Social media is not the only benchmark for an attendee’s engagement with your event.
Here at GenieConnect, we’re quietly proud of the way that we’ve integrated social media such as Facebook and Twitter into our event technology. You can tweet or like content or session data directly from the app – which means that even those without Twitter or Facebook accounts can join in the fun. And at the big events we support – for example, World Travel Market or the Mobile World Congress – you’ll find evidence of fairly intensive social media activity.
However, in the UK, the latest stats from the UK’s Office of National Statistics showed that only 44% of businesses used Twitter and this dipped to as low as 20% for industries like construction. (We tried in vain to find similar figures for other countries.) So, while marketers and digital natives may be filling the Twittersphere with content, the same may not be true for engineers or medical researchers. If your next event is aimed at these latter groups, then you shouldn’t expect a vast amount of social media activity to take place.
Is this a reason to panic or throw away the notion of using event technology at your next industry or corporate meeting? Absolutely not. Let’s go back to the reasons why we get excited about people using social media at events – it’s because this is the most immediate way of seeing that your attendees are actually engaging with your event. But it’s not the only way.
For example, you can now conduct live polling via a mobile app to both engage with your audience and gauge their feelings on a particular topic. You can use gamification so visitors can compete against each other to be top of a leaderboard. You can encourage networking between attendees by enabling them to message each other and set up meetings – even make smart recommendations for people they might like to meet by matching them up with others with similar profiles.
In short, social media is simply one of a number of ways of demonstrating engagement with your event and a tweet or a ‘like’ may not be the first choice of doing so for many of your attendees. So, by all means check that your event technology partner does social media integration properly – but make sure that you are not settling for a one-trick pony when what you actually need is a thoroughbred.
If you do any sort of writing for the web, you have less than 30 seconds to keep my eyeballs on this page. If I’m reading your text, why should I care? How are you grabbing my attention and keeping it?
What makes your *thing* different from the next?
Tell me something I don’t know. Tell me a story that only you can. Got an anecdote to share? If it’s funny, illuminating, or contains some juicy gossip, I probably want to hear it. Does it make me see you for the quirky, unique person you are? Does it make your company stand out from all the rest? Does it make me care about your project or organization? Good, then maybe I’ll keep reading.
Do you have some area of expertise to share? Great. I’ll read your article if I’m going to learn something new. Please don’t just recycle the current jargon and package it with a pretty bow and expect me to be impressed. I want some valuable information that is accurate and reliable. And I want to hear it in an original voice. I want to know that I’m dealing with a real person with whom I want to connect, and maybe even conduct business.
We writers of online content have a tricky path to walk. We need our text to be grabbed up by the search engines via our keywords. Oh yes, they are still the backbone of our online search engine ranking. But we also have to distinguish ourselves from the avalanche of writing that is out there on any given topic.
Why do I care about what you have to say?
Remember that keywords are simply not enough. You have to be writing something that people care about, enough to comment on and share with their friends. You know that saying, “Pictures, or it didn’t happen?” Well the new phrase is, “Share it, or it doesn’t matter.”
Seriously, nothing happens in a vacuum anymore. It’s all about creating a buzz, getting people talking, increasing your following, your likes, and your friends. Get real, be honest, be original, take risks! Sure, use your keywords, but then go out on a limb and do something crazy. Distinguish yourself from the crowd with a story that only you can tell, insights that only you can share – something from your own, unique experience.
I’ll share a pet peeve with you. I do a lot of online writing – for my own creative projects as well as for clients. Lately I’ve had to do research on new topics I’m writing about, and I’ve become very discouraged at the quality of material that I’ve found. It seems like the internet is becoming an echo chamber of self-referencing material, with no clear authority or source to much of the stuff that sits at the top of search engine pages.
Without opening up a whole dialogue about Wikipedia, scholarship and online research (definitely a topic for another day), I will say that the internet as a collective representation of current thought and knowledge can use some smart and original contributions. If you take the art of writing seriously, and I hope you do, please make your work part of the solution, and not part of the problem.
If you like what you’ve read here, then have a look at the content branding workshop series I’ve developed with award-winning designer Jennifer Dopazo. It’s called The Branding Lounge. If you live in New York City, we have a new session coming up in a couple of weeks.
Photo courtesy of familymwr.
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!
No one knows your organization’s history better than you. No one cares about the product you’ve created more than you. You know every highlight, every important detail and every challenge your conference faces.
But that doesn’t mean you can tell your story better than anyone.
The passion you have for you organization can drive a strategic vision, concept the right theme and get the right speakers on stage to motivate attendees. But will it draw a captive audience to attend? Does your membership understand the organization’s purpose, vision and the messages its trying to convey?
Successful communication is paramount to getting the right message to the right audience through the right channels. Entrusting that task to an outsider—whether it’s a member of your communications team, a PR agency or a journalist—is not easy. The media might twist your words, a Tweet could be taken out of context or a reporter might not highlight what you think are the most important aspects.
Developing talking points is a great way to take control of your story and accurately communicate your message across all channels, whether that’s through your own social media and marketing or an outside channel like the media.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Think like a reporter. Develop a list of questions people ask about your brand, organization or conference.
2. Work backward. Answer your questions with supporting information, facts and anecdotes about your conference.
3. Narrow down your message. Select three reoccurring points that accurately convey who you are, why you exist and what you do.
4. Drive it home. Some channels will require you to expand on those points and others to hone in on one, but all communications—from a representative being interviewed to an email marketing piece—should be based on those key points.
Having a passion for your organization’s product, service or message is a great place to start. Funneling that passion into well-defined, clear communication will help the rest of the world understand and share your passion.
What brands do you think best communicate who they are, why they exist and what they do?