Five Ways to Leverage the Social Media Conversation at Your Next Conference
Your eyes begin to glaze over as the one-thousandth slide about [insert industry buzz word] flashes on the screen. The other members of the panel and your fellow conference goers are equally bored to tears, except for the “live-twitterfacebooking” guy in the back who is feverously typing away on his mobile device.
You think to yourself, “What a waste of time. The real action is right here in the room. I’m going to network and set up a power lunch.” But after the session you see “live-twitterfacebooking” guy talking to the presenter and they seem to be walking towards the hotel bar. You try to catch up but you know you’ve been out matched by the guy who leveraged social media to win your seat at the power lunch.
It’s time to level the playing field. Here are the five things you can do to make sure you are fully leveraging social media at your industry conference.
Make social media conference goals
Industry conferences and events are great places to:
- Discover emerging trends;
- Network with industry professionals; and
- Engage with potential customers.
Your social media efforts should be focused on one or more of these areas. If you are interested in “what’s next,” you should follow conference speakers and panelist who are thought leaders in the field. This will allow you to know what conversations they are engaged in and it will provide insight into emerging industry trends.
If you are interested in networking with your fellow industry players follow conference attendees aggressively. As you watch the social media streams look for conference mentions and follow users who are talking about the event.
If your goal is to engage with potential customers make sure they know how to find you on social networks. Advertise your social media accounts at your booth and in every interaction you have with potential customers.
The speed and efficiency of posting on social networks means that you will be able to double or triple up on these social media conference goals especially if you…
Do your homework
Know who’s who and what’s what before you hit the registration table. The earlier you know who to follow the faster you will be about to engage in the social media conversations that are taking place at the conference.
Depending on the size and reach of the industry conference you are planning to attend there will be a robust conversation about the conference long before the show begins. For example, the social media team for the Society of Human Resource Managers hosted a tweet up for conference attendees two weeks prior to their annual conference. Attending pre-conference events like these or just searching social networks prior to the conference will help you:
- Discover the conference hashtags so you can engage the social media conversation;
- Determine who the social media influencers are so you can follow, retweet and like them and;
- Start to follow the buzz about the best sessions, exhibits and activities so you know where to be to get the most out of the conference.
As you can see there are a number of conference social media activities to keep track of so it’s a good idea to…
When you share conference social media tasks with your colleagues you can:
- Create multiple perspectives that will provide deeper insights and help grow your audience;
- Increase message reach by sharing, liking and commenting on your colleagues messages; and
- Monitor the social media conversation even while you are attending sessions and having power lunches.
If you have the luxury of having multiple colleagues attend the conference make sure you are all using social media during the event. CxOs have different prospectives than the marketing managers and each will help increase your social media footprint by attracting different audiences to your conversation.
Your social media messages become relevant when other people share, like or comment on them. You can jump start this process by making it a habit to respond to your colleague’s messages. Each message will have a broader reach and have a greater impact.
Face-to-face interaction is the primary benefit of attending an industry conference so you will need to look up from your mobile device to learn from conference speakers and engage in actual conversations. However, the social media conversation will still be churning along so it’s important to have someone in headquarters monitoring the conference. If you’ve done your homework, this staff member will know exactly how to find the conference social media conversation and how to engage in that conversation.
Now that you and your team have a clear set of goals, you have done your homework and your entire team is ready to contribute you can…
Engage the conversation
You should be in the business of sharing, liking and commenting on any conference related message that aligns with your conference goals. This will signal to social media savvy conference attendees that you are an integral part of the social media conversation and they will begin to share, like and comment on your messages. Now you will be in a position to start a two-way conversation.
You can foster this dialog by acknowledging messages that mention you or your team and by responding directly to people who reach out to you. Two-way communication will help you…
Make real-life connections
Making the transition from online connections to real-life meetings is the proof that you are effectively leveraging social media at your conference. Broker meetings directly through the social media platforms you are using so you can turn retweets into face-to-face meets and influencers into power lunch dates.