Conferences and events are more than just an entertaining gathering. Nowadays, events are more social than ever: attendees share live updates with followers around the world. Social media takes an event to the next level by inviting absent guests into the party from wherever they are. To pull off a successful social media presence for an event or conference, use these 4 important guidelines:
Establish a Hashtag
Creating and establishing a consistent hashtag that is both simple and instinctual will elevate your event leading up to it, during it and after all is said and done. It’s the easiest way to collect attendee-generated content, monitor thoughts throughout, and engage with speakers, sponsors and attendees. Be sure to monitor hashtag activity for engagement opportunities, and pay special attention to inquiries and shareable content.
Our simple rules for choosing a hashtag:
- Make sure no activity (or very, very little) has been previously posted with the hashtag (keep a special eye out for any inappropriate content).
- Include the conference or brand name.
- Keep it short, simple and related to the event.
- Try adding the year to differentiate between an already established hashtag.
For the HSMAI MEET National Conference, we chose #HSMAIMEET as the official hashtag for its simplicity and similarity to the @HSMAIMEET handle. The hashtag has established engagement from the previous year’s event, so consistency and familiarity with the audience was a large factor in the decision.
Engage with Influential Attendees
As registrations are submitted, sort through the entries to note which attendees may have influence in the industry. Reaching out to these influential attendees throughout the event will not only increase awareness of your event, but it will also encourage the attendee to share their experience and encourage others to register.
To choose possible influential attendees for #HSMAIMEET, we set certain standards for attendees including: number of LinkedIn connections, number of Twitter followers, positions of power in industry organizations or associations, and users who are likely to or regularly post industry-related content.
Engaging with these influential attendees is easy. Follow their profiles and engage regularly with their industry-related content. This can mean posting thoughtful replies to their posts or simply sharing their original content that is relevant to your industry. A thoughtful (and delightful) way to reach out is to welcome them to the event, like so:
Post Before, During and After the Event
Before your event, build excitement! Share links to register, tease information about speakers, sessions and activities, and post relevant travel information including nearby hotels and area attractions. It is often a good idea to begin engaging with influential attendees and sponsors prior to the event.
During the event, attendees will benefit from content such as session reminders, last-minute schedule changes, event tips and tricks, and live-action posts from the sessions themselves. Share session and speaker quotes and live images or videos. This is also an opportune time to interact with attendees and have a bit of fun!
After the event, recap sessions and the event as a whole, highlight speakers and sponsors and post plenty of images. Encourage others to share their content with the goal of convincing absent users to attend next event. Reminder: Always use the established event hashtag.
Encourage Attendees and Sponsors to Share
There’s no better salesperson than the live-sharer. Encourage attendees, sponsors and speakers to share by adding the event hashtag and account handles to programs, presentations and signage throughout the venue.
Hosting an interactive social media activation is an excellent way to educate and encourage attendees on social’s best practices. At #HSMAIMEET, Sparkloft will run an onsite “help desk” where attendees can ask social media experts for social tutorials. These experts will provide hands-on platform training and Q&A in addition to strategic advice and industry insight. With social mavericks at the ready, your attendees will have no excuse not to share a tweet or two.
Incorporating social media into your event planning from the get-go will ensure you’re fully prepared when the time comes to engage with potential and confirmed attendees. Following these four rules will have you on your way to a successful social media-enhanced event in no time. Just don’t forget to #HashtagIt and share, share, engage, share!