The Wisdom of Crowds

It seems like a trend called “crowdsourcing” is on the rise among #eventprofs these days, but what exactly is crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing is the process of obtaining information or input into a particular task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people, paid or unpaid.

An everyday challenge for event planners is how to get their attendees more involved and engaged at events. You can always try and look at your event from the outside in, but more heads are better than one. So how can you deliver the type of event that your attendees are looking for while getting them engaged at the same time? Crowdsourcing has become more and more prominent among event planners to give attendees what they want, and here’s how:

Session speakers and topics

There are many ways to handle speaker/topic submissions and review processes. For example, etouches offers eSelect which is made to easily handle a variety of selection processes. It allows external reviewers and committees to easily evaluate submissions. But what if we take it one step further and let attendees choose what topics they want to learn about or speakers they want to hear from before they even get to the event? Someone might come out of the woodwork with a new and fresh speaker or topic that you have never even heard of.

One way to use crowdsourcing for speakers and topics at events is to accept video pitches and have attendees vote on it, Adam Parry of Event Industry News uses this method at Event Tech Live. At this event, there were two streams of “campfire sessions” which are 10 or 20 minute informal and interactive sessions. To begin the process of selecting content, they accept 60 second video submissions that will be put out to the public to vote. The ones with the highest votes get chosen to present at the event. This is also a way to get people to promote your event, they will campaign for their favorite session to get picked!

Event theme & design

Event themes may be a little bit tricky to come up with sometimes, especially if you’ve been in the business for years. Themes may get recycled and as an attendee, why would you want to attend an event you feel like you have already been to? You can use a survey tool such as SurveyMonkey or etouches’ eSurvey module to poll your attendees on what they thought about past events and suggestions for future ones. Attendees can also have input on the entertainment at your events, ways to go green, food options, venues etc.

Create the event that your attendees are looking for by crowdsourcing content, themes and sessions (click to tweet)

Social media

A really good way to expand attendee engagement and to get some free promo at an event is to offer an incentive to attendees who take the best picture or videos at your event. If you offer a prize for the best picture or video, most of your attendees will join in on social media which could get huge traction online during and post event. This is also your opportunity to see your event through your attendees eyes while capturing content for future promotion. You can see what they liked most and what they want to see come back. By taking some of the best moments from your events you can create a “wrap-up story” and send it to your attendees post event or use it to engage future attendees.

As there may be some cons to crowdsourcing, there are plenty of benefits as well. First of all, you build a relationship with your crowd while getting to know your demographic; more heads are better than one, especially ones that have something to say about your event. When you have a lot of information from attendees about a future event, you can target your exhibitors, partners and sponsors with more conviction. Crowdsourcing could also make up for your lack of time, contacts or resources while generating excitement.

Why not create the event that your attendees are looking for? After all, they are the reason you are hosting the event.

Written by Sara Erdos

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