Summer might mean vacation time for many, but for event organizers it's the busy season leading up to fall conferences. With many b-to-b companies making forays into social media, conference season is a great time to put all your social promotional tools together. Here are 10 ways you can use social media to further awareness, track search engines and set the stage for future events.
- Start with a hashtag. Stake out your version of #MyEvent2013 and use it on all promotional, registration and program material. Hashtags are useful at every stage. Use them to share news and generate anticipation before the conference begins. Encourage attendees to share experiences during the event. Afterward, keep the conversation going using the event hashtag to get people excited about next year's conference.
- Create an event-specific Twitter account. Include the handle on all promotional and program material, and use the account to follow speakers, sponsors and registrants. Schedule tweets to go out several times during the day, including after-hours for the overseas audience.
- Create a private LinkedIn group. Make this for both attendees and speakers. Seed it with discussion-starters that relate to the content. More important, the group can give you a way to contact attendees for future recruitment.
- Create a blog on the event site. Use it to post quick updates about program developments, new sponsors and the like. Invite speakers to contribute, or conduct quick email Q&A interviews with those speakers and post them there. Tweet all new content.
- Create website badges. These should include discount codes that speakers, employees and sponsors can easily embed on their blogs and sites. Make it easy. Send snippets of HTML code that can be copied and pasted into a Web page or template.
- Creative a photo tag for attendees. These can be used when attendees post pictures to Flickr, Instagram, Vine or other media-sharing services. You can search for that tag to create virtual albums composed of photos taken by your guests.
- Create event channels on SlideShare and YouTube. Post slide decks from earlier conferences and presentations. Gather as many presentations as you can and post them on SlideShare as a drip feed. Write thorough descriptions, and be sure to tag each media item. Point to your event site from the SlideShare and YouTube profile pages. Embed any media you post on the event website.
- Compose suggested promotional tweets. Share these broadly with speakers and organizers, and make it simple for people to tell others about your conference. Optional: Use custom bit.ly short codes to track responses.
- Set up a makeshift TV studio. You can do this for about $1,000 right on the show floor. All you need is a camera, a couple of wired microphones and front and side lights. Use it to record on-the-spot interviews with speakers and testimonials by attendees. Post the videos to YouTube. If you're ambitious (and you have the bandwidth), consider live-streaming some of your interviews.
- Aggregate media/blogger coverage. You can do this on a special page. Post updates daily, and be sure to tweet them as well. Add a Twitter widget to the page to display a continuous feed of mentions of your hashtag
Maybe you're wondering why you should take all the hard work you do in preparing a conference and give it away for free. If you need convincing, just search for “conference” on YouTube and look at how many organizers have done exactly that. Your content is the best promotion for future events. Share it liberally.
Paul Gillin (gillin.com) is an Internet marketing consultant and the author of three books about social media. He also writes the New Channels column in BtoB. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.