How Do You Keep 50,000 Participants Engaged?


Selling out a mass participation event is always a challenge for any event organiser.

All too often, on limited budgets, many events find that some sections of their target market are not being engaged with. Even if an event is full, how do you continue to keep participants engaged so that they come back year after year?

With the continued huge growth of the mass participation sports event sector, it becomes even more challenging. For example if we look at the number of just running events in Singapore, the figures are astounding. The city averages 3-4 events per week and they are mostly combinations and amalgamations of one another. How does one stand out from another and why do some struggle to fill while others sell out in the early bird phase?

CEO of GroupM’s Content Division across the Asia Pacific region, Josh Black, sheds some light of his experiences on the pain that many mass participation event organisers share on participant engagement.

Josh believes that the most common mistake events make when creating content is that most of their content revolves around selling the event or promoting the sponsors. As a result, most content generated falls into interruption based media that most consumers are trying to avoid these days. Black feels strongly that brands and events need to find smarter ways to integrate their product or message meaningfully into the narrative.

“You need to become part of the story, not the advertisement continually interrupting it”, he iterates.

In addition, Josh believes that the biggest opportunity that mass participation events miss is their post-event content. The minute most competitors walk off-site, they never hear from the event again. These people are the biggest potential repeat customers so events need to figure out ways to nurture, build and grow that relationship on a year round basis.

However, when done right, your target community will be invested in your story. Some of Josh’s favorites include Nike’s campaign around their “Women” and “Run the Town” events that build a hyped up community. Also Gatorade’s subtle advertising pieces such as Inside Endurance surrounding their Marathon and Ironman properties, and even how Pizza Hut worked around The Walking Dead TV format where they focused on enriching the audience experience by producing and showing additional back-story content on a webisode platform instead of integrating their product into the show.

Today, the average content a typical person is exposed to is ever increasing. Mass participation events need to start looking at ways they can get in front of their target audience without making them feel that they are being advertised to.

Josh Black will be presenting his piece on Keeping Participants Engaged Through Content at the upcoming Mass Participation Asia Conference 2015. Tickets and details can be found at

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