Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

Best Examples of Social Media

by By the Editors of Convene | Aug 06, 2013


More than 2,000 preservationists and history buffs flooded Spokane, Wash., last fall for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Preservation Conference, held Oct. 31-Nov. 3 at the Spokane Convention Center. “During the conference,” said attendee Raina Regan, “using Twitter and the hashtag #presconf was a great way to follow along with tours and education sessions I was unable to attend. This also gave me a clue [to] places I might not have discovered yet and I should check out.

“I also used Twitter to connect with attendees I might not have met in random passing at the conference,” Regan said. “I participate in the monthly #builtheritage Twitter chats, but there was a real-life tweetup the first night of the conference that was great for connecting with the social-media-savvy group. I had a few people reach out to me during the conference and wanted to meet face-to-face because of the tweets I posted.”


From London to San Diego to Melbourne, #iStrategy is a hashtag with which marketers are familiar. GDS International’s biannual iStrategy events — one- to two-day digital-marketing conferences — allow senior marketing executives to collaborate and stay on the bleeding edge of innovation in their field. Using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+, GDS engages audiences both on- and off-site. A tweet wall livestreams attendees’ tweets, so everyone can be included in the online conversations.

In addition, there’s a major incentive to participate and use social media as much as possible at iStrategy: the iScars, the Oscars of digital marketing, given in categories including, “best picture, best answer to the question of the day, and most retweeted tweet.”  With only hundreds in attendance at the live event,  social-media activity reaches around 18 million people.


Social Roulette, anyone? Between the social-media concierges who addressed attendees’ social-media needs and the livestreaming Instagram walls, there was nothing ordinary about the social-media strategy at IBM Pulse, held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, March 3-6.

For newbies to the social-media scene, IBM hosted a game of Social Roulette, where first-timers earned points for participation and got to spin a roulette wheel for prizes on the last day of the conference. “We work to create a 360-degree experience that’s fully integrated with the conference, with their messaging, and the experience,” said Jill Drury, CEO of Drury Design Dynamics, who works with IBM to establish social-media-engagement strategies at its events.


At CiscoLive!, no tweet goes unanswered. Dedicated social-media monitors respond within one minute. “We’ve had all kinds of responses, like ‘There’s these wizards behind CiscoLive!,’ said Kathy Doyle, director of global customer conferences at Cisco Systems Inc.

One key to their success is the Social Media Hub, a program which began as a customer-service initiative, where social-media monitors would watch all the conversations happening online and address attendees’ needs. “We found that the customers were getting so interested and engaged with it that we brought it out to public areas.”

Now CiscoLive!’s sleek Social Media Hub broadcasts all tweets onto large screens. “They can see their own tweet on all the monitors throughout the convention center,” Doyle said. “It’s actually created more and more conversation amongst the attendees. We also have tweetups in the social-media lounge, so it’s a great way to network with their peers, not only in a virtual environment, but also face-to-face.”


When hundreds of people need to come to one final agreement, it’s difficult for every voice to be heard. John Chen, CEO of Geoteaming, a company that creates team-building treasure hunts using GPS technology, engages attendees by having them text or tweet answers to questions projected on screens, promoting collaboration.

“In a recent conference,” Chen said, “we gained a general idea [of what attendees were interested in] from an open-ended question, then I modified a poll on the fly using the largest categories that were given, and allowed a whole room to set the priority for the year for an association. We did it all in 30 minutes or less, and it was based off of the group’s information, not just one person deciding, ‘This is what we should do.’”

Chen also uses text and Twitter response with Geoteaming’s GooseChase app, which he employed with 1,800 participants at the 2012 MPI World Education Congress, held in St. Louis last July. GooseChase’s photo scavenger hunt connected to attendees’ Twitter accounts, sharing photos of the event. “All these other networks of people are learning about the conference,” Chen said. “It’s a great way to create interaction with your audience without it having to cost a lot.”

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