Social media has become a part of almost every major meeting, conference and event.
At a minimum, event planners are using Twitter, Facebook, or sites such as LinkedIn, MeetUp and Google+, as virtual pre and post event gathering places for attendees, sponsors and even non-attendees who just want to be “in the know.”
We had the chance to speak with entrepreneur and consultant Tiffani Murray, who offers social media management and content development services to clients. She has recently launched a “live tweeting” service specifically aimed at fostering constant and consistent engagement with attendees on behalf of conference hosts and event planners. We sat down with Tiffani to learn more about the art of “live tweeting” and her thoughts on how social media is impacting the event management industry and audience experience. Our question to her:
Tiffani: “Technology like the EventPilot conference app is critical to the success of modern day conferences and events because the days of lugging around a thick program guide during a conference are almost gone. The app is more than just a digital version of your program. On the social media side, EventPilot has a great deal to offer like an integrated Twitter client, so attendees don’t have to leave the app to tweet. Your attendees help you extend the conversation about a topic by easily sharing a presentation slide via Twitter or sharing the session info on Facebook from within the app! You can also include your Facebook page, a LinkedIn group or YouTube channel and create a one-stop access point to all your social media outlets. EventPilot opens new opportunities to increase social media use at events.”
Top 7 tips from a social media pro
Tiffani shared her top 7 tips for event managers on how to use “live tweeting” and other social media best practices to engage audiences, market their event brands and promote sponsors.
1. Designate a Dedicated Social Media Resource
As a former event planner myself, I have seen a common issue with teams. Event team members wear multiple hats and it isn’t unusual to have a social media administrator also working registration, running errands, and missing keynotes due to other tasks. I recommend to leverage a “live tweet” resource whose only task for the entire duration of the event is to promote the activities, sessions, keynotes and engage with your audience in cyberspace. This person can’t be in all places at once, but he/she can provide a continuous snapshot of different people, post pictures and spark engagement that is a proven marketing tool that gets attendees to return.
2. Brand Your Event with a Hashtag
Every event should have an associated Twitter hashtag. There are plenty of examples out there. Make it easy to remember, short and associated to the name of the event, conference or host organization in some way. Use it consistently leading up to, during and after the event. One of the most common mistakes is to tweet during an event without the hashtag. You miss out on engagement and interaction with attendees in this way. EventPilot users are constantly aware of what is being said in the Twitter stream and the hashtag is automatically built-in.
3. Respond to Attendee Questions
Eliminate the need for attendees to have to walk to the registration desk to get the answers to simple questions. One of the benefits of Tip #1 is that you will always have someone monitoring the Twitter feed for questions or needs. While Twitter is the most active channel at conferences, a dedicated resource can effectively monitor all the channels throughout the event. If you use EventPilot to post an update or announcement, reinforce it by tweeting it and add to the level of customer service and consideration for attendees.
4. Engage the Audience
Having someone monitor the Twitter feed for questions or comments is another plus during keynotes and larger sessions. Not every attendee brave enough to go up to the microphone. If attendees are presented the option of tweeting a question for the keynote speaker or panel, audience interaction increases. This also works well for hybrid events that have a live and virtual audience watching simultaneously.
5. Recognize Twitter Rock Stars
At any given event there will be people who are tweeting more than others. Recognize them! They are part of your event marketing team, spreading the news about your event that will likely attract future attendees. Reward them with re-tweets (RTs) of their most relevant messages concerning the event or “shout outs” thanking them for their activity. Consider a prize or a discount on next year’s event registration for the attendee with the most tweets.
6. Expand Sponsor & Keynote Benefits
Sponsors and exhibitors who pay to be a part of huge conferences and events like to hear about any way that their brand, products or services are going to get exposure to the hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of attendees at your events. Include the Facebook and Twitter URL of your sponsors directly in the EventPilot app to foster connections. Having a dedicated live tweet resource you can also highlight major sponsors on the Twitter feed consistently and constantly throughout the entire event.
7. Market to Future Attendees on the Backchannel
The Twitter backchannel is the best place to market to future event attendees. People who are not at the conference steadily check out the tweets and follow the hashtag of conferences that spark their interest. Continuous social media activity throughout the event maximizes the opportunity to give virtual bystanders a look at what they’re missing and thus motivates them to attend the next year.
A week or a few days before your conference or event host a pre-event Twitter chat that allows attendees to discuss topics and network virtually. This also gets attendees in the habit of using the hashtag early on.