How to Create Engaging Conference Websites
Does it make people who visit your website want to return again and again?
And ultimately, does it have a strong call to action to register and become an active member?
When you enter a conference website, there is certain information you can expect to find like:
- Program Information
- Speaker Listings
- Sponsor/Exhibitor Information
While this information is necessary, are you missing an opportunity to turn this site into a place to interact and learn from others (regardless of role) before, during and after the conference?
After all, creating a networking opportunity is one of the purposes of your annual meeting, right?
Your conference website should include other components such as:
- Learn From Others (Blog Feed Discussions)
- Online Discussions (Logistics, Burn Questions)
- Educational Resources (Handouts, Technical Papers)
- Personalized Itineraries
Create One Centralized Website for Resources and Networking
Instead of having one static website of links to conference handouts and relying on Facebook or Twitter to create pre-conference engagement, try combining both into one centralized website.
The Result: The AMC Institute 2012 Annual Meeting Website
The AMC Institute recently created an engaging and interactive place for their 2012 Annual Meeting participants to not only have access to educational resources, but also to get to know other participants. Hit their home page, and you automatically see the friendly faces of registered attendees, speakers, exhibitors and sponsors. It’s their place to engage.
Here’s how they did it.
4 Ways to Make Your Conference Website More Interactive
- Rich Profiles that Connect People: Attendees, speakers and sponsors are able to create profiles that go beyond the standard bio. Participants are able to format their bios and include tweets, links and customized messages. They can even add tags and categories to their profiles, making it easy to connect with other participants with similar interests.
- Session and Appointment Scheduling: Let’s say a registered attendee finds an exhibitor they’d like to spend some one-on-one time with. AMC Institute’s website allows participants to set up appointments prior to the conference. Being able to connect ahead of time ensures that participants make the most out of the networking opportunities at the actual event. Similarly, they are also able to choose their sessions ahead of time and create personalized itineraries.
- Access to Content: Make recorded sessions, PDF files and eBooks readily available to registered users to create more hype for your conference ahead of time and keep users coming back after it has ended.
- Make it Mobile Friendly: People are not in their offices when they are at your annual meeting, so conference websites must be mobile. Whether someone wants to access the site by desktop computer, tablet or email, they should at least have the option.
Market Your Conference Website
Overall, a conference website that will “WOW” your attendees, speakers and exhibitors (like AMC Institute’s 2012 Annual Meeting site does) should provide one place for them to get their conference content and interact with each other.
At the same time, your conference website isn’t going to do your work for you. Once it’s up and running (ideally 6-10 months out from your actual conference), begin marketing your website in your communications and through social media sites. By the time the event rolls around, your conference website should be rocking!
Oh yeah, and did you notice the big, fat “REGISTER” button on AMC Institute’s website? It was hard to miss, wasn’t it?
So, back to the big question…
What are you doing to make sure your conference website is the one-stop, interactive hub for all your conference participants?