December 17, 2017
    Phones on: Encouraging participants to stay social
    By Brian Congrove | 01/31/2013

    What’s the best way to captivate an audience during an association meeting? The answer might be as close as their phones.

    According to a recent PEW survey of U.S. adults, more than 45 percent use smartphones. Lucky for participants everywhere, meeting planners are taking notice and integrating the use of these devices into conference agendas. Encouraging participants to stay engaged in social media through mobile devices is a huge reason these events are successful in the nonprofit sector, where cutting costs and adhering to tight budgets are key.

    We live in a social world; many of your participants have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn interwoven in their daily business and personal experiences. These platforms have become a means for greater interaction, personalization and individual and corporate connectivity. Associations such as the Society for Human Resource Management, and the planners behind their meetings, are challenging convention by changing how they’re communicating, and encouraging participants to keep phones on, to stay connected.

    Doing more with less is much more tangible when participants take ownership of the device in their hands and engage, and interaction builds engagement for the participants with the meeting topic, while creating greater retention among the audience. Across the board, but in association meetings in particular, live Q&A sessions on Twitter with a conference facilitator are on the rise. Organizations are also leveraging event specific applications. These offer the ability to connect participants, allow for polling, facilitate information and track meeting agendas. The development and use of these apps makes the event both contemporary and green.

    Organizers and event planners are truly tapping into something incredible when they bring social into their meetings; not only does engagement skyrocket, but so does the ability to effectively follow up with participants during and post-event. People want consistency, in the brand and in their experiences. An important part of being consistent is engaging participants before, during and after the event. Engagement on social media platforms like Twitter during an event allows organizers to collect tweets and contact information and engage and follow up through the same means. The follow-up aspect is almost as critical in an event’s success as the actual experience. One thing to note, however, is that engaging on social is a two-way street. It isn’t just for the members of the audience. It is for the brand or association as well. There must be interaction with participants, responses to questions if needed and affirmation that engagement is appreciated.

    Congrove is a managing partner at inVNT, a brand communications agency with offices in New York, London, Washington, Detroit and Jacksonville, Fla. Contact him at or

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