Using event gamification to increase event engagement

Post-event analytics are telling you that the number one priority is to increase engagement. How can your event do even better next time?

July 13, 2021

- 2 min read

You’ve already run one or more virtual events, and you’ve discovered the many benefits including lower costs, increased audience diversity, excellent data, time savings and the lower carbon footprint. It’s been a qualified success, but the post-event analytics are telling you that the number one priority is to increase engagement. How can your event do even better next time? 

There are many techniques to drive engagement, some of the suggestions are easy to say but harder to do, like “improve the content”. If you could just persuade Michelle Obama to be your next keynote, everything else would follow! The more realistic suggestion is to increase participation by getting the audience involved as much as possible, via pre-arranged meetings and participation in the panel sessions. People are much more engaged with something that they are actively involved in. Canapii’s tools for creating randomly assigned breakouts, and arranging instant group meetings, are invaluable to support this goal. 

There is another element though, which is also one of Canapii’s strongest features. There is a child inside all of us and we all like to play. If you are doubter, look at how popular fantasy NFL and Premier league have become. Tens of millions play these games every week, creating substantial economic activity around advertising, podcasts, videos, and chat groups. Players become addicted to the stats and their rankings, rule changes are heatedly debated, winners are celebrated while the losers are teased.  

It’s time to Gamify your event.  

How does Gamification work? 

First, let’s explain how it works. An event organizer can setup a points-based system that rewards attendees for all sorts of activities, including: 

Attending sessions
Setting up meetings, perhaps with double points awarded if they are inviting a sponsor to talk
Uploading their profile picture
Sending chat messages, or asking questions to a presenter
Watching several on-demand sessions, with a requirement to view at least 75% of the content each time
Taking part in an event activity, like a run, ride or fund-raising initiative

The organizer can decide how many points to award for each activity, so biasing behavior to suit their event best.

Canapii also let’s an organizer create their own rules, making each event unique. For example, points can be tied to individual sessions. If Wednesday 5pm is predicted as the graveyard slot then award triple points for responding to a poll in that session.  

The beauty of this approach is that real-time leaderboards can then display who the top performers are at any time. These leaderboards can be displayed publicly or kept hidden behind the scenes in the organizer’s console. The leaderboards can be organized by attendee type, useful for celebrating the most active participant from, say, Ohio, or from the media. 

“Carrot and stick” approach 

Canapii’s events serve many purposes, with different goals across industry sectors. They can be free-to-attend, sponsor funded, educational, not-for profit or internal events for large corporates. The role of gamification varies widely, depending on the return-on-investment goals.  

Let’s start simply. The winner, or winners, should get prizes. That is the easy part, to celebrate success! Winners can be called up on stage in the closing keynote, given a free trip, or a tech prize, or offered whatever is consistent with the event values. The most energetic users will have motivated other participants. This network effect is the dream of any event organizer and should be recognized. 

Our experience is that 30-50% of attendees will take the leaderboard seriously. A group will be fiercely competitive, study the rules, and try to win. There are others, often the older/more senior participants who will not understand that the game has even kicked off. So spread the word by creating team events and leaderboards. Plenty of psychological evidence exists to suggest that people feel far more guilty for letting a team down than they do when they fail themselves.  

Another alternative is to create badges, say gold, silver, bronze and tin. Notify all the attendees’ their status post-event. The idea is to hope that some of these winning mails are forwarded to bosses, or are posted on social media, so that other attendees end up being questioned “which badge did you get?” 
Another option is to invite the leaders to a special occasion at your next event, perhaps a cocktail reception if you are lucky enough to be in-person. Keep it strict, only let those that have qualified to drink that champagne. Word will then spread that these badges can mean something valuable. 

The data at our events is so rich that we can have surprises for our lazier attendees too. For this group, find a big stick! 

Here are a collection of our favourite examples: 

For paid ticket events, offer a 25% discount coupon for the top 100 on the leaderboard to a future event 
For invitation-only events, set a minimum number of points that need to be earned to qualify for an invitation to next year’s event 
For educational events, offer a certificate of completion. Drive this based on the session minutes of sessions watched by an attendee. 

Promote your values, drive good causes 

This theme is best illustrated by a real-world example that took place on our platform a few weeks ago, by Schneider Electric. Schneider is an innovative company that takes its Environmental, Social and Governance issues so seriously that it was recently ranked as the world’s most sustainable corporation by Corporate Knights.  

Schneider used gamification, not as a competition between attendees, but as a call to action for all attendees with a wonderful, shared goal. Every point earned contributed to Schneider planting a tree, so everyone was contributing to a target of planting 10k new trees. A wonderful use of Canapii’s gamification tool to drive event engagement, by creating an aspirational goal totally consistent with Schneider’s core values.     

eleanor martin

Eleanor Martin

Co-Founder at Canapii

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