The Power of Social Media for Events
We are very lucky to work in events. For loads of reasons. Sometimes it may be the free food and wine tasting. Or the ‘room upgrade’ that you get EVEN without asking (once your hand over your business card of course) Or maybe it’s the last minute call to fill a corporate space at a sporting final or music festival. We do have a good life. So it’s with this background that we should be thanking our lucky stars that someone went and made EVERYTHING EVEN better for us and invented Social Media. But this Blog questions if we guilty of looking this particular gift horse in the mouth? Are we doing enough with it to add value to everyone who is involved in our events? Especially within our learning events, do we really know how to use social media at a conference?
How to use social media at a conference
We have to take full advantage of Social Media. And all we have to do are two things. We have to REALISE THE POTENTIAL and more importunity we have to USE THAT POTENTIAL!
The perfect marriage
In one flick of a switch Social Media allowed us to do several things that had always been a big challenge for organisers. Almost overnight our life was made so much easier. Now I am sure you will recognise all of these concerns. These things really used to keep us up at night:
1. How do we find people who would be interested in our event but who are not on our aged and badly managed email database?
2. How do we find and follow what our competition is up to?
3. How do we enable attendees to talk about our event? How can they big it up for us?
4. How can we get our event out to more people so they can see how good it is?
5. How can we add more value to our sponsors and our exhibitors?
6. How do we create an effective way to properly engage people so we can hear what they think at our event?
Owing to social media we don’t need to worry about these anymore! Using social media to do all these things gives us more time to think about the 100 things we do have to worry about!
Social media of course is not the answer to everything but as I’ve listed above it really does help us in areas where we really used to struggle. But if that’s true let’s not rest on our laurels. Let’s make sure we wring the sponge dry and get as much out of social media as we can. We must be experts on how to use social media at a conference and an exhibition we must do everything we can to increase the value for all of our stakeholders. Let’s make our great life a wee bit easier by using social media to its full power.
At the Event Innovation Summit in Barcelona in October a charming Spanish Gentleman and I got speaking about hashtags. As you do! He said he had seen the Event Innovation Summit hashtag being used and advertised but wasn’t sure exactly why the organisers and everyone else would use it. I very briefly said they are great and I have been going on about hashtags for a while!
We then started talking about EIBTM. He said “how can I get the most from the #eibtm? I said that would depend form what perspective he looked from. Was he talking as:
- an attendee
- an exhibitors
- a speakers or
- the organiser
Using EIBTM as an example he wanted to understand exactly how a hashtag if used properly could add value to his next event. I said I would drop him a note. And here it is in Blog format. I’ve looked at how each stakeholder could use the event hashtag to best effect.
How to get the most out of the #eibtm (or any event) hashtag
Now I am using the #eibtm hashtag as a live example but the outline really could be relevant for ANY event hashtag.
And I will look at how each stakeholder can use the hashtag to get more value from the event. With one week to go to EIBTM I would love to see an increased awareness of how useful the tag could and should be. So please feel free to forward on the Blog.
So first up and most importantly: how attendees should make the most of an event #tag
1.Use it to keep up to date. As we build up to the event the hashtag is a great way to find out more about the event in an easy, hassle free way. At a large event there is a lot going on. If you want to stay on top of what’s happening simply FOLLOW THE HASHTAG. Following the #tag is easy. Just type it into the search function in Twitter and save the search.
2. Use it to help you network. Most of the people and organisations using the hashtag in the run up to the event will be attending. You can use the #tag to help make the most of your time at the conference.
– Is there anyone who is ‘talking your language?’
– Is someone they tweeting about the areas that you want to know about?
If so why not contact them and ask to meet up? The hashtag is a great way to open up communication with people outside of your network who have similar interests.
3. Use it to help you decide what to do at the show. You have a whole host of choices at a show the size of EIBTM. It is impossible to go to every stand or to see every speaker. So use the hashtag to help you make those decisions. If you aren’t sure about a session why not see if that speaker has tweeted using the hashtag? (in the speaker section below I will cover what they should be tweeting about) If they have tweeted I would say he/she is more likely to have put more effort into their engagement and involvement with the show. The same goes for exhibitors. As an attendee I will be using the hashtag as a pointer to the sessions I should attend and the stands I should visit.
How speakers should make the most of an event #tag
1. Use it to provide more learning. It is unlikely that any speaker is really able to get everything over to those gathered to listen to her during their short session. So use the hashtag as a way to point to extra content. It’s a great way to get people to do a bit of prep before they attend your session – perhaps a blog on the issue you are covering or other content related to the session.
2. Use the hashtag to engage with your audience. Jump on the hashtag and use it to check and tailor the content you are covering. Ask your potential audience. After your session use it to see if you missed anything out of your session as well as highlighting more content related to your session.
3. Use it to promote your session. You want the right people at your session so use the hashtag to tell people who that is and why they should attend your session.
How exhibitors should make the most of an event #tag
1. Generate leads. Follow people who use the hashtag. Retweet their great content. Start engaging with attendees before the event. Try to make sure that the people who arrive on your stand already know who you are and more importantly that you have taken the time to know who they are.
2. Shorten your sales pipeline. Use the hashtag to see who is attending the event. You won’t have a complete list from the organisers so use the hashtag to find out. Find out a bit more about their business via their Twitter profile. Contact them if they are relevant, if you think you can really help them. With this proactive approach you could have them arrive on your stand to discuss the proposal you’ve already worked on.
3. Don’t just highlight that you are taking a stand but highlight why people should seek you out. Upload links to content using the hashtag. Demonstrate that you understand your clients business by commenting and retweeting.
Use it to prove that you are committed to your customers and serious about doing business at the show.
How organisers should make the most of an event #tag
This is the simple part. As organisers we can add so much value to our events if we lead on use of the hashtag. This link explains how organisers can best use the hashtag in detail.
But in general all we have to do is promote the benefits (like I’ve listed above) to our stakeholders. When people use our hashtag there is so much in it for us so we have to put that bit more into it. We have to educate and inform. And most importantly we have to lead and demonstrate that we really know what not only we are talking about but what our attendees, exhibitors and speakers want to talk about.