Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Conferences and social media

I recently had an opportunity to participate from afar at a conference. No, I didn't actually travel to the conference but I was trying to use social media to see what was going on for those attending the conference. I found a number of things that were both good and bad about how the social media was used by the conference accounts. I am going to comment on Facebook and Twitter usage because that is what I was using to look at the conference.

Twitter – It was used just to re-post the same items that were being posted on Facebook. Twitter wasn't used to help people figure out what sessions were being hi-lighted until after the session was underway or in some cases finished. Maybe twitter could have been used to hi-light some of the times for Keynotes and such just prior to the sessions so it was a reminder to those attending. For someone attending trying to follow the Twitter feed it was next to useless. If you are going to be on Twitter, BE on Twitter don't just use it as a re-post location.

Facebook – this is the one where I am going to have the most to say because this is where I was seeing some of the things.

Need improvement:
  1.  A lot of the pictures were about the fun activities that were happening and not a lot of what the conference was about. The conference was an IT conference so I would have been making sure that the sessions and networking should have been a key part of what was being shown. I was extremely upset seeing all the partying and not much else, when our employee was losing 5 days of being billable to be at the conference. 
  2.  Posts to page – this was used in the side panel so it was very difficult to see what others were saying about the event. Possibly as a result not a lot of activity in the posts to page other than the goodies that could be won through various activities.
  3.  Use quotes from attendees to help show the value of the conference. What were some of the takeaways? What did you learn? Have someone who's focus is to try and gather comments from attendees about their experiences. 
  4.  Show people in the various sessions more to show that sessions and networking were the key part of the event.
  5.  Pictures – maybe show some of the layout for meals to show what was being offered to the attendees. Also try and get some of the booths with people around them instead of very empty booths. 
  6.  Collecting success stories – don't tell me you are collecting them and not summarizing any of them. Very high level would have helped get attention. This doesn't make me want to follow-up on this topic. If you weren't going o quickly followup within Facebook, don't bother mentioning it in Facebook.

A good start....
  1. Sessions – the first day of the conference was hi-lighted through pictures of the keynote and even pictures after some of the sessions but then it stopped and it then shifted to just the fun activities that were the extras. I was really happy about the posting on the first day as it gave me a feeling of what really was happening, at the keynote and during the day. This is very valuable to assist in marketing the event for upcoming years. Coordinate with scheduling to get pictures of high attendance sessions and pictures from front into audience at keynotes.
  2.  Highlighting some of the networking was great because it shows it is not just all work but sessions and networking should be the focus instead of the parties and other activities. This could have been done more to show groups together talking.
If a conference is going to use social media to help show what the event was like they should be ensuring that the key importance of the event is be front and centre. The free t-shirt give aways and things like that are extra and not what the conference is focused on. The conference had a clear mandate stated in the keynotes of Learn, Network and have some fun in that clear order of priority. The event's social media during the event showed a reversed priority.

Social media is a great means of communicating about an event and the value of the event. Why would I spend x dollars to attend or how would I convince my company to spend the money to send me and allow me the time out of the office? So many companies are cutting back on employees attending conferences because of the financial cost as well as the manpower costs. Social media could be used to show the wins that companies can get by incurring the costs at least hint at a positive ROI.

If social media was used better to show what benefits a conference can have it may assist in companies being willing to spend the funds. If an event is showing only all the fun and games it doesn't help sell it for the next time.

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