I recently read a fantastic article by Bernie Mitchell entitled, “5 Ways to Break the Ice with Social Media at Events,” which talked about how meeting and event professionals can get attendees to network and “break the ice” before the conference with social media.
In short, Mitchell suggested:
- Creating a unique Twitter hashtag and promote retweeting
- Recording speaker video interviews or a podcast and write blog posts
- Collecting attendee Twitter handles and reach out individually
- Asking questions on Twitter to get attendees engaged and interacting
- Making sure attendees know about the hashtag before the conference
Yes! I couldn’t have put it better myself, but I do think we’re missing a #6, which might make 1-5 a little easier.
6. Create an online event community for attendees to network.
Online event communities are the one stop shop for all your attendees’ conference needs. Give your attendees (and speakers, sponsors and exhibitors) an online hub where they can create user profiles, develop their personal conference itineraries and connect with other attendees who are scheduled for the same sessions. Then, post the conference final program and session handouts onto the branded homepage of the event community next to your Twitter wall and blog posts, and there you have it– a one-stop social media shop!
Online Event Communities – Help Attendees Avoid the Awkward Silence
Social media has been a gift to meeting planners and attendees alike. Social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook have provided attendees a virtual place to get the introductions out of the way. Attendees no longer need to go into an annual conference not knowing anyone (which is a blessing if you’re anything like me and a little shy). Plus, this increases the quality of conversations at the actual meeting, allowing attendees to get right into the conference content.
Not sure if an online event community is exactly what your association is looking for, but you still want a place to put speaker presentations or proceedings online? Read here to find the right place to put conference materials online.