Who’s here? Raise your hand if you plan meetings and events. How many of you feel like you are pretty savvy already when it comes to social media, you just struggle with getting it done while you are running a show?Raise your hand if you attend conferences and events. (Should be everyone.)Raise your hand if you attend events as an exhibitor or sponsor. Are you using social media before, during and after the event?This presentation will offer suggestions for the SOCIAL DIY-er. If you are planning a conference, I HIGHLY recommend that you hire someone like me to manage the online conversation during your event – but if you want to do it yourself – this is what I suggest. I can also help you with social technologies at your event – mobile apps, visual social like media walls, and strategies on how to encourage your attendees to be social so that they share your message as well.Tweet using the hashtag and my twitter handle and either ask questions throughout the presentation or follow up with me after.
Who is already using Instagram?Who is already using twitter?The power of the hashtag allows people to have a conversation, even if they are not yet connected! This is why twitter has always been the best tool for events. A community of people can come together around a common theme, problem, subject, etc. and all talk about it at the same time. You can find new people to follow based on your shared interest – in this case – an event. Twitter is still the best place to do that. Share what you are learning, share links to valuable information as you come across it or as you make connections to ideas.Instagram is the new power tool for events, though because on-site attendees want to document the visual representation of what’s happening. If you encourage this behavior by displaying tweets and Instagram photos throughout your event, attendees will share more and therefore promote your event or brand for you. By the way Instagram works with hashtags, too so as long as you tag your post with the hashtag (which should be the same for twitter and Instagram), then other people will be able to see your pictures and videos.You could also use vine for video, but why not use one tool for pictures and videos? Facebook has hashtag functionality now, too but it still places the individual’s privacy settings as priority when it comes to what can be seen by others – so basically, you’ll still only be able to see your friend’s posts, unless they operate their profiles in a public manner when posting at events.The old wisdom said to focus your efforts where your audience is and that is true for marketing the event. When it comes to on-site engagement, you have to use the tools that make it easiest for attendees to connect with each other and with your content.
This presentation will have three parts: before, during and after the event. So, let’s start with pre-event planning!Once you get on site, you will be too busy to come up with brilliance in 140 characters – so plan your content in advance! Consider this another task to complete on your pre-event checklist. Scheduling in advance will help you make sure that you are putting good content out there for your attendees without having to remember to do it on-site.If you are an attendee or exhibitor, you might want to find out if Wi-Fi will be provided (unless you are bringing your own) so that you can choose which device to take. Tweet the organizers to ask them, and see if you can also find out if meeting rooms will be set theatre style or with tables because if you have a tablet or laptop, it is easier to be social if you have a place to put it! I used to be faster tweeting with my laptop because it had the full keyboard – but my Android phone has a next word predictor keyboard so now I’m faster with my phone. (swift key) Think through what will work best for you throughout the conference and plan accordingly.We will also discuss working with partners to help you leverage your message without being too spammy on social media.
Start by listening to your attendees before the event starts if you have an active community. You should have already been using social media to promote the event and that is a whole different topic. If you have done a good job, then your attendees will start tweeting before the event starts.Engage them by interacting directly with them. Retweet them, reply to them, answer questions, ask questions. Start to measure who your influencers are and give them perks at the conference so they’ll keep posting about your event.Visualize your event and create a notification for every step your attendees take. When are they packing? Tweet about what they should pack. When are they arriving at the airport? Tweet about what they should look for. Where’s registration? Tweet about how to find it / what they will need. You get the picture. If you are using a mobile app for your conference, you will load in the same types of notifications in the app so that attendees get them on their phones at just the right time.Ask for feedback – early and often. When people give it to you, thank them! More on that later for how to handle it during the event.
Create as much content as you can – up to 10 posts per day during the event. 8 helpful tweets for every 2 promotional tweets (80/20). 80% value add means provide useful information for the other attendees and for the planner. Look through the published schedule and decide where you will be and when so you can create content to schedule in advance. Include all other events – networking, receptions, travel plans, etc.Look at the attendee list if you have access to it. Search for attendees on twitter – awesome if attendees are using a mobile app or some other matchmaking or profile system where people indicate their twitter handles and share that information with other attendees. You can follow people in advance who will be attending and send them a tweet saying you look forward to meeting them. Tweet at people you already know about how excited you are to see them at the conference.Stalk the hashtag to find other people who are going – or people who are talking about the conference. Maybe they will be virtual attendees and you can offer to help them experience the event from your perspective.If you have attended this conference before, write a blog post with helpful advice for other attendees. Get creative and don’t be afraid to share your expertise!
Be careful with shortcuts. You can post the same message to multiple outlets on HootSuite – but there are times when you don’t want to do that. For example, Facebook might not give your message as much reach when posted with a third party platform. You can schedule messages in advance within FB for business pages, but not for personal profiles. You might also have different audiences in different places as well. i.e. I created a group on FB for all of my industry friends so I’d have a place to post content that only they would appreciate – and I can schedule in advance for that FB group via hootsuite.Since we are focusing on twitter and Instagram when it comes to on-site engagement, HootSuite works well for scheduling posts in advance. If you have access to a more robust enterprise level marketing program like HubSpot, then by all means, take advantage of that! Most likely, you’ll be tweeting from your personal twitter account, though. If you are responsible for tweeting from your personal account as well as your organization’s account, then a program like HootSuite really comes in handy because you can schedule different messages for each. Don’t tweet the same thing from two different twitter accounts using the same hashtag because they will show up consecutively in the hashtag stream and makes it obvious that it is the same person running both accounts. At the very least, vary the messages slightly or use one account to retweet the other.This brings us to our next topic. Working with partners.
So, how do you get your message out there without promoting yourself? You have your friends help you! A large conference is the most captive audience you will ever get on twitter – so leverage that opportunity. This is an infographic of a program I put together for my friends last year at IMEX America. The team consisted of four companies, three speakers with sessions to promote and one media outlet – the MeetingsPodcast. I put together hundreds of tweets about what was going on – for our partners as well as for the conference and split it up so that we ended up with a schedule of tweets for each of us whereby we would each tweet about what was going on as well as promoting the others in the program. If you do schedule in HootSuite and have a premium account, you can also measure the analytics like how many people clicked on a particular link. If you use the same shortened link for all partners every time it is tweeted, it is easier to measure the performance of that link.
Here you are, running down the back corridor of the hotel. Can you tweet and walk at the same time? Do you have five minutes to yourself while you are standing in line at Starbucks in the morning? Think of times which are otherwise wasted and use that time to be social – spontaneously! Does anyone have any suggestions? Do you get a moment to catch up on email while attendees are in their sessions – depending on your role on the logistics team – and how comfortable you are letting your vendors do their jobs – you’ll have varying amounts of time. We are going to focus on using your mobile device, however because most people haven’t switched over to tablets for their entire conference bible content.
Use your mobile devices as much as possible! Set your notifications to alert you when someone tweets about you so that you can respond in a timely manner. If you are not using the twitter app or HootSuite app for this, you can set it to send you text messages with the same notifications. Setup saved searches so you can quickly jump to the hashtag without having to type it in. Review the conversation periodically if you are an attendee or exhibitor – religiously if you are the planner. Attendees will be giving you real-time feedback and they may not give you the courtesy of mentioning your official twitter handle when they do it – but they might use the hashtag. You could also create a list of attendees and review every now and then to see if they tweet about the conference and don’t use the hashtag or your handle. You should all know by now that you can’t just ignore the tweets from your attendees. You must be part of the conversation – whether you have time to deal with it or not! They expect it.Hopefully, you have moved from accepting that some of your attendees are social and figuring out how to engage with them to encouraging more attendees to be social and rewarding them for it because it benefits your organization.
You don’t have to be working on the Salesforce dreamforce conference to be at a place where a social media command center is appropriate. This can be as simple as tasking an intern with monitoring the conversations taking place at your event – but I wouldn’t put them in charge of interacting with attendees. The person you put in charge of this would need to know what kind of feedback requires action. If someone is complaining about lunch – during lunch – you can’t necessarily fix that – unless you want to try to do that. If someone is alerting you to AV problems in one of the break-out rooms, you might hear about it on twitter before you hear about if from your staff or vendors – so make sure the person who is monitoring social commentary knows what kinds of things need your immediate attention. Or ask them to alert you anytime someone says anything negative so that you can respond.The kinds of command centers shown above are as much about listening for feedback on the event, on their products as it is about gathering data about the conversations that took place during the event so the ROI of the event could be measured.The three critical steps are listening, engaging and measuring. If the scale of your event allows you to do all three successfully, then do it! If not, outsource appropriately.
The first part of the battle is just getting used to being social. Take pictures and post them right away. I take them with my phone’s camera and then open up Instagram to add a filter, improve the lighting, etc. From here, I can post to Instagram, twitter and Facebook at the same time. Instagram uses hashtags the same way twitter does – and FB uses them too so make sure you add a caption including the hashtag and share it! Share your behind-the-scenes pictures and videos. People like to “peek behind the curtain”.Tweets are good for content. Share what you are learning. Give a shout-out to someone you just met or an old friend. Add your opinion to the content being delivered. Facebook isn’t the best platform to use if you want other people to see your content – unless they are your friends on Facebook already. However, if you do want to share what you are learning (or pictures) with your FB friends who are not at the event, then by all means, post on Facebook!
You are probably in a fog after an event. Lots of stuff to wrap-up, catch-up from being out of the office – you have to get back to “work”! If you are flying home and have access to wi-fi, then you can use that time to connect with people online. If not, then use that time to blog about the event. If you don’t have that time, then make time to do it.
Give your content legs. Post video, audio, commentary, storify or other archives of content from speakers, attendees, exhibitors. If you are an attendee or exhibitor, blog about your experience so that you can share something of value.Content in any form should be shared and re-purposed.
A simple version of the analytics you want to capture and measure include total number of tweets / photos. Number of tweeters / instagrammers. Potential reach of those messages times the number of followers those people have. Examine your influencers. Who tweeted the most isn’t necessarily the most important list to consider. How about who got re-tweeted the most or who was mentioned the most?
How to be social at an event
ELIZABETH GLAU, CMP