How To Utilize Social Media When Planning an Event

Nascar using Twitter to generate buzz about a race.

Nascar using Twitter to generate buzz about a race.

Whether you’re planning a small local conference or you specialize in international events, learning how to use social media to generate buzz around your projects is a good idea. Event management services can help you to ensure that registration goes smoothly, the entertainment is good, and the food top-notch, but what really makes or breaks an event is the level of interest generated by the attendees. If no-one talks about your event (or talks at the event, for that matter), then it’s unlikely that people will come back for a second year.

Take Advantage of People’s Need to Share

Most people love to talk about the events they go to; especially international events. A casual check-in at Las Vegas Convention Center, Earl’s Court in London, or Koln Messe in Germany is a great way to show off to your friends, and a nice memento of your time in a foreign city.

You can take advantage of this desire to share everything and log trips by being pro-active about managing your presence on geo-location enabled social networking sites. Create a spot on Facebook, and add your event to Foursquare with a few tips for attendees – whether that’s “Check out the Crepe stand in Hall 5” or “Be sure to stick around for the networking ball at 5PM with free drinks!”, people will appreciate the tips.

Nominate a Hashtag

While the usual advice for social media is that trying to control what people say, and what hashtags they use for your brand, is a bad idea, but this doesn’t apply to events. If you’ve ever followed a large conference, you’ll probably have noticed that the first hour or so is full of people asking what the official hashtag is. This means that anything really interesting that gets talked about in the first hour or two (such as the amazing opening keynote) gets lost in all the noise.

If you want to avoid confusion, nominate a hashtag well in advance, and include it in all the literature that you send out. If you want to make absolutely sure that people know what to use in their tweets, list the hashtag next to the WiFi login details – that way you can be sure everyone will notice it.

Respond to the Buzz

Make sure that you have someone in your event management services team whose job it is to keep the conversation going among attendees and spectators. Have that person retweet interesting messages, answer questions, post on the Facebook page, and upload pictures to Flickr and Twitpic. If you have a Pinterest page, have them use that too.

A lot of social media users don’t have the time to follow a busy event hashtag, but they might follow the event’s official Twitter feed, so if you retweet interesting messages, they’ll appreciate it, and may decide that they missed out on a great event this year, so they want to attend next year.

Try to remember that what’s interesting to an attendee isn’t necessarily interesting to a remote spectator. “The CEO of Widgets International will be on stage in 5 mins” is useless information to someone who isn’t at the event, but a tweet with some profound words of wisdom from that CEO will have people wishing they were there to hear it live.

What techniques do you do to generate buzz about an upcoming event? What are the most effective methods to keep attendees interested once they are at your event? Share your experiences with us in the comments!

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of AMA Events who provide events management services for international and UK based events.

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