Many event organizers use social media channels to drive attendance to their events but only a few maintain their presence on Twitter or Facebook during the event to engage their participants. And that’s a great pity!
If you stop using social media the moment your conference gets rolling, not only are you cutting off the conversation with your attendees too soon but you’re also losing an important community building opportunity.
In fact, integrating and nourishing social media is a key element in engaging your attendees and creating a desired sense of community.
Here are 5 steps to integrating social media into your event and engaging your attendees.
1.) Give your attendees a simple #hashtag
The event hashtag is as important as the name of your event. It gives your event an identity on social media! The hashtag allows your delegates to join online conversations, live-tweet event highlights and interact with one another.
Moreover, by monitoring your hashtag, you can turn Twitter into your private backchannel and listen to audience’s feedback in real-time.
So what does a great event hashtag look like?
- It’s short Tweets can be only 140 characters long so always try to keep your event hashtag short to save space for actual messages. Using initials and numbers is a proven way how to generate a solid hashtag that people will use.
- It’s unique Do some research and make sure your selected hasthag is not already taken. You don’t want to mix with someone else’s conversation and confuse your attendees.
- It’s memorable Your event hashtag should be so easy that event attendees could deduce it logically from the event’s name. Ideally, your hashtag matches the name of your event. For instance, the SXSW conference has the hashtag #SXSW.
2.) Incentify tweeting
It’s not enough to simply announce the hashtag of your conference; you should encourage your delegates to use it. When Guy Kawasaki was promoting the latest Motorola X on the tour, he explicitly asked people at the offset of his keynote to use the hashtag and tweet that they were attending his event in person.
You can gamify tweeting at your event to increase the number of sent tweets. Organize a simple contest where a delegate with the highest number of tweets or with the most retweeted messages wins a prize.
Use tools like Twubs to project the leaderboards of your Twitter contests and incite the competitive spirit among your attendees. You wouldn’t believe what people are capable of doing to win a branded T-shirt.
3.) Display the Twitter stream
Beaming the attendees’ tweets boosts the interaction and brings exposure to your delegates. For some, seeing their tweet on the screen feels as if they’ve just appeared on the national TV.
One caution, you might want to appoint someone to moderate tweets before they appear on the walls so they are not covered with self-promotional content.
4.) Build a photo wall
Have you seen the Oscar red carpet ceremony? Have you seen the highlights from a film premiere? They all have one thing in common – the photo wall.
Give your attendees a dedicated place where they can take pictures. Set up your own photo wall and hand out the props to make the pictures look fun!
Make sure to encourage social media sharing by announcing the photo contest. For instance, the top three photos with the highest number of likes or retweets will win a bottle of whiskey, a box of Legos or a t-shirt.
5.) Involve your speakers
Your speaker lineup is usually one of the reasons why your delegates pay hundreds of dollars for the ticket and fly hundreds of kilometers to your event. They want to see their heroes live and they would love to grab a selfie with them. According to Julia Hartz from Eventbrite “selfies are the new autographs” and approximately 100% of these selfies get shared on social media.
Therefore, encourage your speakers to spend some time with the delegates after their presentation and respond to their questions face-to-face, elaborate on the points they made on stage, and take photos.
Do you engage attendees with social media at your events? Please share your tips with us.
Juraj Holub is the Marketing Manager at sli.do. Sli.do is an award-winning Q&A and polling platform for live events that allows everyone in the audience to ask questions and vote on live polls via their mobile devices.
Since its foundation in 2012, sli.do has helped to transform 2500 events in 55 countries by engaging tens of thousands of participants. Sli.do has been adopted by the number of renowned conferences such as the SXSW festival, LeWeb conference and has worked with high-profile clients including Google, Eventbrite, Zappos, KPMG, SAP or Cisco.