Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Friendly Union: Adding Social Media to Your Events

I've been getting quite a few questions on how to leverage social media for events and shows. Here are some general tips to help you get started. This list is not exhaustive so if you want to add more ideas, go for it.

The definition of an event in this case will be an event or trade show that you're organizing or you're participating in.

Before your event:
1. Tweet about your upcoming event using the appropriate hashtags (e.g., your hashtag, event hashtag and/or industy- or topic-related hashtags). Possible topics could include speakers, teaser topics, questions you'll answer in your presentation, excerpts from presentation(s), attendance/booth info if you're attending, on-site meeting opportunities, etc. Make sure your participants know you're on Twitter.
2. Consider creating a video prior to your event and upload it to the various video syndication sites. Prior to the event, your call to action (CTA) can point people to your event (or participation in a given event). After the event, the CTA can be easily removed if needed and the video can be reposted if the content is still relevant. For example, if you're participating in a consumer-focused trade show or event, your video content should focus on how you can help the consumer segment and invite viewers to come to your show or event to learn more.
3. If you have a Facebook fan page or LinkedIn profile, post an invitation there too. In addition, you can create an event on Facebook and LinkedIn to which you can invite your contacts, groups you belong to, etc. You can even create groups around your event.
4. In some cases, you might find it useful to seed some teaser questions and get some speculations/discussions going before your event to pique interest. Or, you may choose to do a Twitter chat on a related topic in preparation for your event. Any type of engagement prior to an event can help.
5. Integrate all these communications channels. Blog and tweet about your video, tweet about your blog, etc. Include your social media accounts in your email campaign. Add social media links on your website and/or event website. Use all available channels to get the word out.
6. Offer channel-specific exclusive (Facebook, Twitter) content or perks prior to event (e.g, free passes for doing X).
7. Seek out and personally invite select groups and/or individuals via social media to your event. Based on the agenda, find speakers on Twitter prior to event and connect with them.

During your event:
1. Live tweet or blog updates from your event, including speakers, key takeaways, coming up next, results from a poll (if you have one), etc. Be sure to use your hashtag.
2. If available to you, display tweets about your event on the big screen in the main presentation hall. Or, pull live tweets into your event or webcast page. (Virtual tweets are a good way to remind and encourage other participants to tweet about your event.)
3. Take video footage of your event and participants, ask them for quotes. These quotes can be tweeted to your followers. If available to you, also consider doing (video) blog interviews you can post online during the event. Interview presenters as well as speakers. If available to you, use a Flip camera to enable quick turnaround times in editing and uploading to video sharing sites and almost real-time online promotion.
4. Update your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. status. If you're a location-based platform user, you might want to check in there too.
5. Consider running "parallel virtual sessions" on a social networking platform of your choice. The idea is to pose and discuss a question online at the same time it's covered and/or include your online audience in the web version of the same polls you're running at the live event.
6. Monitor the activity on your social networking sites during the event and respond/engage as appropriate.
7. If you're running a virtual event, consider using Twitter to gather live questions which can be answered during Q&A.
8. If you're presenting or somebody is speaking from your company, ask them to include the appropriate social media links in their presentation.

After your event:
1. Consider posting your presentations on SlideShare. Remind people to visit the event material on SlideShare.
2. Turn parts of the SlideShare presentation into a blog and reference the event at which this material was presented. Insert a link back to or embed the complete SlideShare deck so people can learn more. Tweet about this blog to your followers and be sure to use social bookmarking tools such as Digg or StumbleUpon. Have your friends and colleagues help promote these tools as well.
3. Release the video footage on video syndication sites and/or embed them into your blog. Reference the event at which the footage was taken.
4. Share pictures and videos from the event with your Facebook and/or LinkedIn group(s).
5. Ask speakers/presenters to continue to conversation for 1-2 hours after end of your event on your Facebook (or LinkedIn) discussion forum.
6. Pick a topic, announce it in the live session but manage the discussion online on your platform of choice.
7. Do a final check for any comments, tweets or posts you might have missed during the event and still require attention. Respond to outstanding questions in a timely manner. If you promised to follow up on something, be sure to do so.
8. Consider gathering feedback and asking for suggestions for future events if/as appropriate.
9. Organize a Tweet Up around the topic during or after the event.
10. Give exposure to people you have met, started following you or you started following at the event (e.g., #FF).
11. Drive attendees to your Community page to continue the conversation when the event is over.

Adding social media to your events has many benefits, some of which are listed here:
- Extend the life of your event
- Reach people that are unable to attend in person
- Reiterate and spread your key messages to a wider audience
- Raise awareness of and interest in future events

What other ideas do you have?

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