I love all aspect of events including concept development, community building, marketing, monetizing, praying for butts-in-seats, production, and sometimes it’s great just being an attendee. Making events social media friendly adds a new depth of experience for attendees, naturally develops a community environment. Attending an event without a hashtag associated with it after experiencing this new dimension is like watching black and white TV on a tube with no remote. I’m spoiled on HD.
Why is this social media integrated event experience generally only found at the new media and technology world of events like BarCamps, PodCamps, Tweetups, PubCon, IZEAfest, Blog World, etc.? Is it not for everyone? It may not be. Some events may not be able to withstand the scrutiny of a live audience with a participating voice. Think infomercial. There are other organizations that are not ready to pass through the veil of accountability and interact with their audience outside of their customer service department. Is this fear of exposure? Fear of accountability? Probably both. I will post more on this later.
So, for those event organizers who are ready to develop deeper, transparent, and authentic relationships with their attendees here are some keys that I believe are necessary.
- Foster online conversations between attendees, prospective attendees, and sponsors before the event starts.
- Set and announce an official #hashtag to use on Twitter for the event. Include the hashtag in the promotional materials and all event communications.
- Provide reliable and free WiFi internet access. It’s a must have! Just by promoting that free WiFi will be available could drive additional attendance.
- Power outlets and extension cords. Have a concierge attitude. A perfect world would include an outlet for every seat. I have been to two events this year that mastered this.
- Tables and chairs. Comfortable attendees are happy attendees.
- Provide an easy-to-find and informative list of “What to Bring” to the event. Make sure this list includes “your laptop” and that free WiFi will be provided.
- Have your MC invite the attendees to blog and tweet about the event and that they are welcome to do so during the event. Make this announcement from stage and share the Twitter hashtag.
- When announcing each speaker announce their Twitter @profile name and display it on projection screens.
- At the event have a projector screen dedicated to displaying a live Twitter feed of the event hashtag.
Here are a few extras:
- Promote a few informal Tweetups surrounding the event.
- Provide speakers’ Twitter @profile names on all promotional materials.
- Provide a blog-roll and Twitter @profile list of all sponsors, speakers, and attendees.
- Stream a live video feed and chat room for the event.
- Take live questions from Twitter for Q&A sessions.
- Twitter games (These could be interesting):
- Twitter Trivia: MC presents a question. First audience member that Tweets correct answer along with the event hashtag wins.
- Twitter Race: MC picks 5 Twitter @profiles who have been using the hashtag and Tweets them live from stage. The first one to reach the stage wins.
- Twitter Meet: MC picks 4 Twitter @profiles who have been using the hashtag and Tweets them live from stage. The first two that reach each other both win.
What do you think? What are some of the social media friendly events that you have attended? What non-friendly events have you attended that missed a great opportunity?