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Increase User Engagement For Events With Voting

Written by: Ho Son

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Over the past decade, audience engagement has evolved into an entirely new concept with the arrival of virtual and hybrid events. Today, successful events, live sports, competitions, game shows, reality TV, and even corporate conferences need to provide clear opportunities for attendees to participate and be captivated.

Leveraging voting platforms at these types of events are an instrumental event strategy to improve audience engagement.

Today, some of the most successful shows, virtual events, and in-person and hybrid conferences have successfully implemented voting campaigns into their event experience to improve audience and attendee participation and captivation. 

So, how can you use voting platforms to increase attendee engagement at virtual and hybrid events? How can you incorporate online voting with events that have live audiences and home viewers? And, how do you measure audience engagement?

Use this voting platforms guide to introduce a voting campaign into your next live, in-person, virtual or hybrid event:   

1.     Fundamentals of Audience Engagement

2.     Understanding your voter

3.     How to customize voting experiences for event attendees

4.     10 best practices for voting campaigns

5.     6 benefits of using a quality voting platform for audience engagement

FUNDAMENTALS OF AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT

Live Events Vs. Virtual Events Vs. Hybrid Events 

We assign the term "event" to the act of bringing people together for a purpose – to entertain, educate, inform, celebrate, discover or celebrate. The most traditional form of events is live in-person events. However, the rise in virtual and hybrid experiences has made the task of engaging multiple audience types – virtual and in-person – more complex.

Here are four ways to describe an event:

  • Live events – attendees physically view the event, either at the location or broadcast, in real-time

  • In-person events – attendees are physically present in one location

  • Virtual events – attendees are virtually present and may include virtual meetings

  • Hybrid events – Attendees are in person; others are virtually present

Event planners, brands, and webinar producers have all reported that attendee engagement is an important KPI metric to measure the success of their events. Still, more than half of organizers indicate that audience engagement in virtual or online events is the most difficult to maintain consistently. As hybrid events evolve, event professionals need to juggle the complexities of managing the engagement of both virtual and in-person audience members.   

What is Audience Engagement?

Audience engagement is the level of participation and captivation shown by an audience towards an event. This can be measured through metrics such as registration and attendance numbers, social media activity, audience interaction with event apps, and more. For virtual events and hybrid events, audience engagement can also be measured by clickthroughs, audience Q&A, live polls, and more.  

But why should you care? 

First, an engaged audience is more valuable. Studies show that the level of engagement with an event correlates to more spending. Not only are highly engaged audiences spending more, but they are also retaining more of the presented ads

Second, the more engaged your audience is, the more satisfied they are with your event. Creating audience engagement opportunities allow the audience to feel like their voices can be heard – and it is precisely this that an audience's vote enables.

Understanding your Voter

Before creating the ultimate voting platform for your event, you must take a step towards understanding your event audience and voters.

Step into your audience and voter's shoes – well, their mind really. Why do they attend your event? What are their behaviors, habits, and interest? What motivates them to take that leap into an active voter rather than a passive audience member. 

Audience or voter personas and other data inform event decision-making - and don't worry, it is not as complicated as you might think.

Start With Voting Personas

It is crucial you don't make assumptions about your audience or create your ideal attendee. Instead, you want to base your voting persona on tangible data that focus on specific individuals within your target audience.  

Here's how:

1. Define your target audience/attendee, including demographics like geographical location, age, sex, marital status, income (Your target audience encompasses various common elements within groups while a persona focuses on identifying differentiating factors in individuals).

2. Leverage existing data to help inform your voter profile. Website, virtual event software, and social media platforms have a wealth of easily accessible data.  

3. Create numerous persona profiles that include basic, like name and age, and specific details, like career, lifestyle factors, income, interest personal challenges. Never stop at one profile; create numerous profiles to give you a more diverse spread. 

4. Find out how the persona's interests and behaviors impact their voting habits. For example, millennials are willing to use social media for voting; boomers prefer to text or paper ballots, some people don't want to give out their personal information. 

5. Consolidate the data with a campaign management system. You want to make sure the data your use is manageable and easily accessible.  

The Importance of Voter Registration

The registration process for attendee-focused events cannot be understated, as engagement effectively starts at the level of registration. Use your different personas to create an optimal user flow for the registration.  

For example, answer the following questions using your voter persona:

1. Are the multiple registration opportunities for attendees, sponsors, nominee family?

2. Are there clear instructions for the audience on where to go next?

3. Does the vote have an impact that makes registration required in order to hold a fair, secure, verifiable vote?

4. Is your event 1-day or across multi-days/weeks?

5. Is your event employing standard voting, multi-voting, or sweepstakes?

6. Is there a live reveal, and how do you want to include the audience?

7. Do you need to inform your audience of the incentive to vote?

8. Do you need to get clothes sizes for merchandise giveaways and prizes?

9. Do you need to get postal addresses to give bags or prizes?

10. Is there a need for captions/real-time translation or audible/video instructions?

Distinguish what data you need to collect from your audience at registration and provide them with all the necessary information before they get there. Use differentiated ticket types, promo codes, QR codes, and conditional questionnaires that help your attendees purchase the correct ticket or find the right website page.

Using Voting Data

During your voting campaign, you will have collected copious amounts of data. Data can be used to fine-tune your voting platform for future campaigns or sessions. You can gather further information on your voting personas and therefore cater more specifically to that audience.  

However, you must be aware that some people will not vote if they have to use Single Sign-Ons (SSOs) because they do not want to give out their personal information. Utilizing additional voting methods like SMS and Toll-free voting will ensure these voters can be heard and gives you other valuable data into your voters.

HOW TO CUSTOMIZE VOTING EXPERIENCES FOR EVENT ATTENDEES

Customize Metrics with Goals and KPIs

Before you start building and customizing your voting solution, be sure to define the metrics you want to measure. For virtual events, attendee engagement and satisfaction KPIs is the primary determinate of the event's success. So, metrics must be settled upon from the onset, and these are communicated as goals to all team members.  

Creating User Flow

If sometimes virtual event planners find navigating a virtual event platform tricky, imagine how your first-time users can feel – don't expect voters to understand from the get-go. Planners choosing a self-managed campaign need to pay close attention to functionality for the user. Look for platforms that are UX-friendly and easy to navigate. A great addition is including FAQ sections or pop-ups or offering small video tutorials on how to place your vote.

The Connect Live interactive platform is a UX-friendly content management system (CMS) that is easy to navigate with easy-to-build templates that serve you and your audience. Alternatively, you can utilize Telescope's Operations team to develop and manage a voting campaign on your behalf.

Data Caption Points

Once you have established your metric KPIs and goals, you need to consider:

1. Which metrics best suit your goals and KPIs? 

2. Which metrics best suit the type of voting event – in-person, virtual, or hybrid?

3. During the campaign, when are the best capture points to collect meaningful data?

Consider some of these critical audience engagement metrics for virtual, live, and hybrid events: 

  • Audience retention: How many people attended the event at registration compared to when the event closed? What was the average time spent at the event? 

  • Returning users: How many people have been voting for their favorite American idol for how many seasons? How many people showed up to this year's conference compared to last year's event?

  • The number of App downloads: How many people downloaded your event app to vote?

  • Social Media Activity: Are people talking about your event? What are they saying and who are they? 

Usable Reports

During and after your event, you will have collected mountains of data from different places, such as your event management platform, social media, and mobile event app. Consider how you will store this data and how you will review the data in report form.

What are the critical data reports to have during vs. at the end of the voting campaign? Will you be using snapshots of sessions or overviews of the whole campaign? These are essential discussion points for your event management team before your voting campaign initiates.  

Add Second Screen & Play Along 

Why would you stop at just voting platforms? Instead, take your experience to the next level with a live second screen or play-along product. Live companion products are a great accompaniment to voting software. 

Invite fans to play along ( Bingo ), comment on their favorite nominees and competitors ( Passion Meter ), or take virtual quizzes/trivia with personalized results shared through their socials, live to air, or on the app.   

Get Creative with Graphics or Other Environmental Elements Integration

Use graphics in the studio or on-screen to display user participation. 

The NBA and WNBA "Tap to Cheer" campaign allows fans to cheer on the favorite team doing battle while also rewarding their efforts with animated pay-offs and full screen-take-over. 

Customize For Live Reveals

Is there a live reveal? Audiences get excited to influence the live show/event and have it appear live. Online voting systems that include custom voting tools for live reveals will engage your audience. Some great examples include hashtag battles for the final nominees in a category or a save live on the air.

How to Measure Audience Engagement with Voting Applications

Attendance Numbers

Ideal for: Live, virtual & hybrid events

For decades, event planners have used attendance metrics to gauge audience participation fundamentally – and it is still relevant today. Be aware attendance fluctuates across sessions, so record the number of people who log in or arrive compared with at the end.  

Session Registration/Retention 

Ideal for: Live, virtual & hybrid events

We have already mentioned the importance of registration, but viewer or attendee retention is just as crucial. How long do attendees stay at your event? Most event management platforms/CMS integrate easily with standard google analytics for event tracking to log user behavior on a campaign. Organizers use tangible data to see how long users spend on the website, how deep into the site they go, and if using event tracking, can see if they complete additional tasks (like sharing the vote).   

Using Tangible Data for Event tracking

Ideal for: virtual & hybrid events

Data management on the server-side is where the pixel or tag transmits data into a web server which then passes that data to the Telescope destination server. Event tracking is reliable, accurate, and tangible data that offers intelligence on how your viewers respond to your voting application or app.

Client-Supplied Tracking

Ideal for:  virtual & hybrid events

Client-supplied tracking allows event organizers to transmit data from their voting campaign, which then triggers other actions. This is commonly achieved using tags. In addition, Client-supplied tracking enables event managers to contextualize and monitor fundamental data like URL parameters/user agent data for audience engagement.

Ads

Ideal for: Live and virtual events

The number of clickthroughs and views of the advertisements on your webpage or a native app is a great virtual indicator of audience engagement.

Long-term Returning users

Ideal for: Annual or seasonal Live and virtual events likes competitions and sporting events 

Historical data from competitions and sporting events that are seasonal or annual can be precious. Campaigns that display a high number of weekly Uniques vs. low cumulative Uniques mean many people are returning

Social Media Activity (Promoted Hashtags, @ mentions, etc.)

Ideal for: Live, virtual & hybrid events

Social voting campaigns can message out the how-to-vote information in sample messages that users can retweet or repost. This drives user engagement, and you can see it because it's traceable on Social Media. Social media also promotes graphics of voting information. Also, use celebrities participating in the vote - they can advertise on the swipe-up feature of Instagram and link directly to the vote.

Use these social networks to promote the vote:

Event App Adoption and Usage

Ideal for: Live, virtual & hybrid events

Leveraging for mobile devices can improve voters' experiences, especially for live and hybrid events (it helps with data capture too). There are two metrics to track your organization's event app adoption campaign. 

First, are your voters getting adequate use of your event tech investment? How many downloads are you getting on what kind of device? 

Second, you will want to track your voters' use of your native app during the voting campaign. Are your attendees taking full advantage of all the app's features? Who uses the app to vote? 

Ideally, a voting platform and event management software will have a dashboard with event analytics that directly informs organizers how people are using the app and which features facilitate the most engagement.  

User engagement with interactive experiences 

Ideal for: Live, virtual & hybrid events

Interactivity is vital. Offering sessions where audiences can choose to engage with nominees and contestants, live reveals of keynote speakers, or celebrity guest interaction are three precious ways to bring your audience deeper. 

Measure things like: Which contestants or nominees drive traffic and engagement? Is your virtual audience using the chat and poll features with your wider community? 

Live Polling and Q&A sessions

Ideal for: Live, virtual & hybrid events

Use and Q&A to give your voting campaign real-time audience feedback. You can put a poll everywhere for immediate feedback from your users and viewers throughout the campaign rather than simply at the end. Ensure you mix your poll question types with numerical ratings (1-5), multiple-choice, and longer forms. 

Community Membership

Ideal for: Live, virtual & hybrid events

Community membership is a great way to foster engagement through cultivating connections and fortifying long-term brand affiliation. Your community can include in-app users, subreddits, Facebook groups, etc. 

Your event's community's size (numbers) is a valuable metric because it is a trackable and quantitative way to measure success. 

After a voting campaign, measure to see if your community membership numbers increase.

Moderation tool

Use a moderation tool to track data and efficiency. 

A moderation tool allows a moderator user to monitor, filter and approve audience responses for display on social media, live to air or virtual community platforms. Event management teams collect and moderate data, or you can deploy various UGC tools as automated moderation to reject or change audience UGC according to a set of established rules.

Social Wall is a great social media aggregator that showcases real-life UGC both on-site and from remote fans, but it will require a moderation tool to filter potentially inappropriate content. 

Surveys and Audience Feedback

Ideal for: Live, virtual & hybrid events

Asking attendees and audience directly for feedback is the purest way to measure engagement and success of your event management software. After your voting experience, follow up by sending your audience a survey to gather invaluable insight.

Infogroup is a great Telescope feature where event management teams receive user emails during the campaigns providing real-time insight into what's working well and make adjustments for future campaigns.  

10 Best Practices for Voting Campaigns

1.  Clear Communication

Crucial for: Live, Virtual and Hybrid events

It sounds obvious, but it is crucial to establishing a UX-friendly event experience. Ensure that the voting information is communicated throughout the show or event verbally and in graphic form. Rules or FAQ must be easy to find and utilize social blasts to make it easy for audiences to find the vote and know when/how to participate. 

And also, make sure to keep accessibility in mind. Give clear instructions on how to vote out loud and in subtitles for your audience members with disabilities. 

2.  Voter Incentives

Ideal for: Live and Virtual Events

Let's be honest; people love free stuff – twenty-three percent of people visit brands on social media to win something. Using incentives not only increases voting numbers but also helps to establish community and build brand equity. Fifty-five million Americans enter sweepstake contests annually. So, incentivize your voters with a sweepstake to win a trip to the finale, giveaway brand/event merchandise, or use live streaming to show their vote on the big screen.

3.  Know Your Nominees, Voting Methods, And Your Audience.

Crucial for: Live, Virtual and Hybrid events

As we said, knowing your audience is crucial, but this also includes understanding your nominees and who will empathize and relate to them. Keep this in mind when creating user stories to better understand why certain nominees do better or who is voting for them (e.g., what audiences tend to vote via which methods, where are contestants from, and are people from that area are voting for them, etc.)

Remember to maximize points of voting entry. We recommend three different entry points to vote (i.e., utilizing Voting App, Write-in Voting, Social Media vote, and SMS and Toll-Free Voting). SMS and Toll-Free Voting caters to those unwilling to give out private information but still want to cast their vote. 

4.  Promote Engagement Before, During, And After

Crucial for: Live, Virtual and Hybrid events

Always plan ahead of time! Planners who use voting promotional calendars and continuously monitor to look for spikes and dips have more successful voting campaigns. Also, encourage nominees, celebrities, influencers, or anyone else to promote the vote for visibility before and during the campaign.

5.  Utilize All Social Media and other Channels

Crucial for: Live, Virtual and Hybrid events

If you want to create social chatter around your event's voting campaign, then you need to utilize all your media and social channels available to you. Always remember that different demographics use different channels to connect and voice their opinions, so the more tracks you create, the more your event will cater to all your audiences' needs. 

Examples of social channels you should exhaust include:

  • Twitter, hashtags, TikTok Vote, etc. 

  • Hashtag votes – be sure to include misspells in your acceptable keywords to account for easy to make typos

  • Facebook Messenger Vote

  • Native Apps

  • Smart speakers (Google and Alexa) 

  • Push notifications

A great example of social voting comes from the Billboard Music Awards. The BMA’s engaged millions with their TikTok Vote platform. 

Read more about the collaborative success behind the , and how you can engage with Gen-Z with TikTok. 

6. Using Different Engagement Methods

Crucial for: Live, Virtual and Hybrid Events

While adding voting software will increase your engagement – why would you stop there! Having multiple engagement tools at your audience's disposal can keep them captivated throughout a session. Design your campaign to build and hold the interest of your audience with Play-Along and Second Screen , trivia, or sweepstakes , before and after.

Predictor with Leaderboard offers fans an addictive and straightforward user experience that encourages them to predict outcomes before and during the event, show/game.

7.  Gamification Voting

Great for: Live Events

Gamify everything! Gamification attracts new potential users and retains existing attendees by keeping them actively engaged in the event. For example, Universal Kids' and Telescope created American Ninja Warrior Jr. Play-Along experience with a storyline and implementing various rewards systems, On-Air integration , and live voting software, a.k.a Telescope's Passion Meter, to create impactful engagement for viewers. Since 2015, Telescope has seen a 2700 percent increase in gamification on voter campaign use.

8. Know The Rules

Crucial for: Live, Virtual and Hybrid events

Make sure the voting rules are clear and straightforward. You want as many people as possible to participate, so keep the barrier to entry as low as possible. You also want to be aware of any legal restrictions to texting, capturing data, etc. 

9. Timeframes

Crucial for: Live, Virtual and Hybrid events

Careful consideration needs to go to tailoring the right session length to the event. Usually, more extended time frames are better suited to competitions to give your fans more time to vote at their convenience. However, live events do better with shorter time frames to create urgency and allow for On-Air results .  

10.  Organization

Crucial for: Live, Virtual and Hybrid events

During a campaign, you collect copious amounts of data collecting so much data from registration, contacts, vote results, audience behavior, and more. Ensure you're using a well-established platform to manage and deliver a high volume of metrics.

6 Benefits of Using a Quality Voting Platform for Audience Engagement

1.  Increase engagement on-page or overall event/campaign

Research shows us that your brand or organization's website gets instant on-page traffic by leveraging audience response systems in virtual events. Live and Hybrid events see overall engagement for the campaign or event. Adding a voting component to an existing campaign also strengthens its success – sweepstakes see a sixty-two percent increase in conversion when adding voting elements.  

2.  Security and Verification 

Security and verification are major elements that you need to consider when choosing a quality voting platform. Unverified polls can quickly lead to spam, inaccurate data, and bad experiences for other users. A high-quality voting platform will have all the security features needed for a successful campaign.

3. Leverage Branding & sponsorship

Events using voting platforms for higher audience engagement report increases in branding and sponsorship exposure. The more you employ and promote interactivity, UX-friendly experiences, and community engagement, the more your brand's equity and affiliation increase in the eyes of your audience and attendees. Furthermore, creating these engaging and fun opportunities also attracts celebrity endorsement and sponsorship, which ultimately magnifies your brand's exposure.

4. Increase Social Media Growth

The benefit of social media is a crucial feature of the article, but it simply should not be understated – social media is a must-have addition to voting campaigns. Voting campaigns that use social media to promote their vote see more significant traffic and grow their social media presence, following, and community. 

But the greatest benefit for using a quality voting platform is the possibility of using social media as a way to vote , which allows you to grow your social media presence and engage with your audience simultaneously. 

5. Direct Messaging/Chat/ Live Q&A

Good voting software will also have avenues that enable networking. Increase messaging between attendees equals high engagement. This function can foster a sense of community for members within your events, especially within defined teams, such as fans of sporting teams or fans of nominees in televised competitions like or .

6. Get Feedback with Event Polls/Reviews

Quality voting software seamlessly enables live feedback before, during, and after the voting . Ideally, voters review with a mixture of numerical style (ratings of 1-5), multiple-choice questions, and open-ended forms – avoid limiting their feedback. Also, give attendees options to opt out of providing feedback. Gathering this information gives event managers opportunities to look at the data and make adjustments if needed.

Key Take-Aways: Using Voting for Audience Engagement

 As a recap, here are some of the most crucial points to remember:

  • Understanding your audience, nominees, contestants, keynote speakers will help you determine the best voting methods;

  • For hybrid events, remember to consider different engagement opportunities for both your in-person and virtual audience members;

  • Technology is your best friend for live, hybrid, or virtual events – embrace it;

  • Utilize different channels to promote your vote and include other voting methods across your campaign.

  • Adopt a well-established voting platform that offers all the essential features to make your voting campaign a success. 

Accurate event management is key to your voting campaign's success which should be measured and strategized in considerable detail. As virtual and hybrid events are set to rise across all industries, planners must adapt their event strategy to captivate and engage all audience members. Use this guide to help you plan your next voting campaign, or use Telescope's event management teams to get professional help with your .

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