Contrary to predictions that the Internet would kill the live event, what social media and the ubiquity of the Web actually did was break down the isolation of the conference center, enabling marketers to extend the long-term impact of their investments.
Aneta Hall and Lucy Hackman of Pitney Bowes showed how to extend the impact of events, particularly for B2B marketing, during their presentation, “Events 2.0,” at the Digital Marketing Forum today. Despite admitting they were “late adopters” of social media, Lucy and Aneta have quickly caught up.
Below are 5 excellent tips that I culled from their presentation for maximizing social media to boost engagement around your event.
1. Plan Ahead
If you want to get conversations started before an event (and keep them going after), make sure you connect early and often with your partners. You want to know what their social media strategy is. In some cases, this might require “some hand-holding,” Aneta said, because your partners might not have a cohesive strategy in place. If that’s the case, take the lead.
You also want to prepare an editorial calendar of sorts. Determine who will own your Twitter handle beforehand to avoid embarrassing overlaps. TweetDeck and Hoot Suite allow you to schedule tweets in advance. But remember to allow for some spontaneity.
2. Do Your Research
Who are the people attending the event? If there are joiners, you want to investigate what online communities they are involved with and join in. If they are critics, you want to listen in on their commentary and try to turn negative comments into positive outcomes. If they are content creators and curators, give them backstage access, and invite them to your booth. Try to be involved in the content they are pushing out to their followers.
You want to walk into an event with a thorough knowledge of the sluggers. Free tools, such as Klout, Technorati, Social Mention, and LinkedIn, can be a big help in your research process.
3. Know Your Resources
Beyond the number of bodies you plan to have on the floor of the event, you will want to look at what skill sets are represented. Your CEO might be attending---but may not be the best blogger. Identify the people you have in place who have the natural knack or the training to blog, tweet, and push out content to online communities. (Ideally, you have a people who have both training and talent.)
Pitney Bowes hired a videographer for events and equipped that person with a mobile studio. Today, those tools are not that costly (great editing software is available on your laptop). Equipping your employees with the right tools enables them to push out content in real time and creates storehouse of content to use post-event.
4. Get Away From the Noise
Pitney Bowes doesn’t do all of its tweeting and commenting from the event. Sometimes,, they do it back at the office. For really strategic messaging a healthy distance from the crowds, booths and gimmicks can be clarifying. Additionally, do your research of how others are leveraging social media not by attending the event, but by sitting down and watching what your competitors do around their own events. After all, a hashtag is easy to follow.
5. Avoid the Data Dump
A lot of times we feel the urge to take all the great data we collected after an event and dump it into a spreadsheet. But the reality is most people won’t be able to make sense of that data, Aneta said.
Instead, tell a story. Give your numbers context. Wrap your data on generated messaging and page views into an explanation of the exposure earned. Take the number of people who visited your online store, filled out lead forms, and commented on your blogs, and turn it into a narrative about the action you incited. Don’t orphan your valuable data by just dropping it into a spreadsheet.