In the first part of the BootCamp we talked about the four technologies that will shape the Tradeshow and Events industry: Social Media, Mobile, Video and Innovation management.
Social Media is by far the most mature technology amoung these four. With Facebook well over 600 million users, and tweets posted at a rate of thousands a second, Yelp reviews driving your preference for dinner, social media is completely part of the fabric of the events.
However, with so many technologies, what is one event planner to do to determine the most effective use of social media. As we look at the set of tools, which one do you use.
In order to simplify the toolbelt discussion, I structured the tools by time to the Conference start. So, what do you do a month to two months before your event starts? You Engage. That is the focus.
Activity 1: Six weeks before the Conference, start an Idea Challenge
Three steps to a great engagement:
- 1. Launch an Idea Challenge: Identify a wicked problem for the event, and Launch a challenge towards the participants. Use a platform for managing the idea challenge, one that can manage through a lot of ideas, allows participants to vote on each other ideas, follow each other, creates alerts when your ideas gets comments.
- 2. Make it real: Get a sponsor to offer a real prize to the participants for the best idea, as voted by others. For 2011 the hot item was an iPad, or a Kinect set. Reserve the top three idea awards for the Keynote, or for the first night reception. Will make a great community moment. If the platform you used shows the Top 10 scoreboard for the ideas, make that a larger than life poster.
- 3. Engage: Send out periodic updates to all, to catalyze the ideas and the engagement. Attendees are busy, so bringing them back with some stats will re-ignite the innovative flow.
Activity 2: Four to Six weeks before the Conference, share the Mobile App for the Conference and ask participants to start create their calendars
The Mobile App for the Conference is not something that you share the day the Conference starts. The app is the platform for the attendees to start engaging with the event a few weeks:
- 1. look at the agenda topics and subscribe to meetings that will be attending, creating a personal calendar
- 2. follow other participants via the app, and also start creating the mashup of the event social network via Twitter follows and LinkedIn connections
- 3. get alerts and Twitter messages for the event
- 4. get “Matchmaker” invites to exhibitors and other topics, based on their early interests
- 5. vote on choices around evening activities (“Demo Night” or “Featured Speaker?”) via the app
Watchout : When sending the app out, ensure you have a solid agenda, speaker profiles and the beginning of the deck of materials. You don’t want to send out just an empty shell – nobody likes to be the first in an empty restaurant for the dinner. Your social media consultant will know how to seed with just enough info to start the engagement. Engaging the speakers at this time is critical – each speaker wants to have the best presentation for the event, so allowing them to share the social media contacts, and have a poll on hot topics will be a great move.
Activity 3: Four to Six weeks before the Conference, share the Facebook Event page the Conference or Tradeshow, and ask participants to confirm their attendance
There are several tools for creating an event on social media. Facebook is by far the most popular – we see 80% of our business for event presence in social media done there. However, Upcoming Yahoo Events is a popular tool, together with Eventbrite and LinkedIn Events.