How to rock your second screen roll out


By Victor Paan

Mobile devices are a part of your attendees’ everyday routines, whether at home, on the job, or on a show site—so why not tap into this behavior by transforming the mobile device into a part of the overall event experience? Mobile devices can help amplify engagement, while working behind the scenes to gather immense data on audience preferences, speaker and content performance and more.

Second screen is still a fairly new technology, but through our experience utilizing it with Freeman clients, we have collected enough data to share some of our secrets and best practices for deploying second screen technology at events. While every event is different and every audience has its preferences, these best practices can be universally applied.

Use web-based platforms

While second screen solutions come in various platform options, our experience has shown that web-based solutions have significantly higher participation rates (70 to 90 per cent) than native apps (less than 50 per cent).

Because of the long-term value of an engaged audience, we encourage use of a web-based solution whenever Wi-Fi is available. This keeps solutions compatible with all mobile devices and allows you to deliver your second screen experience through your event app via a web link. This way, attendees never have to leave your event app.

Keep it simple

Use a link shortener to create a simple URL for attendees to use to access the second screen platform. Once you have them on the platform, use easy engagement techniques to gather attendee responses, especially early in the session while they grow accustomed to the second screen experience. Thumbs up/thumbs down, multiple choice or like/dislike choices have a higher use rate than text responses.

Keep engagement constant

Did you know that your audience’s attention span drops significantly after just 10 minutes? Ten minutes! This is based on research from Dr. John J. Medina, a biologist and researcher with particular interest in how the brain works with information, and has been confirmed by our own data. By inserting audience response questions at this regular interval, you can regain their attention each time it dips.

Build a community

Don’t keep your audience’s answers to yourself. We’ve found that audiences are interested in comparing their answers to those of their peers. This is especially true when using polling questions. Share the results directly to the main feed so the entire audience can see it, and even consider publishing certain audience feedback in post-event communications to help drive home important takeaways.

Make it fun

Nothing fires up an audience more than friendly competition, which is why you can raise engagement levels by incorporating competitive aspects into audience responses. Reward those who are first to answer with recognition or even a prize.

We saw this come to life at a recent gaming conference in the U.S., in which a second screen platform was used to spark good-natured competition during a game show-like quiz session. Throughout the course of the presentation, the audience was asked specific, multiple-choice training questions “disguised” as a quiz show that they could participate in through the use of their personal devices. Participation was very high. Over the course of the 12 presentations, an average of 84 per cent of audience members who logged into the second screen platform submitted at least one answer.

The participation and excitement generated by the quiz shows even carried over to the second screen’s group chat. Throughout each presentation, audience members shared encouragement, congratulations, and even a little good-natured “trash talk.”

Amplify your reach

Enable attendees to share presentation content with their social networks by setting up hashtags for your presentations and embedding social sharing into the platform. If the presentation slides can be shared on social media, that’s even better. Visual content is much more engaging on social media—for example, tweets featuring photo URLs average a 35 per cent increase in retweets, according to Twitter.

Use a content DJ

We recommend using a “content DJ” to field questions and monitor the chat stream for large audiences, such as keynote presentations or panel discussions, or for presenters who are not used to a fully interactive session. The moderator can juggle multiple conversations at once, feed appropriate questions to the presenter and observe when a particular idea sparks high levels of interest.

A content DJ can take the burden off presenters who feel overwhelmed by the second screen technology, expertly moderating the conversation and allowing the speakers to do what they do best: share their knowledge.

Employ measurement science

When you use polling questions to gather data, keep in mind that sharing the results of a polling question too early may cause audience members to change their answers. Give the audience enough time to select their responses before displaying the results to the entire audience.

Furthermore, make sure you are asking audience members for feedback and ratings throughout the presentation. The immediacy of the response will provide the most pure results possible. By contrast, the data collected from post-event surveys can lose its nuance as time elapses between the presentation and the feedback collection.

Insider secrets

Are you ready to get started with second screen? We’ll share a few final tips that will net you the most rich engagement data. Although it’s more difficult to get text input responses, they tend to provide the highest value. Save text responses only for when you want very specific, personalized feedback, and take care to ask open-ended questions that need to be answered with more than just a yes or no. Moreover, allowing attendees to remain anonymous within the second screen platform yield far more open and honest answers.

About the author

Victor Paan is Digital Services Product Manager at Freeman Audio Visual Canada, an experiential marketing company that uses the power of technology to make meaningful connections with a multitude of audiences through the production of meetings, conventions, special events and trade shows. Data reported above from FXP | touch, Freeman’s proprietary second screen platform, was collected by Klowd, Freeman’s audience engagement technology agency, between 2012 and 2015. For more information, visit

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