Time for New Event Management Software?
First Try Optimizing Existing Tech
Are the many event management software and technology choices sending you running for cover?
Before you get overwhelmed, identify the event trends that make sense for your organization and look at your existing technology tools to see if they are being used to their optimum capacity.
Look at your existing technology first
When you look at the ideas above, you’ll see that not only are some of these easy to implement, but many don’t require you learning or purchasing new event management software. Some involve tech specs for your venue, to ensure folks can access the Internet and offer a mobile-friendly environment. Others may mean working with speakers or presenters to tailor their presentations to suit your participant’s learning styles and provide pre- and post-event materials in shareable formats.
But in many cases, the bottom line involves moving your processes online and better utilizing your existing contact or member database to enhance your email outreach. Remember that technology can help with the planning, promotion, and overall success of your event. And let’s be honest, there’s no turning back - so we need to embrace the technologies that best suit our event and our organization’s needs.
Tips for optimizing existing tech tools:
Before you start checking out a multitude of new software or apps to help manage and promote your event, take stock of the tools that you are already have in place to see if they are being used to their full potential.
Are you using your existing event management tools?
You may not need to purchase stand-alone event management software. If you are using membership management software or an association management system – it probably offers events capabilities. Many of the web-based, all inclusive programs (such as Wild Apricot) include an events module that enables you to automate both your event promotion and registration. For example, you may be able to:
- Create automatic email event notices to all or selected contacts in your email database (e.g., members, supporters, past event guests, etc.) So rather than mailing your event brochure, you save paper and also offer direct access to online registration via a live link in your email.
- Send automated email reminders a few weeks or a few days in advance of the event
- Enable online registration, payment, and auto confirmations
- Send post-event follow-up emails to participants (include a link to post-event feedback forms – via online surveys e.g., via Survey Monkey)
- Capture, track and report on event registrations and payments
Is your website optimized for events?
These days, your website is where folks will be looking for details on your event as well as options for online registration. Here are a few “must have’s” for promoting events on your website:
- Be sure you offer event promo in the “news” or “upcoming events” sections of your website
- Develop and update an online events calendar
- Create a dedicated web page for each event -- that can include photos, details, maps and a link to online registration
- Include information about the event in your Members-only Forum and create new discussion threads that your supporters or members can follow
- Promote the event through a series of posts on your blog
What about optimizing your social networking capabilities?
You can’t ignore social media’s impact. Pew Internet Research recently confirmed that “73% of online adults now use a social networking site of some kind.” But if your organization is just getting started with social networking, here are some basic ideas for optimizing social sharing of events:
- Enable social sharing: Make it easy for folks to share! If you haven’t already, be sure you enable social media sharing on your website. The process of embedding sharing buttons or widgets (for Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) will depend on your web platform. Most system providers offer simple instructions for embedding code for these widgets.
- Twitter: Be sure to create a Twitter hashtag for the event and ask folks to use it when they tweet about key event information and updates. And be sure to include your hashtag on all event web pages, emails, blogs, etc. to build buzz.
- Facebook: If you don’t already have one, consider creating a Facebook page – so you can post information regularly about your event (share photos, blog posts, etc.) and folks can “Like” and share this with their Facebook friends. You can also “promote posts” on Facebook to get your message out to a broader audience. If you don’t have access to online events management software, you might consider creating a Facebook Event
- YouTube: Create and/or edit an existing video promoting your event and/or your organization and upload this to YouTube or Flickr.
- LinkedIn: You can promote your event to your own LinkedIn network by “sharing” an update with a link to your event page; Facebook event, etc. You can also use the LinkedIn Events Application to automatically promote the event to your network (the people you are connected to in the first level on LinkedIn).
Don’t let event technology send you running for cover
Technology can help you can increase your event’s success and improve your event planning, promotion and management effectiveness. So embrace it, but be sure to start by checking out the tech tools you are already using to ensure these are being fully optimized before you get overwhelmed with the multitude of new media technologies.
Here are some additional resources that might help.
Image source: Clock...with time for new technology - courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com