by Dana Freker Doody, VP of Communications and Strategic Client Solutions at The Expo Group
Crowdsourcing is a growing trend in our business, meaning it’s not just a fad spurred by SXSW but has lasting value for positive attendee experiences. PCMA (Professional Convention Managers Association) has created crowdsourcing opportunities for several conferences now, with varying provision of tools and differing degrees of interest.
At PCMA Education Conference, participants were encouraged to submit their ideas for a session and “vote up” the submitted ideas. The top ideas were then announced as sessions in blocks and spaces that had been reserved for this purpose.
A Few Notes on Crowdsourcing Execution
1. Have a Communications Plan Ready – Use social media, the conference app and stage time to announce which sessions will be held, plus when and where.
2. Announce the Content Leaders – For many participants the speaker/moderator is a big factor in the decision about where they’ll spend their time.
3. Plan for Great Moderators – Crowdsourced sessions and the people who go to them want interaction so have a strong moderator ready for anything; breaking up the audience into smaller sections, gleaning the big takeaways, and even providing a wrap up or consensus. Plan ahead and reserve some great moderators.
4. Use Data Acquired for Future Planning – the sessions voted up indicate interest from your audience even if they didn’t make the very top spot, so consider them next time you’re at the planning table.
Several methods exist for crowdsourcing, all effective to varying degrees based on your audience and the encouragement you give it. It’s worked on big sheets of paper in the back of the keynote room, if you like to kick it old school style. And there are mobile apps enabling Crowdsourcing as well as web-based polling sites. CoreApps has integrated with Conferences IO, the solution used at the latest PCMA EduCon to positive effect. (Pictured here.)
Regardless of the crowdsource method, feedback from your participants is vital to building compelling experiences that personally matter and keep attendees returning.