Everyone in the event industry tells you to use technology and social media to make your events better.
What the heck does that even mean??
What you need is a way to extend the life cycle of your events and increase engagement between your attendees and sponsors. In essence, you want to build a community that lives beyond the final session.
So let’s get specific. Let’s see how you can use technology to get people talking about your event, talking to each other, and talking even after the show is over.
Getting Started Early
Your show website is a wealth of social information. When you list out your sponsors, also post their social media information and encourage site visitors to interact with them! I promise you; the companies who help fund your event will love you for driving qualified traffic their way.
Also, be sure to create a unique show hashtag for attendees and exhibitors to use in their own social updates. As soon as you announce your event, start using the event hashtag!
You can even take it one step further and use the hashtag to take on the event name. This encourages people to think of your hashtag every time they think of your show! Here’s an example:
— Hubb (@hubbdotme) August 13, 2013
Create a Community Culture
When you give your event community their own environment to interact with speakers, partners, and with each other, they’ll take your event into the social stratosphere.
To easily accomplish this, choose event technology that incorporates those engagement avenues. There are various types of apps you can use, ranging from simple mobile apps to fully-featured content management and engagement solutions.
The good ones will make it easy for attendees to filter, chat, and add each other on social channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. The best ones will allow attendees to link their social accounts and see which of their connections will be attending your event.
An additional benefit that most people don’t consider is making it easy to connect with speakers. Think about it: what are your attendees doing in every session?
If your chosen event technology doesn’t allow attendees to naturally come together, consider upgrading.
Delegate the Small Stuff
Another way technology can help your social game is by allowing you to take care of the little stuff in advance.
When you know your show schedule, you actually know soooo much more than just your show schedule. You also know the exact times of about twenty different tweets and other social updates!
Want to remind your attendees where lunch is at when it’s time to eat? Just schedule that message to go out as the morning round of sessions is ending. The same thing goes with reminders about the event app and session surveys, too.
Make your life on-site a little easier. Delegate that stuff beforehand!
Keep the Momentum Going
When most events are over, engagement drops significantly.
Let’s be honest: when most shows are over, engagement flat-out dies! Attendees go home, and it’s like they were never even there. Your social media significance is abruptly reduced, and all the energy and momentum you had during the event is just… gone.
The first (and easiest) thing you can do is begin replying to mentions of your event on social media channels, even if they don’t include the hashtag. Attendees tend to stop using the event hashtag once the show is over, but they don’t stop talking about what they learned.
Second, you can tie event assets to social media engagement. Are you making your session slide decks available to attendees or to the public? Make them work a little for it! Have them use social media to unlock various levels of attendance perks. 100 total post-event hashtag tweets earns them the slide decks a few days early. 25 Instagram photos decked out in event swag unlocks an exclusive podcast with the star speakers.
You get the idea.
Topping the Plateau
We’ve reached a critical mass. It’s already been documented that the event industry must do better. We need to raise the bar if we’re going to continue to be taken seriously by a higher tier of clientele. Attendees and event owners are expecting more, and we can either give it to them or fade into the obscurity of party planning.
The smart use of technology is one answer to this challenge. By applying some intuitive ideas with a modern twist, we can extend the life cycle of our events and keep attendees engaged around our brands and around our ideals.
Want to talk more about these and other methods for bringing our industry into 21st century relevancy? Drop me a line! All my contact information is below. Now go forth and execute!