Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

January 23 2015

4 Reasons Why Meetings Fail At Social Media

By David McMillin



It builds buzz before the meeting ever starts. It makes audience members who didn’t come to the meeting recognize what they’re missing. It helps continue the conversation after the lights go out and everyone heads home.

The aforementioned “it” is social media. As fans and followers post photos, share news and comment on status updates, the social media landscape has become a crucial ingredient of building a strong community of attendees. However, many organizations still struggle to leverage the power of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. At Convening Leaders 2015, Scott Stratten, President, Un-Marketing, helped meeting professionals understand some of the leading reasons why their organizations might be finishing near last place in the social media race. Here’s a look at four reasons why some meetings fail at social engagement.

1) Failing to tap into the power of feelings.

Wondering why no one is bothering to like all those reminders about the early bird registration deadline? Because they all feel like promotional billboards, and promotional billboards do very little to inspire attendees.

“Nobody shares mediocre,” Stratten said. “People spread emotion. We share something really funny or really sad or something that makes us really angry.”

Remember that online users are bombarded with posts that cover everything from what their friends ate for breakfast to sponsored advertisements to pictures of someone’s new baby. Translation: the social media world is very crowded. If you want to stand out from the noise, do something worth your attendees’ time. Make them stop, listen and turn the volume up to make sure other people hear the message.

SEE ALSO: Why Your Attendees Aren’t Connecting With You On Social Media

2) Treating it like a PR campaign.

While your communications department can write, revise and refine a press release, social media is the opposite.

“It’s not the brand telling the story,” Stratten said. “It’s the brand giving people the tools to tell the story.”

Organizations can attempt to start the conversation, but the online community members will be the ones who determine its direction.

“Don’t ask them to retweet or to share,” Stratten added. “Put your messages out into the world and hope that they’re worth talking about. Hope the story is good enough that your audience will do the work for you.”

3) Running away from negativity.

“When it hits the fan, it’s not time to hide behind the fan,” Stratten said. “It’s time to be awesome.”

Social media can be a great outlet for sharing good stories and positive reviews, but these channels also act as a platform for voicing frustrations. When attendees complain about the lack of gluten-free food options at lunch, the temperature in the general session ballroom or the mobile app’s shortcomings, it’s up to the meeting team to make sure each user’s complaint receives attention.

SEE ALSO: Best Examples Of Social Media In The Meetings Industry

4) Being too slow.

That attention needs to come immediately. If an attendee posts an angry tweet at 10 AM, someone needs to reply by about 10:01 AM — sooner, if possible. In today’s rapid-response business environment, a quick reply is not a luxury. It’s an expectation.

“The speed at which we reply is almost more important than what we reply with,” Stratten said.

This carries serious implications for any meeting team that creates a specific hashtag for a conference and asks attendees to use it throughout the conference. A hashtag is a good idea under one condition: a staff member must be constantly monitoring it throughout the conference to respond to questions, needs and negative comments.

“Don’t have an event hashtag if you’re not following it in real time,” Stratten said.

A Social Media Success Story

While many meetings face challenges on the road to social stardom, Freeman recently helped PCMA measure the organization’s digital momentum at Convening Leaders 2015. Using Freeman’s social media tool, PCMA’s social media monitoring team was able to see that the hashtag #pcmaCL received nearly 10,000 posts via Twitter and/or Instagram from more than 1,500 individual users. It’s clear that the voice of the attendees shaped the conversation. Just four percent of the posts originated from PCMA or the host city, Choose Chicago.

Missed Convening Leaders? 

Fear not. Our 2015 Convening Leaders Rewind is available for purchase here. You can RSVP for our free rebroadcast on February 10th here.

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