Want a promotional campaign that gets results? The American Society of Transplant Services tried this: Ask a portion of attendees from the previous annual meeting to record 60-second videos about the most useful lesson they learned from the event, and what they were most looking forward to learning about at the next annual meeting.
After collecting more than 20 videos, ASTS began an email marketing campaign using an A/B testing approach: Half of the emails sent to potential attendees featured a colleague’s video while the other half did not. The emails containing a video garnered 320 percent more click-throughs than those without a video.
The magic ingredient: “Making people co-creators delivers so many useful perspectives,” says Michael Hoffman, CEO of Gather Voices, who spoke on this topic at the IMEX America show held in early November in Las Vegas. Besides asking attendees about the previous event in the run-up to the next one, you can ask likely attendees “to provide a recent experience they had that relates to a topic that will be discussed at the upcoming event. Then, right after the event, you can ask people to provide one insight they took away that will help them the most in their work.”
While there are companies such as Gather Voices that provide a platform for creating, housing, and sharing user-generated video content, meeting hosts could also do it themselves, given the ease of mobile-phone video. However, members or employees who choose to participate will need tips on proper lighting, positioning themselves in front of their computer or mobile-phone camera and microphone, and proper pacing of their delivery.
Videos collected from the show floor during an event are even easier to collect and provide great material for post-event communications or for dedicated web pages aimed at educating both attendees and non-attendees. Firms such as Gather Voices can do this on site using their staff and technology, or the event host can dedicate a staffer to the task and set up in a relatively quiet area on the show floor with an iPad or a mobile phone on a tripod, a ring light around the recording unit, and a good microphone.
Event hosts can use on-site signage to drive excitement around attendee-generated videos and offer prizes drawings for contributors. They can also reward early adopters, who will provide a critical mass of videos the host can promote to get views ahead of the event, which will spur on-site participation by other attendees.
Regardless of whether people provide their content from home, the office, or the show floor, here are the two most important elements for getting good attendee-generated content: First, “audio quality is paramount versus visual quality; you must make sure that the voices are recorded clearly,” Hoffman says. Second, “be specific in what you ask each person to talk about.” While you may allow them to choose from a few topics, each topic must elicit focused information and perspective in order to draw viewers in and keep them watching, even for just 60 seconds.
How the Content Can Be Used
While a gallery of videos is effective for marketing purposes, having that many different perspectives is even more useful as an educational resource for both association and corporate groups.
Consider this: As much as pharma and medical-device reps mingle and converse during in-person events, there’s no hope of spending time with everyone on site. Being able to hear a bit of wisdom picked up by a wide range of attendees is invaluable–it provides a jumping-off point for a conversation and further learning via email, online chat forum, audio or video call, or at the next in-person event. And for associations, these attendee perspectives can help mold session agendas for future events and then act as marketing material for those events. The videos can even be used during an event as session openers that drive conversation.
Lastly, with so much self-generated content across the internet, “people are used to material that is not highly produced; it comes across as more authentic than fully polished video productions,” Hoffman notes. And when it delivers content from colleagues who understand the industry and the job function, the credibility of the content increases, generating more interest. “People who like to do it can be convinced to do more for your organization throughout the year,” says Hoffman. “Recognition and status are strong incentives to participate.”