I’ve been attending lots of industry events in recent weeks – social media, content marketing, technology, and even a rugby dinner – and here’s the thing. It’s 2015 and still STILL event organizers and speakers aren’t appreciating the power of social media at events. We’ve got to change that.
I’ll give you one example of how this stuff can make a massive impact from a project I was involved with before I left Microsoft last October. We ran an enterprise event in Singapore and 200 high level executives were in attendance. Prior to the event, we defined a content marketing and social media strategy aligned to the event agenda, and throughout the event week, we pushed out content and live-tweeted during the sessions. We also asked the speakers to get on board.
The impact? We took the event influence beyond the 200 people sitting in the room, to potentially influencing 2.5 million people around the globe. That’s what it can do.
In the picture above, you’ll see Tiffani Bova from Gartner. Not only do I love working with Tiffani, but she gets her role on social media as a speaker. Famous for her selfies from the stage, Tiffani Bova was a guest speaker at the Microsoft event and her social support was phenomenal. But it’s more powerful than that. How she interacts on Twitter has two benefits – it elevates what she’s doing to her community, but it also elevates the brands she is working with. Considering she has 25,000+ loyal followers (which include business decision makers who take her advice seriously), she’s a very valuable speaker to have on your team. All speakers need to think like Tiffani.
So please, I don’t want to have to ask another event organizer what the hashtag is upon arrival. I want it to be up in lights from the second I arrive, and preferably, I want it before. I am engaged on social media, I want to elevate what you’re doing, and I know other socially savvy people do as well. Make it easy for us. Hootsuite did it this week at it’s first Singapore HootUp #instaHootupSG – they get it!
- Event hashtag everywhere – put it on the banners, delegate badges, and on every slide presented (it can be small and subtle, just make sure it’s read-able from the back of the room). Keep the hashtag simple and if you don’t want to put it on every slide, put it on the break slides and have a stand-up banner at the front with the hashtag. People need to be reminded of it all day
- Speaker handles – ask your speakers to include their Twitter handle on every slide in their deck. Again it can be small and subtle, but if your speakers want their presentation amplified, if they want publicity, if they want the ability to grow their social presence, this is a minimum requirement. So speakers, if you’re not on Twitter, get on it. (If you’re after a younger audience, Instagram is also relevant, as are others.) But Twitter is where the moments happen, so if you’re on the speaking circuit in whatever form, you’ve got to be on Twitter. No excuses
- But give back – as a speaker, you have to give, because it’s not all about you. If you have a high profile, the brand benefits from your interaction, and that means you’ll be invited back. Also when people Tweet something you’ve said (especially if they’re nice), say thanks, retweet and favorite what they’ve done for you. Your audience is giving something to you – they are elevating your brand – have the courtesy to show your appreciation in return. You’ve got a part to play and I encourage you to embrace it
- Create social buzz – all throughout the event, from event introduction to the end, encourage people to participate on social media. Mention the event hashtag, run competitions for best Tweet, Tweet pic, or Instagram post, but the most important thing is to brief the emcee to create energy behind social media participation from the stage – all day. Your audience wants to participate, they really do, encourage the hell out of it
- Socialise the social – if you really want people on board, have a live Tweet (or Instagram) board in the room – a big one. It doesn’t distract from what’s happening and you know what, people love seeing their name up in lights
- Live-Tweet – someone from your organisation needs to be live-tweeting from the event – capturing the moments and sharing it with the world from a brand handle. A tip, if you get the majority of content before the event (and I know this isn’t always possible) you can create Tweets in advance, and then live-tweet additional moments on the go. This is a great tip for highly regulated industries where Tweets need to be approved first. Whoever owns this handle needs to retweet and favorite Tweets from attendees
- Content, content, content – define a content strategy aligned to your agenda and plan it well. Find world class content your business is creating and share it when the topic is covered on stage. This provides a knowledge resource for attendees – they can go back to it after the event, and it’s easy to find because they only have to search for the hashtag. If you have guest speakers, find 2-3 pieces of awesome content they’ve created (such as blogs) and live-tweet that as well. It gives them more exposure and publicity. They’ll appreciate you for that
- You will spend anything from $100K to a million or more dollars running an event. Take that investment beyond the room and magnify your influence to the millions of people on social media in your region. Brands who get this are killing it
- You’re delivering a higher profile opportunity for speakers and this is great when you’re trying to attract sponsors. If you run a sponsored event series, capture the data from social media and make it a strong part of your selling proposition for future events
- You will build your organizations brand and credibility as experts in whatever field you are in
- Great speakers will want to be at your event because it gives them greater exposure
- You can demonstrate a really different level of ROI to your bosses. The numbers are huge and it makes getting budget for next year easier
- You connect your audience. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met at events because we’ve all been live-tweeting and that drives us to make human connections afterwards. You can’t put a price on that
Finally, don’t stop there. Once you do a consolidated social media and content strategy around any event – be it topic or audience based – keep going and build a long term program. You’ve got the foundation, don’t let it slide.
If you want more ideas, I found this great piece in Social Media Examiner this week – 4 Ways to Promote Your Event With Social Media. It takes what I said above and adds a layer of brilliance.
Another great post this week, following CMWorld 2015 in the US, is this one – How Not to Stress Out Managing Social Media at In-Person Events Like #CMWorld. With 3,500 attendees and 50,000 tweets, that’s a lot of work for one person! Bravo Monina Wagner. The FAQ idea is perfect, especially for a big event.
Please take this seriously. We’re in a new world and social media is one of your greatest opportunities, especially during events. Need to convince your bosses? Show them this. Need to get your speakers supporting you and elevating your event? Show them this as well. We’re all part of an event now, but you must make sure your colleagues and all of the speakers are on board.
What do you reckon? Do you agree? Something I’ve missed?
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