This post was written by Gwynydd Murray, Client Care Specialist with Greenfield Services
About a year ago I took great interest in The June/July 2012 edition of CSAE’s Association Magazine (http://www.csae.com/Resources/Magazine.aspx), which discusses at length how to optimize the use of a number of social media channels for events. Everything from LinkedIn and Facebook to SlideShare and YouTube will help organizations disseminate key messages to a plethora of followers and potential attendees. The Feature Article, The Role of Social Media at your Next Conference outlines perfectly how “The proliferation of social media has made it possible for us to capture meaningful information and respond to it – in real-time.” (page 28). Nothing is better in real-time than Twitter.
In my previous blogs, I’ve already explained the importance of Preparation and Tools. When thinking about Twitter for events, there is nothing more important than Engagement. The great thing about Social Media is the back and forth between originator and audience. The message does not exist in a vacuum, but is expected to foster conversation and encourage sharing of the message outside its original sphere.
When considering using Twitter for events, the first thing to remember is it is not solely for the day-of, on-site reporting. You need to draw in potential attendees’ right from the beginning. The event ads, program, website and emails should all publicize the Twitter @handle and #hashtag. You can then reach out to potential attendees and engage those who have already registered.
Tweeting before an event is not only about advertising. Content about speakers, schedules, exhibitors, accommodations, and deadlines is important to keep people informed. Keeping up a conversation will get them interested. Ask questions about what people are looking forward to and encourage them to ask questions themselves. Do not forget to keep up with those posts, and always respond to those who have taken the time to reach out to you.
While at the event, talk to and take photos of exhibitors, attendees, and presenters to get “nuggets” to post. Explain what you’re doing and encourage them to do the same. Even if someone does not use Twitter, gauge their interest and encourage them to look into it. Recently, we planned Caesars Windsor’s Meeting Planner Symposium, and our friend and colleague @JeniseFryatt joined us as a virtual panelist for social media. Jenise suggested having a “social media concierge” booth for newcomers to social media, and the concierge’s purpose would be to walk them through the set up and how to search for specific hashtags to tweet and re-tweet what is happening. What better way to engage them in the social media process than in person and on-site? It was a GREAT idea, and well supported by the other panelists and the audience of meeting & event planners, and association executives! Talking to visitors ensures better engagement next time. Draw people to an interesting booth or Tweet a speaker’s line that made you LOL.
Again, constantly check for re-Tweets and mentions, to keep the conversation going and let people know it was not a one-way medium. Even from off-site, the right Tweets can make you feel like you’re there.
Finally, remember the Twitter feed exists after the event. It’s a great way to measure people’s opinion after the fact. How did they like the sessions? Who were their favourite speakers? How many people got to the early morning breakfast? This will not only keep people engaged, but ensure future great events. Think of it as an instant survey.
The adage of quality over quantity could not be truer for Twitter. It’s not about a 140 character “info dump”, but having a conversation. It’s not only about making information accessible on the day of, but engaging with people who want to participate long after the booths are down.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net