Mak­ing the most of so­cial me­dia be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter your con­ven­tion

Alberta Venture - - Contents -

Mak­ing the most of so­cial me­dia be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter your con­ven­tion

One of the defin­ing traits of so­cial me­dia is how tem­po­rary it is – a tweet that goes vi­ral on Mon­day is for­got­ten by Tues­day.

But the flip­side to that is how per­ma­nent it all is. Ev­ery­thing, all those fleet­ing in­di­vid­ual mo­ments, is ac­cu­mu­lated into a vast ar­chive of your­self that you can never truly scrub clean.

How does this re­late to con­ven­tion plan­ning? Eryne Sara­bin, the owner of Ty­coon Event Plan­ning and Pro­mo­tions in Cal­gary, has been work­ing in the events and mar­ket­ing in­dus­tries for 12 years, and founded Ty­coon when she felt there was a “nat­u­ral bridge” be­tween events and mar­ket­ing. And she says un­der­stand­ing this para­dox of so­cial me­dia – that it’s tem­po­rary and per­ma­nent – can be a huge as­set. You have to be able to use so­cial me­dia to its fullest in all these in­di­vid­ual mo­ments be­fore and dur­ing the event, she claims, but pos­ter­ity is just as im­por­tant.

Let’s start with what you can do be­fore your con­ven­tion. So­cial me­dia is cru­cial for un­der­stand­ing your au­di­ence. “Value is crit­i­cal to me and my busi­ness, and ev­ery dol­lar I spend has to make sense,” Sara­bin says. “So one of the things that’s im­por­tant is un­der­stand­ing the value of peo­ple’s time – ev­ery­one wants to do some­thing dif­fer­ently, but also, ev­ery­thing has been done be­fore.” If you’re plan­ning a trade show, for ex­am­ple, you need to look at how your au­di­ence com­mu­ni­cates and how you can cre­ate value for them. By read­ing what your au­di­ence has to say, you can get a bet­ter sense of what kind of event would truly have value for

them. Maybe you’re plan­ning a trade show that would ex­hibit some of Al­berta’s best craft brew­eries; div­ing into the craft-brewer Twit­ter­sphere might show you that the mar­ket for these kinds of trade shows is al­ready over-sat­u­rated, but that there’s a mar­ket for a trade show for home-brew­ery equip­ment.

Once your event is booked, Sara­bin says, “so­cial me­dia is a great out­let for let­ting peo­ple know what to ex­pect.”

So­cial me­dia re­quires you to be suc­cinct and di­rect, which is ac­tu­ally an in­cred­i­bly ef­fec­tive way to present in­for­ma­tion about your event. Just as Twit­ter forces you to carve your thoughts into a puny 140 char­ac­ters, so­cial me­dia makes you re­fine how you sell your event. Think about what’s im­por­tant to your guests: they need to know who the key­note is, but they also need to know what time it starts, how long they’ll have un­til din­ner and other, sim­i­lar details. This, too, is where

know­ing your au­di­ence comes in handy. Mar­ket­ing has to be done in a “thought­ful, di­rect and cre­ative way,” Sara­bin says. If you’re aim­ing for an older de­mo­graphic, maybe Twit­ter isn’t the best plat­form to ad­ver­tise on, just like LinkedIn might not be best for a younger one. She adds that for net­work­ing events, in par­tic­u­lar, the dif­fer­ence be­tween a throw­away event and a cru­cial one can be com­mu­ni­cated di­rectly to your au­di­ence. “Net­work­ing events are a dime a dozen, and com­mu­ni­cat­ing to peo­ple who [they can ex­pect to see] in the room is of­ten the de­cid­ing fac­tor,” she says.

Now comes the fun part. You have plenty of op­tions for how to use so­cial me­dia dur­ing your con­ven­tion, but fo­cus on ­qual­ity over quan­tity. “Gone are the days of us­ing the same old photo booth,” Sara­bin says. “Ev­ery­one wants more of an in­di­vid­u­al­ized, cus­tom­ized ex­pe­ri­ence.”

She pre­dicts that live tweet walls, for ex­am­ple – where a ­con­tin­u­ous se­ries of tweets, con­nected with a hash­tag, are broad­cast to the room – likely won’t be as pop­u­lar in the com­ing years. Hash­tag mail­boxes – where pho­tos con­nected with the event’s hash­tag are printed off like post­cards – will prob­a­bly rise in pop­u­lar­ity. The key is un­der­stand­ing what type of so­cial me­dia your au­di­ence uses, and max­i­miz­ing its po­ten­tial.

But there’s an­other trend in so­cial me­dia for events, too: com­pa­nies like Ty­coon used to pro­vide on-site so­cial me­dia ser­vices, but since so­cial me­dia has be­come more in­te­gral to com­pa­nies, in many cases they now have to work with the other com­pa­nies’ mar­ket­ing teams. This is a good thing: event plan­ners “should ad­vo­cate to work with the com­pany,” Sara­bin says, and get the best of both worlds.

Your so­cial me­dia obli­ga­tions don’t end there, how­ever. “So­cial me­dia is great for cap­tur­ing mo­ments and im­ages, and it’s pow­er­ful for peo­ple who aren’t at the event to see what to ex­pect next year,” Sara­bin says. “Rather than fo­cus­ing on just the here and now, think of what the story looks like for new, prospec­tive guests.” Sure, that’s a lot to worry about, but the up­side is huge. Since so­cial me­dia means noth­ing is per­ma­nent, but noth­ing is tem­po­rary, ei­ther, you might as well make it work for your con­ven­tion.

“Net­work­ing events are a dime a dozen, and commu­nicat­ing to peo­ple who [they can ex­pect to see] in the room is of­ten the de­cid­ing fac­tor.”

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