Revamping Your Conference Social Media Strategy

Day 15--Frustration

Are you bald yet from pulling your hair out dealing with recent social medial platform changes?

Or perhaps you’ve spent all afternoon biting your nails wondering how to adapt your conference social media strategy to the platform changes.

Social Media Platform Changes Yet Again

In the past few months, Facebook has dramatically changed how company page posts appear in our newsfeed. Organic post reach and engagement have dramatically declined. Unless your organization ponies up for paid posts.

Then there’s LinkedIn, which announced that as of last month, “Company Pages Products & Services Page – No Longer Supported.”

Let’s face it, things won’t be the same now that these behemoth social platforms are public companies. They have a lot of shareholders to answer to now.

Four Social Media Conference Strategy Tips

So what’s a conference marketer to do? Here are four ideas to consider. That is, until they move our cheese again.

1. Invest in a conference or organization blog.

Over the past few years, there has been a huge shift from traditional to inbound marketing. A blog is arguably the best medium to align with this shift. It serves as the hub of your social-media strategy and, if configured correctly, is something you own and control. Social channels like Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook serve as spokes (or outposts) to your blog hub. Blogs also dramatically improve your organization’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

2. Consider creating an eCommunity platform

Consider an eCommunity platform that is a visual listservs that you own and control. In most cases, eCommunities are private and available to members or conference registrants only. This kind of digital-community technology has advanced dramatically and platform prices are very reasonable. If you go down this road, you need one heck of a good community-management strategy and ongoing moderation efforts. Unfortunately, the majority of e-communities that I’ve seen are ghost towns — and that’s why the care and feeding of your community is more important than the platform you choose.

3. Decide whether you’ll use private or public social media.

As of today, LinkedIn and Facebook groups are still free and a viable social-media option. Over the past few years, many LinkedIn groups have made the switch from private to public, dramatically growing their subscription base. My guess is that these groups will be okay for the foreseeable future. Individual users won’t complain as much about not seeing company listings in their feeds as they will about groups that they’ve joined. Key to your success will be to make these safe places that are helpful and not platforms for individuals pitching their products and services. Moving forward, I think we’ll see more private groups on these two platforms.

4. Test the waters with paid posts.

Experiment with paid posts on social platforms that your industry frequents. Promotional posts are less likely to perform well. Posts from an individual that include rich media, are helpful, entertaining, and/or align with a big industry challenge will have the best engagement and reach.

What other changes have you made to your conference social media strategy? What tips have you learned from experience?

Adapted from Dave’s Forward Thinking column in PCMA’s Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. ©2014.

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  1. Agree completely, Dave. Conference marketers need to use a mix of owned, earned and paid media. And with owned media, nothing beats a blog and a branded, online community. For association events, an online community solves two needs:

    1) A vehicle for ongoing, year-round member engagement and;
    2) A central destination for organizing (and establishing connections for) the annual conference and regional meetings.

    I’ve worked with an association (SIOP) who deployed an online community for these very reasons.

    1. Dave Lutz says:

      Thanks for the comment Dennis. We’re seeing lots of mixed results on the branded community play. It seems that most have a build it and they will come strategy. They’re not coming. A well thought out roll out plan that layers in various segments one at a time seems to work best. Ongoing care, feeding and moderation is a big investment, but can pay off…just ask this CEO –

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