How to Make an Impact with Social Media for Conferences
Published on March 22, 2022
If you’re planning the social media for conferences, trade shows, or other big events, make sure your efforts are impactful.
The energy is palpable. There’s a buzz of excitement and expectation. It’s conference week, and your company is hosting one of the most anticipated events in your industry—and you’re in charge of social media. For conferences this big, managing the social media can be a full-time job.
You want people to engage, to value your work, and you want them to share. Your social media presence is the hype!
Of course, even for a small conference, your social media plan is a big part of engaging attendees. And, yes, planning is a major element of a successful strategy. If attendees don’t know where to follow you on social media, or what hashtag to use, the results are apparent: A few scattered posts, few online conversations, and maybe a couple of comments on your feed. That doesn’t seem appealing to people who aren’t there in person.
Engage your attendees with a real-time, fully customizable social media wall. Start your social media wall today.
Social media for conferences: How to do it right
When you plan your social media for conferences or other events, it’s important to remember that from a social media and marketing standpoint, the conference begins well before the opening speaker. Weeks before, in fact. Why?
Let’s take a look at how social networks, and how they work for events, starting with what platform to use.
Simply put, Twitter is THE ideal social media platform for conferences. Most people are familiar with Twitter, it’s easy to follow and participate in a conversation, and the platform is designed for fast-paced interaction.
Use a hashtag
Of course, to follow a conversation on Twitter, you need a hashtag. Every conference needs one. Ideally, you can use the same hashtag from year to year (assuming you host a yearly conference). If not, make it something easily identifiable and intuitive. For instance, maybe a conference hosted by a pilot’s association in San Diego might be #skyconsd.
Promote your hashtag
List it on confirmation documents for attendees. Use it on your own Twitter feed. Place it prominently on your website. Embed a social wall on your website and get a live feed of any Tweets with your hashtag.
All of that promotion starts well before the conference opens. As soon as you begin planning the conference, start using your hashtag when you @mention speakers as they get confirmed. Use the hashtag when you @mention sponsors, too. Use the hashtag when you announce new events—and really, use it for anything you post to social media that is related to your event.
When conference attendees use your hashtag, it’s your job to stay engaged with them. Retweet them, answer questions, or even ask them questions and get the conversations going.
Don’t forget that social media is marketing
This isn’t the place to get into arguments, post pictures of your dinner, or Retweet a cat meme (well, ok, a good cat meme is almost always acceptable, but you get the idea). Stick to your professional voice. You can still have fun. You can be casual. Just do it professionally.
Interview guest speakers—before and during your event
Don’t forget you can post short videos on Twitter and Instagram. Build the momentum by posting a series of questions and answers with your guest speakers ahead of time. At your event, try to get a short quote or statement from them that you can share on social media.
Be a tour guide
Conference attendees will want to get out of their hotel. Post a list of nearby restaurants in the host city. Share interesting trivia or points of interest in the area. You may have to research the area, but it’s an excellent way to add value for your conference attendees—and if you talk to and tag local businesses, it’s also a great way to be a good guest.
As a bonus, you can schedule this kind of update ahead of time using a tool like Buffer. And if you schedule them toward the end of the days or during lunch breaks, your audience can benefit from seeing them on your social wall even if they aren’t keeping up on Twitter.
Plan for problems ahead of time
There is a potential downside in using social media for conferences and events. Any complaints or problems can show up for anyone to see. You may or may not be able to help, but you do need to respond. Plan now, and these posts will be much easier to attend to when (or if) they happen. It’s also worth noting that the positives of using social media for conferences far outweigh the negatives, so don’t let the possibility of a few complaints scare you.
And in case you’re worried about these showing up on your digital signage all over the conference, fear not! You can use an automated or human filter to moderate what shows up on those screens.
Remember that your event isn’t over just because it’s over
The social media impact of an event can last far beyond the event itself. Keep the energy going. Put together short highlight videos and share them. Run a poll about attendees’ favorite part of the conference. Make a list of resource materials to share on your social media platforms. Keep the social wall embedded on your website. Social media is a conversation. The more you can keep that conversation alive, the more excitement you’re building for your next conference.
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