Social Media & “The Industry”
I think most people who work in the meeting and event planning industry are usually pretty social by nature, it’s almost a requirement for what we do. So when social media made its debut, I think we quickly picked-up on [social media] as an opportunity to engage our participants, not only as the event is happening live, but at all points of the event process.
Social media tends to be the focus point for information sharing for almost everything... When I think about myself as an attendee at an event, I find myself going to their event’s social media pages to see the day-to-day happenings. I even sometimes make choices about what activities I am going to attend based on what friends, colleagues and other attendees elect to attend. And if I, as an event professional, am exhibiting this type of behavior, I am most certain that my clients’ event attendees are as well.
One of the newest social media trends that I’ve seen has been live polling, chatting and tweeting. Not only do these elements focus on networking, they also promote participant engagement.
I am personally excited about “Live Broadcasting” … within the meeting and event planning industry. Live broadcasting with apps like Periscope (launched just this year) create a new memorable experience, and tend to be more exciting and engaging than just a photo or a text-based post.
Social Media Success
I had the pleasure of working on an event that utilized social media in a few different ways. A mobile app, which featured chat and networking components, was a huge hit with participants. When you go to large events, [attendees are] not going to know every person in attendance. With these components, you don’t have to actually meeting them to interact and network with them.
The event itself was also pretty active and had a lot of entertainment which was amazing to shoot using Instagram. The pictures were stunning. The client shot and edited videos on location and had them quickly uploaded on to their social media sites, for all to see.
They also showed their participant’s Instagram photos (the ones that used their specific event hashtag) on large screens, at the start and finish of their plenary sessions, at their meals, and while on downtime. All of the ways that they used social media made for an engaging event, but also drove their registration sales for their next event.
The Event Process
I try to incorporate social media into my event strategy right from the beginning. When selecting certain color schemes, venues, and even where my entertainment is concerned, I like to think of what it would look like on social media: How will my audience capture my event when they view my posts? How will this photograph? Will this be appealing to the eye and will it engage, not only present participants, but also future ones as well?
Before the event begins, it’s extremely important to promote your event and get your potential attendees excited about the experience [at your] upcoming event. Creating a general hashtag that can be used throughout most social media outlets is a must. Spreading the word about exciting activities that will take place, or posting pictures of things such as event décor, the venue, or the city, can generate buzz, causing people to want to be a part of your event. It’s also wonderful to be able to answer questions from attendees who post on social media, when I am unable to be reached by phone or email.
When the event is in full swing, it’s always fun to interact with your participants, speakers, and even individuals who couldn’t make the event, via social media. Shooting short videos of sessions while they’re in action, mentioning particular speakers or participants, or even snapping a few pictures of your snack breaks are also ingenious ways to keep your event engaging, interesting and fresh.When the event has concluded, that doesn’t mean that the event’s social media presence should cease. Social media is a brilliant way to get feedback from your attendees; what did they think about certain aspects of your event (i.e. the food, the venue, the sessions, the entertainment, etc.). Showcasing the highlights, thanking VIPs and speakers for attending, and even encouraging participants to ask follow-up questions, are also fantastic ways to use social media post-event. You can also post short participant testimonials; these videos can be funny and entertaining, and can really set the stage for… your future events’ success!