One of the easiest ways to grow your following as an industry expert quickly is through leveraging social networks, specifically Twitter and Instagram, during major industry events. Are you a member of an association? Whether you’re a newbie or an association veteran, leveraging hashtags can quickly turn you into the event’s superstar.
Older, more established associations are struggling to get members involved with social media. Yet, they are being pushed into the digital age by innovative members and those who understand that the key to staying vital is engaging new young members by communicating with them via popular social networks. However, these associations typically lack the budget to hire a social media manager or the internal know-how to kick off a social media campaign for their annual conferences and other events. Also, many members (excluding those in technology-based industries) lack the knowledge or desire to help their associations expand their social media reach.
This is where you come in.
Five steps for leveraging social media at events
- Identify the conference hash tag. Look on the event website and marketing materials for a hashtag. If you cannot locate a hashtag, ask the organizers to create one or offer to do it yourself. Then, perform a Twitter search for the name of the event and begin tweeting everyone who mentioned the event the new hashtag.
- Start conversations with attendees one month before the event starts, being sure to always use the hashtag. Offer new attendees advice on travel, navigating the event, and tips that you would find valuable as a new attendee. Connect with past attendees. Retweet important updates from the organizers’/organization’s Twitter accounts. Be sure to respond when the organization asks questions or for feedback. Tweet the speakers and post links to their writings/blogs for other attendees. In short, provide value for everyone and take on the roll of an honorary host.
- Document the experience of the event through pictures and post them to Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag. The one thing organizations cannot do is post through the eyes of attendees—they need you for that. Sharing pictures from your flight (with conference marketing materials strategically included in the shot), checking into the host hotel, going through event registration, speakers on stage, etc. are great ways to help the organization document the “mood” of the event. Be sure to tag the organization and anyone else pictured in your images.
- Live tweet adding commentary. No, I am not suggesting that you take on the personas of the two old guys from The Muppet Show. Rather, add helpful tidbits or links to additional reading. If you know of a book that expounds on a point made by a speaker, quote the speaker in a tweet and add “additional resource” with a link to resource online or to purchase a book. Occasionally you can post a link to your own blog or resource if it makes sense.
- Create a David Letterman-like top ten list outlining your favorite parts of the conference or top ten takeaways. Create a separate tweet for each one on Twitter or a separate text image for each via Instagram.