by Pete Lada | December 01, 2017
Mobile and social technology are inextricably linked: Both are underpinnings of effective modern communication. So when it comes to creating your event app, it's important to understand that a successful app is one with social functionality at the core of the mobile experience. As the lead product designer and creative director at Guidebook, I'm constantly thinking about how to help companies optimize their apps -- and today, an app's social capabilities are a big part of creating the exceptional event experience we're all after. However, social isn't simply about linking out to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (though, yes, that's essential); rather, it's about amplifying social engagement directly within your event app. Consider these best practices to use social functionality to improve event networking and engagement.

Give attendees and sponsors something to get excited about and participate in from the moment they download the app.
Focus social efforts on photos. Generate buzz by having your team post, like and comment on photos, and make sure that functionality is very easy for users.

Initiate contests and provide rewards. Consider any incentive to spark conversation and content sharing.

 In addition to rewarding highly engaged participants, use personalized social elements to target and incent users who are not engaged.

Don't assume social interaction will happen organically. Consider creating a team of evangelists or "connectors" (a marketing team, returning sponsors, enthusiastic attendees) who will mobilize others to engage with content and people via the app.

Help attendees find those with similar interests. By showing who attended the same sessions, or who's following certain discussions on the app's social platforms, you simplify networking.
Foster networking with the ability to tag people, sessions and photos, and track likes and comments. This will make it easy for attendees to reach out and connect directly.

Create an interactive feed to display the trending sessions and what social activities, demos, etc., people are attending.

Send targeted invitations, such as to attendees of a specific session, for an in-person lunch, demo or gathering on a related topic.

The app is an important extension of your event. Having a consistent brand, voice and personality that carries through from the event to the app goes a long way in creating a memorable experience.
Use social features to create a bridge between your offline and online event experience, making the app an extension of what's happening in person.

 Invite exhibitors and sponsors to bring offline conversations online to an interactive social feed. Why limit a relevant conversation to three people at the booth, when it can be shared with the whole convention?

Mobile apps democratize the playing field. Posting on social media platforms may be too intimidating for some of your audience.
Create ways for people to "raise their hands" and participate in a non-threatening app environment; e.g., create a survey about a popular session or trending topic.

 Funnel hot topics or timely debates raised on external social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) to the event audience by initiating a poll or conversation in the app.

 Allow for networking to continue once the event is over. Socializing in the app can translate to longer-term connections.