Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 01 2015

6 Simple Steps to Make Your Meeting Better Through Social Media

By David McMillin



 Throughout your meeting, your attendees are posting, streaming, liking and commenting on their social networks. Whether they’re telling everyone about how much they loved the keynote speaker in the general session or complaining about the limited options at lunch, social media gives every meeting attendee a platform to voice their views. As the roar of digital conversations continues to rise, here are six simple steps to follow to make your meeting better using social media.

1) Do your research.

Creating a buzz around your conference isn’t just about creating a username on every platform that pops up in a search for “social media.” Instead, it’s about knowing which tools are the most appropriate for your audience and when they’re most effective. For example, LinkedIn may offer a powerful channel to help establish connections before an event, but most attendees won’t be spending their time on LinkedIn while speakers are on stage. However, plenty of your attendees will be refreshing their Twitter and Instagram feeds on a regular basis. If you’re searching for a comprehensive introduction to the pros and cons of different social media platforms, be sure to download this free social media checklist from Tourisme Montréal.

2) Appoint one on-site social media maven.

Rather than giving 10 different people on the meetings team access to the meeting’s social accounts, it’s best to have one go-to point person for all your social media needs.

“At Convening Leaders, we designate one member of the marketing team to handle all our social activity,” Mary Reynolds Kane, DES, Vice President, Marketing, PCMA, says. “It offers two big benefits. First, it means that someone isn’t trying to balance posting pictures on Instagram while responding to a last-minute speaker request. Second, it ensures a consistent tone of voice that fans and followers feel comfortable communicating with throughout the meeting.”

3) Get your partners involved.

While you should appoint a social media director, your team doesn’t have to work toward social success on its own. Reynolds Kane recommends working with your host venue in advance of the meeting to outline your expectations of their responsibilities in the social conversation.

“You want to make sure your convention center or host hotel are closely monitoring social activity, so that they can help address any attendee concerns while your group is on the property,” Reynolds Kane says.

4) Embrace immediacy.

Social media is about real-time. In order to make your meeting’s social conversation matter, feedback must happen instantly.

“Don’t have an event hashtag if you’re not following it in real time,” Scott Stratten, President, Un-Marketing, says.

An attendee wants to know why the shuttle busses are delayed? Respond and let him or her know when the next vehicle will arrive. An attendee just tweeted about how much he or she loved the latest breakout session? Send them a thank you and favorite the tweet.

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

5) Put your hashtag #everywhere.

Wherever your attendees turn, make sure they know the meeting’s hashtag. From the welcome screen in your mobile app to the big screen in the general session environment and everywhere in between, post reminders about the meeting’s correct hashtag so that attendees are all using the same term to identify their thoughts on the content and on-site activities.

“If you don’t steer them toward the pre-determined hashtag, attendees will make up their own hashtags,” Reynolds Kane says. “Once that happens, you’ll have a more challenging time trying to manage and respond to the online conversation.”

6) Bring social chatter to the big screen.

While attendees will continue to look at their own screens, you can capture their attention with a massive display of the meeting’s social stream. From Twitterfall to Tweet Beam to TweetWall Pro, there are a wide range of options to broadcast what attendees are saying on a bigger stage. In addition to displaying social feedback from the peers who are sitting next to them on-site, social media walls can welcome virtual attendees to the conversation. At the 2014 McDonald’s Worldwide Convention, a 30’ multilingual social wall showcased comments from an audience around the world.

Do you have any tips for your colleagues on how to handle the social media revolution? Comment in the section below to share your advice with the meetings community.

This educational article was brought to you by Tourisme Montréal. The organization brings a special brand of savoir-faire to the table, with streamlined solutions and a staff of experienced managers at its Montréal office as well as its satellite offices in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Paris.

Moreover, once a meeting is confirmed in Montréal, the Convention Services team is there to accompany planners every step of the way—from the first site visit until the departure of the last delegate—and provides a wide range of attendance-building tools and helpful advice to ensure the event is a success. As part of “Team Montréal”, a coalition of the city’s convention and meeting industry leaders, Tourisme Montréal is dedicated to making planners Montréal experience rewarding, efficient and successful.

Click here to read Tourisme Montréal’s social media guide, and check out the organization’s blog to learn about the latest trends in meeting planning.

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