The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media for Events – a Look at Both Sides of the Story.

Social media is a hot topic these days so it’s important to evaluate its place at your next conference. It can be an incredibly powerful way to amplify your message and create a community, but it’s not for the feint hearted either. There are certain catastrophes to avoid. This article will take a look at both sides of the story, so you can reach your own verdict. Let’s go!

• Remember your attendees will be using social media during your conference whether you embrace it or not. So at the very least I encourage you to cover the basics, like nominate an event hashtag for Twitter and Instagram. This way everyone is communicating on the same page, so to speak. Advise people what the hashtag is well in advance so attendees and potential attendees can start communicating.

• Consider starting a LinkedIn or Facebook group for people who’ve registered. The beauty of this tactic is that you can facilitate the connection between delegates and they do the rest of the work, if you get out of their way. You get the kudos and the delegates will take it upon themselves to organise catch ups, dinners and meetups.

• Do ask this group and other attendees for feedback before and after your event. You will get suggestions for topics, venues and speakers which will help you create a program that delegates love and since they will have a sense of ownership they likely to refer their friends.

• Give special VIP treatment to bloggers and tweeters. Offer free wifi, acknowledge them publicly and even provide a special room so they recharge their phones, connect with fellow bloggers and get some content done. This makes the bloggers feel like royalty and means there is plenty of top quality “conference content” being published. Yes it takes the burden of content creation off your shoulders too!

• Don’t get egg on your face by not moderating tweets that are displayed on a visible, public wall. There are a few apps and projector displays that allow tweets to be broadcast live on screen at important events like conference dinners. Just be sure to have a moderator check the tweets before they get broadcast on the screen in front of hundreds of delegates. It is not unusual for trolls to hijack a hashtag and make highly inappropriate comments — not what you want!

• Don’t accidentally offend sponsors, delegates or speakers by not being clear on your stance on live broadcasting. Live streaming apps like Periscope exist on phones of potentially event delegate and they can be as powerful as a TV network in terms of sharing the conference content. This can be a blessing or a burden depending on the rules you set.

It can be great for getting the word out there about your event, giving speakers additional exposure and sparking interest and ticket sales for your next event. If you consider the famous TED Talks, the speakers’ content is shared on YouTube for free, yet people happily pay thousands of dollars to attend live. The value to attendees here is the access and networking opportunities that are possible when you attend live.

However if people have paid to be at the conference and the content can be live streamed for free, it may undervalue your offering. Plus speakers may take offence that their content is being shared for free.

In my experience, there is no right or wrong but you should have an official stance that says any of the following.

We endorse and encourage the use live broadcasting apps like Periscope. Thanks for sharing this conference with your network of followers.

We will be live broadcasting the conference (or parts of it) but we ask that attendees don’t broadcast

We understand that live streaming apps like Periscope exist and we request that you respect the speakers, sponsors and paying delegates and refrain from using them. Thanks.

• Don’t stress or feel bad if you don’t have time to fully implement social media for your next event, but please do consider it as it can really enhance your conference.

All the best with whatever you decide!

About the author:
Adam Franklin is the co-author of Web Marketing That Works, an Amazon #1 bestseller. He is a social media speaker who teaches audiences the Truth About Social Media for Business and Killer Digital Strategies.

Contributor to CIM Magazine

The 9th Annual PCOA Conference and Exhibition, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, 27 – 29 November 2016