The Seven Essential Functions of Successful Event Apps

By Lesa Ukman Aug 4, 2011

My last post shared some great examples of festival and event apps that build audience engagement for both the properties and their sponsors. In reviewing the elements that allow apps to live up to their engagement potential, seven specific functions rise to the top:

Schedule. Users can browse the line-up; review links to acts’ social media pages and audio and video files; add shows to calendar; share plans with friends via Facebook or Twitter; set reminders.

Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival used the company behind image-based-scheduling app Diacarta to design the event’s app. Users could click on a schedule and scroll through the acts playing on each of the three days of the fest, click on a band for more info, and tap a plus sign to add a show to their calendar, which came in the form of three clocks — one for each day — with the bands situated around the face at the time they performed.

Picker. Users can get recommendations based on their iTunes library or bands they are fans of.

The Edinburgh Fringe app is powered by independent critics and returns recs based on acts the user has said she likes or dislikes. Recs come back with side-by-side reviews from critics. The “Soon and Nearby” function retrieves shows starting within the next two hours based on your location.

Interactive Map. Users can use the locator feature to find stages, food vendors, the nearest toilets, medical station, etc., and pin-dropping to help find their parking spot and/or campsite.

Maps can include one-click “now and next” listings based on the users location. Attendees also can use this function to share their location via Facebook, Twitter, SMS, email or group text.

Sponsors can use this function to drive traffic to their on-site displays and reward check- ins. Chevrolet, sponsor of SXSW, partnered with location app provider Gowalla to provide special offers to Gowalla users attending the 2010 event. For example, attendees who checked in on arriving at Austin’s airport got a message offering a free ride downtown.

Group texting. Lollapalooza’s texting function, built on GroupMe, let people use QR codes and private notes to meet new friends.

News & Social: Users can view the official news feed, the event Facebook page, Twitter and Foursquare accounts, etc.., and read Twitter updates from bands or other participants. The app should allow users to see what others are saying, post their own comments, photos, videos—using this section as a social aggregation portal. The app can allow users to put a custom event frame around their photos and upload those framed pictures to the festival's live photostream.

Live streaming. Apps can allow other fans to attend an event virtually, whether through official or attendee-sourced audio and video. For example, Slacker Radio is providing two streaming stations for Lollapalooza, one of the 2011 artists and the other 20 years of groups who have played the festival. The stations are integrated into the event’s app.

Games. Apps can allow fans to interact with the event through game play. The Kentucky Derby’s app lets users test their knowledge of Derby trivia, literally picture themselves in stylish Derby hats—and share the images via Facebook—as well as listen to and sing along to the state song, “My Old Kentucky Home.”

One function I haven’t seen, but certainly a natural is E-commerce, which could include opportunities to instantly buy music from a performing band, souvenir merchandise, and sponsor products and services. Both X Games and Kentucky Derby apps do let users buy tickets from within the app.

What’s your idea of the perfect event app?


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