Areas of Interest (AOIs) indicate certain topics an attendee may want to learn more about during an event. They personalize the attendee's experience and link them to recommended sessions, sponsors, speakers, attendees, and posters. AOIs ensure attendees see the content and connections most relevant to them.
How Many AOIs are Ideal?
Social27 recommends adding 9 AOIs to your event. This recommendation is based on research related to the assessment of qualitative metrics. Researchers have found that when assessing qualitative responses that do not scale, using 7 – 12 options is optimal and using 9 is ideal.
There's a lot packed into that explanation, so let's break some of the key terms:
- Qualitative Responses: A qualitative question and its resulting responses arise from feelings and opinions rather than mathematics (i.e., quantitative responses). So, when you ask an attendee to select their areas of interest, you are asking them, what topics, in their opinion, they are most interested in.
- Scaled Response: A scaled question allows a user to select, for example, the cleanliness of a bathroom on a scale from one to ten. When attendees are selecting AOIs in your event, they are simply saying whether or not they are interested in a topic, not how interested they are in that topic (on a scale from one to ten).
Now the recommendation itself is clear, but why is that the recommendation?
Less than 9 AOIs
Imagine your event has two attendees who have different interests: Topic A and Topic B, and you have fewer than 6 AOIs in your event. With so few AOIs, there’s a large chance that either (1) you've missed some important possible AOIs, or (2) one of the options should really be broken into two distinct AOIs. Attendee A and Attendee B may select the same AOI and be grouped together, but they really shouldn’t be. The solution is to add more options to separate Topic A from Topic B.
More than 9 AOIs
Now say you have an event with 15 AOIs, and Attendee A and Attendee B have similar interests. However, because there are so many options to choose from, Attendee A and Attendee B are more likely to choose different AOIs and be grouped separately. The solution is to use fewer options to Attendee A and Attendee B or collect so much activity that you realize Topic A and Topic B are more alike than not. (In other words, the more inputs you have, the more activity you need to see relationships.)
Take this real-world example: you go to a party and are asked to figure out which of your fellow party-goers have the most in common and group them into pairs. You can do that in a few hours with a party of 7 – 12 people. However, at a party with 30 people, you would need to see A LOT more activity and gather A LOT more data to accomplish your pairing-off task. At the other end of the spectrum, if there were only 4 people at the party, there’s a good chance you wouldn't find anything in common among them, and wouldn't be able to claim that any pair is better than another. (You can explore the finer points of this NP Complexity here.)
All this bring us back to our original recommendation: When assessing non-scaled, qualitative responses, 7-12 options is optimal, with 9 being ideal. Nine AOIs allow Social27's Recommendation Engine to distinguish differences, but not too many that massive amounts of data are required to analyze the differences.
How Many AOIs Should I Allow Users to Select?
The number of allowed AOI selections isn't as important as the number of AOIs available to chose from. However, human behavior generally tends toward making 2 to 5 selections, so we typically recommend allowing users to select up to 5 AOIs.