Why So Many People Are Glued to Their Phones at Live Events (And Why That's Good!)

While maybe even a decade ago the majority of attendees at live events may not have actively used their phones all throughout an event, these days that reality is here to stay.  While some artists will ask for phones to be put away or some venues will demand (sometimes politely) that no recording devices be used during an event, many attendees not only expect to be able to use their phone to take pictures and record videos, but also to interact on social media, sometimes with the venue itself.  That gives brands who want to reach these attendees many opportunities to win in multiple ways.

Phone Usage Outside of Live Events


Did you know that 87% of consumers use a smartphone when watching television?  They aren’t just browsing because they are bored (though, sometimes shows are pretty bad).  Often they are interacting on social networks discussing the show or might be looking up more information about the show itself or matters it discusses.


While it’s no surprise that boring meetings or presentations will send most people to their phones for something more interesting, it’s also not surprising that interesting meetings or presentations can lead to the same action.  Except, instead of surfing Facebook, engaged participants might be:

  • Taking notes
  • Digging deeper (poking around on the web to follow up on points)
  • Sharing ideas/quotes on social media

Daily Life

Including TV and meetings, how often are people on their smartphones, on average, each day?  One study showed 46% of respondents spending five to six hours a day on their smartphones outside of work-related matters.  22% spent three to four hours, and the serious users at seven hours or more a day were 11% of respondents.  That means 79% of all respondents spent at least three non-work hours a day on their phones.

Making the Most of Phone Usage at Live Events

So keeping in mind that people use their phones when they're bored AND when they're not bored, and given that people will be one of the two at your live event (hopefully not bored), you want to use the opportunity to move them from distraction and boredom to engagement and fun.  


There are five different ways you can engage with fans.

Ask Questions

You have a goldmine of data at your fingertips at a live event.  If you ask questions in a smart way or offer free wi-fi in exchange for user information, you’re going to get real-time data about your attendees.  

Give Information

Many people have not been to your venue before or may not be that familiar with the event in general (people bring friends!).  Take the opportunity to educate them about where to go, what to do, and what they need to know.

Offer Games

People love to participate in games.  You can let people collect certain badges or compete in a real-time contest.

Offer Prizes

Even more than playing games, people love winning prizes.  While those prizes can be limited to a few people, there’s nothing to stop you from adding additional prizes that get people out of their seats and patronizing different parts of the venue you want to highlight (or want to sell things out of).

Let Them Share

Lean into the social networks by having a hashtag that people can mention.  But more important than that is monitoring and interacting with users both during and after the event.  You show you are really “listening” and people appreciate the attention.  One report noted that 45% of all fans shared a video, photo, or update from an event during the event.  Among Generation Z that number jumped to 79%.


Phones are a part of our lives in a way that very few personal items are.  Use that to your advantage to add on layers of experience to a live event!


Do you need help engaging your audience at a live event?  Tell us more.