Twitter tops social media for its ability to engage real time with over 310 million users daily. In fact, news now breaks on Twitter before it does on traditional news. You may remember this iconic tweet:
When Ellen DeGeneres took this selfie live during the Emmy Awards broadcast in 2015 and called on viewers to retweet her tweet, nearly a million did so in an hour. You may not see how that relates to your conference which attracts just a few hundred or a few thousand, but imagine how, if people who attend your event this year share their experiences on social media, it can increase your attendee numbers next year. Now I have your attention right?
To tap into this powerful marketing tool you must have a Twitter account to get started and make sure your profile reflects the following:
- Create a handle that is an acronym for the conference name
- Follow other Twitter accounts that are related to your industry or speakers at your event
- Choose a picture from the conference that depicts the experience for the header photo with the #hashtag for the event in the corner of the picture
- Upload a picture of the logo for the profile picture
- In the bio section be sure to provide a link to the website or shopping cart to register for the event
The next step is to create a hashtag (#) for your event. A good practice is to simply add the year in four numbers or just the last two digits, for example #Olympics2016 or #Olympics16. Place the hashtag on all your marketing materials and even create banners throughout the conference halls and meeting rooms. People who are using social media know when they see a hashtag what to do with it. Also, encourage speakers to have attendees post on their social pages about what they learn or experience during their sessions. While the use of hashtags originated on Twitter, many other social media platforms are also seeing huge engagement with their use: Google+, Instagram, and Snapchat.
To see which social media sites where your hashtags are being used, check out tagboard.com. Here are some tools that can help you project a digital wall of live posts from multiple social media platforms live during the event to spark engagement:
I attend Social Media Marketing World Conference (#SMMW) held every spring in San Diego, California. It draws thousands of attendees and has trended on Twitter every year for all 3 days of the event. To get an idea of the impact, log on to Twitter and search on these hashtags: #smmw13, 14, 15 or 16. Thousands of posts from attendees before, during and after the event help keep it top of mind all year long .
Another way to spark conversations and to attract look-alike audiences for your events is to use Twitter’s new Events feature. This feature allows targeting of conversations about your event, provides you opportunities to set-up specific audiences, and add your event to the Events calendar to track what people are saying about their conference experience. Primarily, there are three elements of this feature that can boost engagement for your event:
- Event Calendar Lists major global events, tentpole events related to sports, holidays, festivals, TV, music and politics.
- Event Insights This provides a breakdown of audience reach, device usage, gender demographics and tweet engagement statistics for your or other conferences in your industry. Other insights that could be very helpful in planning the event or designing content.
- Event Activation Allows you to add an event to the calendar and design targeted ads to market your event to a custom designed audience.
Here is a great visual checklist to help you implement the use of a Twitter Ad:
In the example below the upcoming IAA 2016 conference lists an audience size of 3.4-million that could see posts on or about your event. For more information on how to use the events feature, here is a link.
Twitter Lists is also a great way to help people connect with other attendees who have similar interests or roles within an industry. It is also a great way for attendees to engage with speakers. Many speakers tweet out messages or ask for content ideas for sessions. When you create a list and then add someone to the list they are sent a tweet and that makes them feel like they’ve been added to a members-only club – so cool!
Create polls to gauge attendee experience in real time. Create a little gamification by offering giveaways for their participation. Tweetarchivist.com is a tool that helps you track hashtags and even generates a leaderboard of who is tweeting the most during the conference.
Lastly, pre-plan your tweets in advance of the event using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to share session updates (room changes, for example), spark conversations (post an end-of-the-day question, “What was your favorite session of the day?” or facilitate meet-ups by asking “Where are you going for dinner?”
Using these tips will definitely help you “Rock” your next event!
Share your successes with me and other event professionals in the comments.
Sherry Hayes-Peirce is an internationally known speaker and blogger on social media topics. She is founder of CEO Communication Consultants Inc., and its subsidiary companies Social Media Mobile Maven and Church Social Tips. She is a guest lecturer through UCI Extension.