Firstly, there are many good primers on Social Media so start reading! The Govt recently launched Digital Business a site that includes an overview on Social Media as well as other key online elements.
There are also lots of videos out there regarding how Social Media has finally hit the mainstream – for something Australian based you can view the Social Media – SMB video by Optus regarding the uptake of Social Media by small/medium size businesses in Australia.
Ok, now on to Social Media and Events…
By including Social Media you will:
- gain real-time market research regarding your event
- gain another channel for communicating about your event
- find speakers, exhibitors, acts for your event
- produce a relevant, dynamic and vibrant event
- build long-term relationships with speakers and attendees
- Ultimately produce a better event! because you are in real-time conversations with the people that matter most- the attendees.
It is always good to break the event up into the following elements: -pre-event, event and post-event. This helps you to chunk out the three key timeframes:
- Your specially created Facebook page can be a great source of information about your attendee’s interest.
- Be sure to host discussions to find out what topics they are most interested in, the Poll application is also a simple way to garner information
- Create an Event within Facebook so that people can RSVP and share the information with their friends
- Give people a reason to talk about your event!
- LinkedIn is also another valuable online platform where you can set up a group to discuss the event itself.
- Utilise Social Media platforms to create event related competitions
- Don’t forget YouTube, you can set up your YouTube channel and interview a few of your key speakers to get attendees interested
- Be sure to create a special Twitter hashtag for the event that people can use to follow the latest information. So if your event was the Fun Park Annual event it could be #funpark2011. Don’t forget to include the hashtag on all your event information such as flyers, website, email signatures etc…
- Mention the hashtag each morning of the event to remind the attendees that day
- Hold a Tweetup for those that are participating actively in the event, this could be at a lunchtime or break time – don’t forget to reward them for their effort (free lunch or drinks wouldn’t hurt!)
- Incorporate the Tweet stream into the backdrop of a screen at the event for real-time comments and questions.
- If holding a panel session at a conference encourage people to tweet some questions beforehand so you can incorporate these.
- Hold discussions on your Facebook page about the proceedings of the day, choose a hot topic and take the discussions offline for further conversation.
- While at the conference remember to take photos and videos, vox-pops – remember content is the currency! so ensure you are taking every opportunity to create interesting and relevant content.
- Do you have a blog? live-blogging can be incorporated into the event and helps inform those that cannot be there on the day.
- Upload your photos (do you have a Flckr account?), upload your videos, upload any additional blog content (ideally this is done daily or post event).
- Encourage your attendees to upload their comments, videos and photos too – user generated content is vital to keep your content fresh and engaging.
- Keep chatting on your Facebook page – create a poll, ask questions, what can you improve for next time? remember Social Media is not just about getting your information out there but about improving! whether that is an event, service or an individual product.
- If you are running an annual event Social Media is ideal to stay in touch with those speakers and attendees all year long.
These are just a few very simple things you can do to ensure your event stays relevant and fresh.
Remember! Social Media is simply one tool in your online communication toolset it should be integrated into a strategic plan, measured regularly and refined.
Jenni Beattie is the director of Digital Democracy a Sydney based digital communications company.
Jenni is a senior communications strategist who has worked across advertising, public relations, market research and media. She has worked for companies such as News Ltd, CARMA International, McCann Erickson Advertising, Media Monitors, The Digital Edge and Network PR. Her recent clients include PEDIGREE, Tourabout, MLA, CelebrityThread and others.