Even though social media has been around for 5+ years, it still hasn't quite found its place in most meetings and events. However, if it is used properly, many planners can take advantage of its digital power. Let's focus on ways to integrate social into your marketing strategy before and during the event cycle.
Here are 5 ways to make social happen at your next meeting:
Learn the channels.
If you have never taken the time to learn Instagram, Foursquare or LinkedIn, now is the time to become a user of these apps. Because they are free, you can easily download them onto your mobile device. If you are confused or need help, ask someone to walk you through the app or take a class for further clarification.
In order to garner enthusiasm about social media you need to be a user yourself. None of the apps are difficult, you just need to take the time to use them.
- Create a content calendar.
Recent research shows that social posts only reach 10-15% of your followers or connections, so it is important to post often on your channels. However, just like anything else in life, posting needs to be balanced because too much posting can seem like you have nothing better to do and too little will not be of any benefit to your event.
I recommend that you post to your social channels once a day leading up to the event and encourage attendees to post several times a day during the meeting. This can easily be accomplished if you rent iPads and pre-load the social apps onto them.
Creating and curating content for your event is essential for its success. Here are a few ideas of what to post:
- Link your speaker's articles to social
- Ask attendees or event staff to write blog posts and promote on the social channels
- During the event, post a lot of pictures and show them on the video wall rental unit
- Upload handouts to Slideshare
- Pose a Question of the Day on Facebook and give a prize for the most creative answer
- Interview sponsors
- Post speaker bios
- Provide interesting information about the venue
- Through a series of photos and videos, let attendees know more about the destination
- Poll attendees about a topic
- Post exhibitor videos
The main thing is to stick to the content calender and post quality content.
Create an event hashtag.
By having an event hashtag and requesting that all tweets end with that hashtag, you and your staff can easily monitor attendee comments, questions and complaints during the meeting. This hashtag can also serve as a vehicle for your speakers to know immediately what the audience is thinking. Make certain your event staff or volunteers monitor this hashtag on a very regular basis and respond immediately to questions or complaints. Transparency and quick response time is the key to effective use of a hashtag.
- Show and tell.
Here are very effective ways to drive the message home again and again to use social media at the event:
1. Display the hashtag on video walls, computer kiosks and digital signage
2. At the beginning of every session, ask attendees to tweet about it and include the hashtag
3. Ask attendees to check-in on Foursquare or Facebook
4. Video the keynote address and live stream it on the video wall with the hashtag on the bottom right corner
5. On attendee badges, put their Twitter handle.