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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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3 Lessons Associations Can Learn from Shark Week

Posted by Callie Walker


Over the past few years, Shark Week has taken over millions of TVs in homes across the world. Kids tune in, adults tune in, teens tune in – we eat Shark Week up!

But have we always liked sharks this much? Not really. It wasn’t until recently that the shark phenomenon really got going. So what exactly caused this major shift? Well, three brilliant strategies from Discovery Channel, if I must say so myself.

Associations, take note:

Lesson #1: Whenever possible, generate excitement.

Part of the fun of Shark Week is anticipating Shark Week. Discovery Channel does a great job of generating excitement prior to the actual event. They update their social media pages, change their profile pictures and headers, release exciting promo videos and update their website accordingly. It’s because of these tactics that people have Shark Week marked on their calendars weeks in advance. 


Now as a small-staff association professional, you’re not going to be able to generate this much buzz about your upcoming event, but you can use these tactics to build anticipation and drive overall awareness.

Lesson #2: Don’t underestimate the power of partnerships.

Discovery Channel is great about establishing Shark Week partners. This year they partnered with Volkswagen, Dunkin Donuts, Southwest Airlines, and more. These companies promote Shark Week on their own websites and social media accounts, and in return, Discovery Channel features them on its website. This type of support exposes new audiences to Shark Week and keeps the momentum going. 


Partnerships are especially great for small-staff associations because, as long as they’re mutually beneficial, they’re typically free!

Lesson #3: Always involve your audience.

When it comes to audience participation, Discovery Channel takes the cake. How do they get so many people to interact with them? Simple: They give them opportunities to interact with them. They list their hashtags online and on TV, they retweet their fans and followers, they host live Q&A’s – the list goes on and on. 


Association professionals, remember: the easier you make it for people to interact with you, the more likely they are to actually do so.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an episode of Shark in the Dark on my DVR that I’m dying to watch.

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Topics: association leadership, small staff association, social media for associations, event planning, member engagement, Small Staff Chatter

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