Post authored by Donna Kastner, Event Marketing Specialist
True confession time: My appetite for conference learning and networking is voracious and it often exceeds my available time and budget. In turn, the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) on exceptional learning and peer-to-peer exchanges is a strong force influencing my decision to attend any event.
Over the past few months, my FOMO capacity reached epic levels, as there were several industry events tackling topics that were at the top of my priority list. As I scanned the “Who Else is Coming” lists, this fear grew stronger as I spotted thought leaders and friends who were also attending.
Alas, there are only so many days and dollars, so I had to make some tough choices. That’s when I discovered a force that could be more powerful than FOMO…
ROMO: Regret Over Missing Out
When I can’t attend a conference that’s aligned with goals and objectives I’m striving to achieve, I’ll often scan the hashtag activity to get a glimpse of what I missed.
There was one instance during this recent FOMO flurry, where two events were competing head-to-head on the very same dates. Sadly, as I compared the hashtag stream for the conference I attended with the stream for the one I didn’t attend, a new emotion bubbled up – Regret Over Missing Out (ROMO).
While hashtag activity is hardly the sole determinant of event value, it’s an indicator to keep an eye on and the difference between these two competing events was stunning. Hashtag activity for the event I attended was sporadic, while the other conference hashtag was bursting with activity. There were so many more attendees sharing photos, observations and raves via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
All I could think was, “Holy cow – did I make the wrong choice?”
Bottom Line: The event I missed has now earned a spot on my “must attend” list.
Smart Ways to Tap ROMO to Grow Attendance and Loyalty
While FOMO can sway decisions to attend and it’s something you’ll want to incorporate in your pre-event marketing campaigns, this concept of ROMO is intriguing, because it tends to run deeper and last longer.
Thinking back on my own recent experiences, this sense of regret over what I missed has prompted me to step up involvement with the community associated with the event I didn’t attend.
As associations continue to deal with a host of disruptive forces, this sense of belonging and yearning for richer encounters is something associations could capitalize on for many months to come via digital channels. ROMO strikes me as a stronger catalyst for long-term revenue growth, as well.
Here are three suggestions to improve the ROMO factor for your events:
1.) Step Up Your Hashtag Strategy
You can’t just put a hashtag out there and expect people to start using it. You’ll need to promote it and “prime the pump” with plenty of teasers before your event. Recruit a few industry influencers who are eager to contribute. You might even run a contest where tweets become contest entries. Encourage your speakers, volunteers, leadership and staff to step up their own social sharing. Go a step further and provide a few examples of what they might share.
According to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, “Most conferences flat out get this wrong. Don’t pick a hashtag that is either already in use or includes a year in it. What you want is a hashtag (like #CMWorld) that you can own and that you don’t have to change every year.”
Your hashtag is an event brand asset. Treat it accordingly and you’ll be amazed at how this amplifies sharing and increases social proof of performance.
2.) Live-Stream “Best Moments” to a Remote Audience
In the early days, some were concerned that live-streaming portions of your conference might cannibalize your live event audience. Nothing could be further from the truth, as we now have evidence that it’s one of the smartest marketing investments you can make. Keep in mind, if you don’t do this, with Facebook Live and other DIY broadcast platforms multiplying, your crowd will take it on themselves.
Borrow a page from the PCMA live-stream playbook – they’re mastering this concept with sessions and quick interviews being delivered to a remote audience and it’s free. This live-streaming, coupled with smart chat box moderation, is not only increasing ROMO for those watching from afar – it’s prompting more remote participants to attend in-person the following year.
3.) Drip Out a Series of Post-Event Opportunities
Remember that conference I mentioned earlier with the explosive hashtag stream? Oddly enough, even though it was once full of vibrancy, this conference went dark immediately following their live event. That’s too bad, because this ROMO-ridden professional would have paid dearly for meaningful online experiences to engage with speakers, attendees and others.
Give your audience—both those who attended and those who didn’t—more opportunities to revisit, discuss and build upon what they learned and your crowd will grow even larger.
While we’re on the topic of “dripping out,” some events make the mistake of publishing all post-event content in one fell swoop. It’s much better to space out valuable pieces, one-by-one, over a longer span of time. When you can make visiting your website a regular habit for members, guests, sponsors and others, that’s when the real magic happens.
Could ROMO be the next big thing in event marketing? What other tips would you add to this list?