Traditional conferences versus social conferences. Which will you plan this year?
Not sure about the “Social Conference?” Read this post on “Screw Your Event Resolutions. Do You Conference Social?”
Here are six things to consider when planning the Social Conference so you don’t get caught with your social pants down.
1. In this new information landscape, your conference is not for a passive audience but an engaged community.
No conference attendees in history have been more thoroughly prepared for the industrial revolution than today’s participants. This is a major fail whale. They need to be prepared for the service and creative revolution. (Read more about the creative and service sectors.)
2. Your conference community is hyper-connected.
Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Mobile Applications. Your conference attendees are going to talk about your event in person and online whether you want them to or not. Be social and engage with them before, during and after the event. Don’t control them, join them.
3. Each of your conference attendees has a voice, a platform to amplify that voice and followers that listen.
They can find each other, share, collaborate and connect. They will write a review of how your group rates are higher than what they found online, your sessions, your AV, your food, your content, your venue, your parties, your speakers, your registration process. Good or bad, expect it. And they will be brutally honest with their reviews. Encourage it. Use it to improve the future event. Incentivize it. Be transparent and respond to it. Make real-time changes because of it. Don’t ignore it.
4. The conference interaction has moved from a monologue to dialogue to polylogue (many voices speaking at the same time.)
Stop trying to control the conversation. You can’t. But you can help steer it and ask invaluable questions to guide it. As Samuel J. Smith says, “The gap between the experts on stage and the attendees in the audience has never been smaller.” Include questions and opportunities for experienced attendees to share what they know as well.
5. Potential and registered conference attendees expect conference organizers to find them, in the social media platforms they use.
It used to be that conference organizers expected attendees to find the conference on the Web. That’s shifted. Potential and registered attendees want to connect with you on their terms in the social media platform of their choice. Let your attendees self-identify their own favorites by giving them all the choices. Consider customizing the message for each platform. Don’t just duplicate the same message and post in multiple places. (Don’t think this is for you? Think again. See how younger people expect news to come to them (not on CNN or daily papers) and how they are conduits for info-sharing.)
6. Create an atmosphere of belonging and acceptance while encouraging attendees to share their experiences with others.
Think about your recent gathering of family or friends. You had a great time. Lots of pictures were taken and you woke up to realize you hade been tagged in Facebook. Your whole network knows about it. Capture that type of experience and encourage it at your meetings and events.
This is sneaking up on most association, event and conference professionals. Don’t be caught with your social pants down, high jacked by your conference audience. Plan now for the new social conference revolution.
What tips do you have to help plan for and embrace this revolution?