It’s like the sound of fingernails scraping on a chalkboard. It’s unpleasant. And annoying.
It similar to a primate’s warning cry striking fear in the tribe that a predator is near. Few of us can avoid cringing in agony when we hear that sound. We respond with adverse reactions.
That’s exactly how I feel when I hear meeting professionals say the following sentence:
“My attendees are not using Twitter or social media so I don’t need to be concerned about it.”
A-r-g-h-h-h! Just hold me down and scrape rocks on my teeth.
When I respond to that question with current data that illustrates the opposite, these meeting professionals look at me and say, “Do you really believe that data? Come on. I know my attendees better than that data. They are not using social media at my event.”
How Many Of Your Conference Participants Have Smartphones?
How many of your attendees carry a smartphone with them? I suspect you would say 90%-95% do.
And guess what, they are using their smartphone to access the Internet, update their social networks and talk about your event!
So are you even listening and observing if they are talking about your event? Have you created a common hashtag for your event so that you can see online conference conversations?
Here are six steps to help you use Twitter when preparing for your event.
6 Steps To Prepare To Use Twitter For Your Event
1. Provide wireless Internet connections
Before you consider using Twitter or other social media at your event, ensure that your attendees have free wifi access when onsite. Did you include wireless internet access as part of your venue negotiations? If not, how’s the cell phone reception in the venue? Tell your venue that they have a vested interest in being part of the online conversations.
2. Create a hashtag for your event.
Hashtags are the pound sign followed by a short abbreviation. They help add context, metadata and tags to your tweets. Hashtags also help users filter the Twitter noise and follow a specific stream of information.
Your job is to pick a short conference hashtag. Use as few characters as possible because Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters.
ASAE’s 2010 Annual Meeting used #asae10 as their hashtag. PNW Industry Summit used #industrysummit.
Also search Twitter to ensure that another group is not using the same hashtag.
3. Register your event hashtag.
Now register your hashtag. Follow @hashtags on Twitter. They will follow you back automatically and your hashtags will be tracked. Send them a tweet with your hashtag and its definition.
While you don’t have to officially register your hashtag, listing it on these sites will help viewers find and define it.
4. Ask for Twitter handles in the registration process and print them on their name badges.
If you are going to use Twitter for your event, don’t forget this basic step. Include a place for attendees to list their Twitter handle/URL on your registration form. Then print the @name on their nametags.
5. Market and promote your hashtag.
Include the hashtag on all of your marketing and publicity materials. This lets your audience know that you are encouraging the use of social media and an event backchannel. Include it on conference signage, on nametags, programs, smartphone apps, conference bags, etc. Add a widget to your event website that displays the latest twitter stream.
6. Use same hashtag for Flickr.
Use the same hashtag for any photos your participants upload to Flickr. Create a Flickr Conference page and encourage attendees to load their photos there.
Up next: A Twitter Conference Primer: Part 2 – Marketing And Engagement
What other steps would you add to this Twitter Primer Part 1 on preparing to use Twitter for your event?