehensive approach

Since each digital format has its own set of unique benefits, using multiple options at your event will give attendees the most flexibility in how they engage with your materials. Don’t think of them as a replacement for each other, but rather think about how each option fills a different role in creating a seamless educational experience.

Here are a few examples to illustrate why your conference should offer a comprehensive mix of digital content formats.

Scenario 1

John is interested in attending your conference and goes online to find example conference materials to get a better idea of what your association offers. When he sees your conference proceeding sneak peeks, he registers and uses the online conference proceedings to figure out which sessions he wants to attend. When the day of the conference arrives, John wants to reference the conference materials, but cannot access the venue’s WiFi. Fortunately, he can still pull up materials using the USB keychain you provided at check-in.

Scenario 2

Mary likes to be able to reference conference materials during break-out sessions, but does not want to be weighed down by her laptop all day during your event. Instead, she accesses the conference materials available through your mobile app. During breaks, she also uses the app to post about her experiences on the social timeline and sends a question to a speaker she didn’t get the opportunity to speak with. After the conference is over, Mary deletes the app to free up space on her phone, but is able to log onto your online conference library to reinforce the information she learned at the event.

Scenario 3

Susan is traveling from out of state to your conference and is uneasy about being in a new city. Fortunately, she has downloaded your mobile app, which provides her with GPS directions to the event location and helps her navigate the city during lunch and breaks. However, she finds it difficult to find the exact conference paper she’s looking for on her small phone screen, so she pulls out her laptop and uses the USB your association provided to access and search the materials to find the paper she is looking for.

Give your attendees the format freedom they desire

Providing content in multiple formats can be a challenge if you don’t have a strategy for managing them. One common pitfall is keeping data updated and consistent in multiple places as your content changes. The best way to avoid a data gap is to create a single source of record that is always up to date.

Updating content in multiple places and coordinating with multiple vendors is another scenario that can make managing multiple formats difficult, so consider working with a single vendor that offers all the formats you need.

By offering digital content in a variety of formats you’ll give your attendees the freedom to access materials whenever and wherever they want. All of the digital formats work together to increase the educational value of your event and create a top-notch conference experience.

 

Why Associations Should Layer Their Members’ Continuing Education

 

Watch Dan Loomis and Janel Savich talk about “Learning In Layers,” a concept introduced in a recent issue of TD Magazine. In this video, Dan and Janel discuss how the concept of “layering” provides a useful framework for associations to find a balance in their online, in-person, and print training resources.

5 Ways to Use Online Conference Materials to Increase Attendance

Are your online conference materials working for you? In other words, is the content your association’s speakers create for the annual meeting used to draw attendees to the conference? If not, you’re missing out on one of the benefits of providing online access to your conference content: marketing your annual meeting.

Online conference materials help your members realize that attendance at your annual meeting will benefit their careers. Here are a few examples of how online access to content can reap rewards for your association:

  1. Improve your SEO: The more information and metadata that lives online and refers to your association, the better your search results. That means your association is easier for potential members to find when they look for professional development.
  2. Give potential attendees a sample: To whet their appetites, offer a few papers from last year’s conference to show members the quality content they can expect this year. Put your best foot forward: Choose a sample that was well-regarded by attendees.
  3. Entice members with the promise of access: Include 12 months of access to all conference materials with paid registration. Some will consider this great benefit alone worth the price of admission!
  4. Offer a preview: Looking to garner more early registrations? Send an exclusive video of the keynote speaker to those who register by a certain date.
  5. Allow registrants to peek behind the curtain: After a member has decided to attend and has paid the registration fee, use content to build excitement. You could, for example, make handouts for a few popular speakers available before other conference materials are ready to go live.

Online access to conference materials can give your association an attendance boost if you use the tool strategically. Employ teasers to build excitement. You’ll create a FOMO (fear of missing out) vibe for your conference, which helps members understand how valuable attendance truly is—and gets it on their calendars.

Do you use online conference materials to promote your event? How? Share your experiences in the comments!