If there is one industry Social Media was born to serve it is the Event Planning Industry. The buzz and interaction that social media can deliver leading up to and on the day of an event has never been experienced or even dreamed of before Social Media came along. Today, Planners can implement the use of social media right from recruiting speakers and inviting suggestions for topics to announcing new sponsors and entertainment.
Using the many tools of Social Media effectively requires an understanding of the mechanics and the varying cultures of each tool. Knowing where your target audience hangs out on the internet will help maximize your time and efforts and obviously, your results. While Facebook may be home to over 500 million people across the globe, it may not be the place to promote your next Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention for example.
Starting with a blog dedicated to your event can be a great way to share all aspects of the event, from the planning stages through welcoming sponsors, adding speakers, developing the program, highlighting the facility and other activities in and around the center. These topics are all great fodder for blog content. Looking to your speakers for help in spreading the news on their blogs and other social media accounts is also a natural way to help build buzz. What many people don’t realize, is that yes, blogs provide a place for readers to engage with the content there, but they are also amazing Search Engine Optimization tools.
You can also dedicate a Facebook page to an event if it suits your event’s target market. This is a great way to share photos of the event and invite attendees to share their photos and comments. You may get some negative feedback, but addressing it in a timely manner may turn a disappointed attendee into a dedicated fan and return customer. Speakers may be willing to answer questions posted on the Facebook page after their presentations. It’s great PR for the speaker and will create a nice dialogue. Be sure to promote your Facebook page on site at the event too. You could even set up computers where attendees can log on to Facebook onsite and “Like” your page. Or, how about testing some super high tech solutions like “Like” stickers from Sotokolan.com that can take your Facebook page URL and turn it into a sticker with a GR Barcode. Workshop attendees can use their cell phones to read the bardcode and fan your page instantly. You can even embed a barcode on the event brochure.
Twitter’s Hashtag feature has become the standard industry tool for building buzz before an event and for live reporting from attendees during the event. Attendees are encouraged to Tweet about their experiences live and savvy event planners assign specific Hashtags and promote them everywhere at the event. Event planners have become very creative in incorporating the tweets of participants through onscreen real-time viewing of attendee tweets at the event and for remote participation by individuals who couldn’t attend in person. Some event planners like WineTwits.com have even developed there own web based solution to tweeting notes on wines from participants of wine tasting events.
The ways to integrate Social Media into your next event are truly endless. As I said before, Social Media was born to serve the Meeting Planning industry. Meetings are all about being Social, and Social Media tools can help take “social” to a whole new level.