Shifting Out of Broadcast Mode

With the widespread acceptance of social networking as a viable means of business communication, professional conference organisers have more power than ever to promote their events. Sarah Mitchell explains why adopting an engagement model is vital for your success.

Social media has become the great equaliser for corporate promotion. No longer are we at the mercy of PR agencies or media gurus simply because of their connections. Even the sole proprietor now has the ability to attract attention and get their news and events out to a wide audience without a big budget.

It’s not hard to embark on a social media campaign to build interest in your next event. With little more than a faint idea of how to navigate the internet, you can set up a Facebook page, start a LinkedIn discussion group or tweet your very first event registration notice. Social networking tools are designed for ease of use and even the most reluctant PCOs can quickly become converts.

The barrier to success comes because most people forget the credo of social media is that it has to be social. Because we’ve been conditioned to broadcast our event details to every corner possible, it’s easy to lapse into a one-way communication where we’re doing all the talking.  Operate in an outbound broadcast mode – the error of many organisations and almost all newcomers to social networking – and you’ll never gain influence with your audience.  The people you’re most trying to reach won’t even bother to tune in.

Moving into a true model of engagement isn’t has difficult as you may think. There’s no reason to go ‘off message’ either. Consider everything you’re doing to be part of a conversation. Craft your posts and profile updates like you are speaking with one person. As with face-to-face communications, make sure you’re asking questions and answering questions asked of you.  Say hello and goodbye, address people by name and always thank anyone who has shared your information. These little touches are easy to do and attach a human flair to your brand.

Make no mistake, creating a socially engaging profile for your company can be time consuming. When you move away from broadcast mode, you put yourself in the role of content curator. Since you’re not talking about yourself all the time, you need to find relevant information to share with your audience. Jay Baer at Convince and Convert {1} conducted research showing the sweet spot for content curation is a 40/60 split; 40 per cent of your social media activity points back to you, 60 per cent is external to your business.

There’s no need to panic because you probably already know where to find the other 60 per cent of the content. Your first stop should be speakers and sponsors for your event. These people usually jump at the chance to contribute original content or are delighted to have you share something they’re already written. The daily newspaper, industry publications and your favourite blog posts all contain content you can share with your audience.

Your corporate message can stay the same; just put it in a friendly wrapper. Next time you think about sharing a media release, preface the title with a “Guess what’s happening?” sentence. When you post an event on Twitter, add a few words to grab the attention of your reader like “Hot topic” or “Check out this line-up of speakers”.  Readers soon get the idea they’re dealing with real people, not just a talking head. Once you have their attention, the conversation really begins.

Sarah Mitchell is Director – Site Content at AMMA She frequently writes and speaks on the broad topics of social media and content marketing. You can reach her at