Do you work in the Meetings or Conferences department of your association?
Social media and conferences, just like chocolate and peanut butter are better together. When it comes to engaging conference participants before, during, and after, a face-to-face event, social media is a remarkably effective tool. It gives your participants another chance to share their delight in the experience you’ve created, connect with colleagues, make new friends and learn and grow as professionals. Social media can make your job more rewarding too, especially when you build a deep connection between the conference experience and the online social experience. It’s something that your social-media-savvy participants are starving for. And no one can do it as well or as meaningfully as you can.
Every time you create a remarkable and memorable experience for your participants, you add fuel to the social media fire that is essential for keeping your association strong. The key is to collaborate with your colleagues to draw your participants into the online community that thrives all year round in your association. You’ll be a Social CRM Hero by sparking the engagement that leads to a deeper understanding of members, and your social media skills will be important for your career and your success. Given all of that, what can the conferences team actually DO with social? What can YOU do to help your association get the most out of social? Everybody says you should be using social, but nobody tell you how. This is how.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE FULL “BE A SOCIAL CRM HERO” SERIES HERE. These are short, checklist-style handy guides that take you step-by-step through the steps to rock your social media activities for your particular department.
Here’s a taster from the Conferences guide.
1. Share conference information early and often to build buzz and capture leads. Gone are the days of waiting for the formal press release before sharing information about keynoters. And forget about waiting for the conference brochure before sharing program details, or hiding your registration list altogether. You have information people want. Use it wisely and use it early. For example: add registrants to a new group on your private community. Give your Facebook, Twitter and Linked admins key information to post – like early bird deadlines, keynote speaker announcements, and special reg discounts. Set up the conference hashtag early and promote it often.
2. Get involved in the work of monitoring and responding on the social web. Your organization might have a communications team or a PR agency monitoring for mentions of the association. That kind of monitoring is great, but you can take things a step further when conference time rolls around. Be sure to coordinate with the communications team to make sure you’re not duplicating efforts and that everyone is staying on message. Are you finding and following presenters and industry thought leaders? Are your outpost admins clear on who to send questions to about the conference for speedy responses? Have you set up Google Alerts for your conference and your competitor conferences, to see what they are up to and maybe borrow some creative ideas?
3. Build social media into the on-site experience. The ultimate success for association social media is when a digital conversation transforms into a real-life relationship. A few thoughtful innovations in the way you design your event can ensure that all the work your organization puts in to social media actually pays off for everyone on-site and afterwards. Some examples: creating a social media guide for conference participants; making sure all slide templates have hashtag information and speakers’ Twitter handles; including Twitter handles on attendee nametags…
4. Capture and share the on-site experience. Give on-site participants something special to share with those who could not attend–something that will make everyone want to attend next year. Capturing the content and using it to gather leads will also give your marketing department more to work with when it comes time to promote the conference next year. Are you thinking about… Livestreaming a keynote (and showcasing the Twitter activity around it)? The posting of photos to Flickr, videos to YouTube and slides to Slideshare? Inviting guest bloggers to live-blog the conference?
Is your appetite whetted? The Social CRM Hero Guide for Conferences can be downloaded here, and is chock full of tactical goodness to help you rock the social media house.
It’s never too late to start applying social media to conferences. You may already be doing some of this. And with a little planning and collaboration with your colleagues, you can keep building the online experience around your conferences to reflect the wonderful face-to-face experience you work so hard to achieve. Good luck, and have fun getting to know your participants in all new ways.