speaker at the 3686 Conference in Nashville Tennessee

Reaching Your Event Audience in Real Time

I’m asked all the time from clients for new ideas for reaching their audiences. That’s to be expected; it’s much of what they pay us for, after all. And while it’s fun to be able to think of ways for them to take advantage of the latest social apps, those ideas aren’t always realistic.

But that doesn’t stop us from considering why Snapchat and other new media have taken off with such velocity: Because when used at their best, they bring us back to the nature of real-time human communication.

Our client Launch Tennessee hosts one of the country’s best tech / entrepreneur conferences — 36|86 — every year. Smart people from across the world come to share ideas, practice their pitches and try to find the next big thing. It’s an opportunity for us to try some fun new things on an audience that we know will be receptive to them.

And this year, real-time engagement with conference goers was high on LaunchTN’s priorities list. So we used event app platform Attendify to create an easily accessible way for attendees to participate in all aspects of the conference. Our goals were relatively simple.

Personalize the experience

Our app allows people to set their own agenda, glance over the full schedule to fit in any other meetings they have planned, and select the breakout sessions that best fit them. Moreover, every attendee creates a personal profile with headshot and bio, and can chat with other attendees during the event. After all, conferences are tremendous networking opportunities and we should facilitate that however we can.

Make it social

The app homepage is a live stream of comments, announcements and other media from attendees and the LaunchTN team that can be sent straight to Twitter or Facebook, so people can broadcast the experience to their social followers. It also displays a Twitter feed of all activity using the #3686South hashtag to encourage action on the network.

Give people a reason to use it

One of the highlights of 36|86 is a competition that awards $50,000 in funding to the startup company that delivers the most effective “pitch.” The 36 startups invited each get to pitch to the audience, and five are voted through to the final round. Conference attendees actually vote on which startups make it through, so it’s extremely important to get everyone engaged.

This year, the app powers all voting through live polls sent out as the fledgling companies go through their pitches. Attendees watch and vote in real time, and LaunchTN gets results in real time. (Last year they hand counted wooden tokens and I can assure you it was not much fun for them!) Using the app for such a vital and popular part of the conference means that people have a strong incentive to download and use it.

Bonus: show off your town

We know (or at least hope) people from out of town don’t just come to the conference and head straight back to their hotel to sleep. Especially not in Nashville! This year, 36|86 was held in the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center, smack dab in the middle of downtown. We added some nearby, fun places to check out, and dropped in a map so they can get there without worry.

Even better, every year LaunchTN partners with Lyft to give ride discounts to 36|86 attendees so they can explore the town without breaking the bank. This year codes were shared straight through the app!