When was the last time you attended an event and no one mentioned social media? Every conference organiser’s dream is to trend on Twitter or get a buzz going across social media. From the opening remarks, we’re encouraged to tweet, snap photos and promote the conference in real time. If you want better social media coverage of your event, make sure you’ve done your groundwork before the event begins.
Part of event planning should include finding the right hashtag. You’ll want something short, descriptive, and not already in heavy use. Don’t assume you’re the only one using your hashtag. There are several tools to help you select a good one, but Hashtagify.me isn’t a bad place to start. Do your research BEFORE you start promoting the event.
If you’re running an annual event, try to find a hashtag to stand the test of time. A good tag, like the Content Marketing Institute’s #cmworld, can be used throughout the year to organise a community of past and future attendees.
Adding a year to the end of a popular hashtag might be a good way to differentiate your conference from other topics, but it also fragments a potential long-term audience into specific years. Make sure your audience knows whether to use a four-digit year or a two-digit year to avoid further fragmentation. People trying to follow tweets or photos from your event probably won’t be aware they’re missing out if you have competing event tags.
Put your hashtag on your website
Journalists, bloggers and conference delegates will visit your website to find your hashtag. If you have it on the site, you’re more likely to get help promoting your event before it happens. It also allows you to start building community support before the event and, quite possibly, drive a few more sign-ups from people who didn’t know about it before and learned about it on social media.
Create a social-friendly masterslide
If your presenters are using PowerPoint, make sure your conference hashtag is on the footer of every slide. For good measure, make sure the speaker’s Twitter and Instagram handle are in the footer of every slide, too.
This helps with two things:
- Audience members can tag the speaker in their social posts.
- When people take photos of projected slides during the conference, your hashtags are included, helping to extend your brand.
Add Twitter/Instagram IDs to introduction slides
The introduction slide for every speaker should have Twitter and Instagram IDs included right below or next to their name. This is their online identity and it helps people who want to promote your event in real time ensure they have the right handle. There’s nothing more disappointing to someone who has been tweeting about your conference to realise they’ve tagged the wrong ‘Janet Smith’ throughout the conference.
This is particularly important for speakers who don’t use slides. The audience benefits from having the social handles on the intro slide and can still include them in tweets or Instagram posts.
Make sure to brief your MC
I recently attended a conference where the MC gave out the wrong hashtag – one from a previous event. Since the conference hashtag was not on the slides or in any of the materials, it was hard to know what to use.
Avoid live updates during the event
In the early days of Twitter, a live feed was often run in the ticker along the bottom of the screen, much like a ‘breaking news’ story. This becomes a massive distraction to the audience and they start interacting with the ticker and stop listening to the speaker. This is the last thing you want. You can promote popular tweets during breaks but don’t do it while your speakers are onstage.
Include Twitter handles in conference handouts
If you’re printing a conference handout or booklet, make sure to include your event hashtag and social media IDs of your speakers. This is especially important if the information isn’t included on your presentation slides. It allows power users to set up tweets in advance. It also allows your audience members to tweet about your event after it’s ended.
Give credit where due
If you publish information about social media activity after the event, make sure you identify who was behind the tweets or posts. It builds rapport with social media influencers and is a good way to recognise and thank them for promoting your event. It also helps you build trust with people reading your wrap-up and reviews by showing the information wasn’t fabricated or embellished.
Getting more out of social media
Whether you’re social media savvy or not, your audience will certainly have people who are enthusiastic about sharing their experience at your conference. You want to do everything you can to encourage them. It’s a great way to get earned media for the event and build interest in future events. If you have a good hashtag and are organised early, you can improve attendance and foster community engagement before the event even starts. Your speakers will appreciate a good social media strategy because it helps raise their profile. Lastly, by distributing some of the best social activity during the event, you create desire for future events.
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