15 Ways to Bring Social Media to Events

social media how toDo you host events or informal gatherings?

Social media enables event attendees to connect in powerful ways. Social media can help promote events and empower attendees to share.

This article will reveal 15 ways you can infuse social media into your events.

Creating Pre-Event Buzz

#1: Registration Buzz

You don’t have to wait until the day of your event to create a buzz—it can start at the registration stage. Services such as Eventbrite let your attendees share the event with their networks as they register.

#2: Sharing Buzz

Encourage your attendees to share details of your event early by offering incentives for spreading the word. Meteor Solutions helps you to incentivize your event by offering rewards for sharing your content.

The Online Marketing Summit 2012 is offering the chance to win a free trip to San Diego by sharing their event.

oms 2012

OMS is giving away a free trip to San Diego for spreading the word about the event.

South by Southwest (SXSW) goes one step further with SXSocial, their own registrant tool which allows attendees to get to know like-minded users and exchange messages before the event.

The entire front page of the TEDx SoMa Event is dedicated to pre-registering and sharing information about the next event: all their blogs, Twitter feed, Facebook fans, Flickr and YouTube channels are up there to excite next year’s attendees, with your attention directed towards the large ‘pre-register’ button.

tedx soma

TEDxSoMa does a good job at highlighting their content socially, as well as the opportunities to share their content.

Make sure all your event promotions include pre-agreed hashtags in prominent positions to encourage people to start using them early when they talk about your event. You don’t want two or three variations getting coined as it will be much harder to follow conversation threads.

oms 2012 hashtag

OMS features their event's hashtag up front and center.

Once you’ve got your speakers lined up you can include their profiles—and Twitter handles—on your website and other promotions, which will help your audience get to know them if they don’t already and even start suggesting questions and topics that might help your speakers gauge the audience better.

#3: Event-Shaping Buzz

SXSW has always been active in asking attendees for their views to help shape events, with 30% of their programming chosen by attendees. Without going to these lengths, you can use PollDaddy and TwtPoll to conduct simple polls before your event.

sxsw

SXSW crowd is buzzing with excitement.

#4: Rumor Buzz

In 2009 a rumor flew around Twitter that comedian Dave Chappell would be playing a secret midnight show at Portland’s Pioneer Square. No-one was able to confirm or deny the rumor, so it just kept running until 5,000 people had showed up.

Midnight came and went, and no Dave Chappell. Still, people kept arriving. Had the Twitter rumor just been a massive hoax? At 1 am, just as everyone was starting to think they’d been victims of a Twitter con, Dave Chappell walked on stage and rewarded the crowd with an impromptu gig.

Rumors of surprise special guests or exciting prizes can help to invigorate your event and get people talking.

rumor of surprise guest

Crowd going crazy when the Dave Chappelle rumor is confirmed by his appearance.

Keeping Attendees Informed

#5: Use QR Codes for Ad-Hoc Presentations

Nowadays it doesn’t matter how ad-hoc your event is. Even if it’s being held outside with no traditional conference facilities, you can use QR codes to share your presentation without a projector by uploading your presentation to Slideshare, then creating a QR code that points to the presentation. Print an image of the code and anyone with a smartphone can scan it and go straight to the presentation.

qr codes presentation

Example of QR codes used to download a presentation.

#6: Collect All of Your Speakers’ Blogs in One Place

How do you keep your attendees up to date with all your speakers’ news, whether before, during or after the event? With Netvibes, you can use the RSS feeds from their blogs to create a dashboard of all their latest posts.

Netvibes can also be used to round up Twitter conversations, which is particularly useful at large events if there are several different hashtags being used.

netvibes

Netvibes' conversation feed.

Helping Attendees Share Information

#7: Twitter Backchannels

There’s no need to stick to the rigid format of talking, then opening up to questions from the audience. With a Twitter backchannel run on something like Tweetwally, not only can the audience provide commentary on the talks, but also non-attendees can follow along on Twitter.

There can be issues around this, though: running commentary behind the speaker can be distracting and as the format isn’t censored, comments could go off-topic or even turn negative. A good solution is to have a screen up in a communal area away from the live events, with marshals collecting comments and feedback to put to the speaker at an appropriate time.

#8: Sharing Images

By setting up an official Flickr page and using small prizes and incentives to encourage participants to upload their own photos, you can quickly build a great unofficial photo record of the event, which you can use again in future promotions.

#9: Sharing Locations

Encourage attendees to check in using Foursquare at different locations around the venue by rewarding them with discounts, special offers and other incentives. Not only can everyone see which booths are popular, but also you can encourage them to explore locations that they might otherwise have missed.

Absent Attendees

#10: Open Up Your Event to Virtual Attendees

If you don’t want space to limit your attendance, consider opening your event up to virtual attendees.

The 2011 Blog World and New Media Expo is selling virtual tickets for anyone not able to physically get to LA.

bwe 2011

BlogWorld is offering recordings of presentations for a smaller fee to those who can't attend.

Some events, such as the 2011 International Freelancers Day Conference go one step further and are entirely virtual, with speakers recording sessions miles apart, cutting the need for a conference venue, travel or accommodation. Virtual attendees can ask questions via Twitter or Facebook, or comment on events using hashtags to create what is potentially a global conversation.

#11: Video Streaming

Live recording is the keystone to a virtual event. UStream, Facebook or a dedicated YouTube channel can enable you to stream events live, either in whole or in part. This is particularly valuable at large events where attendees are never going to get around to all the talks. If you’re going to do this on a large scale, it’s worth investing in dedicated recording equipment and a separate Internet connection, as you’ll be using a lot of bandwidth.

Energize Your Event

#12: QR Code Scavenger Hunts

How can you make visiting your booth more fun and stand out in a busy venue? This year’s Comic-Con in San Diego used QR codes to create a Voltron-themed scavenger hunt for fans to win prizes. At the same event, BBC America ran their own Doctor Who QR game to encourage attendees to visit all of their Doctor Who exhibits, with the chance to win related prize-packs.

comic con

Comic-Con is always buzzing with activity.

dr who

Doctor Who QR game.

Reward your attendees for sharing blog posts, weblogs and photo galleries at your event with prizes and discounts. The MarketingProf’s B2B Forum offered free tickets to next year’s event for the best content posted to their blog.

After the Event

#13: Publish Your Twitter Wall

If you have a whole lot of media you don’t know what to do with, try using Storify to collect Tweets, videos and photos and embed them in your website or share them through social media.

#14: Give Access to All of Your Talks With Links to Videos

You can make your website the main place for post-event catch-up by using Ustream and YouTube to embed video of your biggest events. This can also serve as a great marketing tool for next year’s event.

Make sure you have an email sign-up (you can use AWeber or MailChimp) on the same page to capture interest, and you can even get ahead of the game by offering incentives for early interest.

paypal x commerce

X.commerce is a new and innovative distribution channel.

#15: Publish Your Presentations

You can use Slideshare to reach a whole new audience beyond your own website and help convince new audiences to sign up for next year’s event.

What do you think? How have you promoted your event? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Ekaterina Walter

Ekaterina Walter is a cofounder and CMO of Branderati and a bestselling author of Think Like Zuck and The Power of Visual Storytelling . Other posts by »




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  • http://www.benlang.me/ Ben Lang

    Great ideas!

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks Ben.  Ekaterina has put together some great tips here.

  • http://frankjkenny.com/ Frank J. Kenny

    Not too long ago I attended a national trade association event. They seemed to have considered everything. Nice hotel, close to the airport, smooth check-in, the works. Very professional. It wasn’t their first rodeo.

    Then the conference started and we went down stairs to the meeting rooms. The venue was so deep in the earth, surrounded by cement and other buildings, that cell phone wouldn’t work. At breaks, people flocked to the sidewalk to get a signal.

    For those of us who wanted to use Twitter, Foursquare, and other social media real time to help promote the event and engage our friends, we were silenced. Cut off from the connected world. Even wifi was spotty, at best

    When I told the leadership of the organization that this was a problem they would have to deal they were shocked that I even allowed that to be an issue. As if my social media usage during the conference was a distraction to me and an affront to them.

    Thanks for writing this Ekaterina. Times are changing for conference organizers and even though many of the top brass don’t have an interest in social media, the attendees do. I will share this.

    Frank

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  • Rarejewelinc

    Great ideas I’m glad I read this before my first event!

  • http://twitter.com/TheTechChef Arwen McGilvra

    I am the social media manager for a group called American Agri-Women. We recently had our annual convention in Wichita and encouraged members to tweet using the hashtag #AAW2011. Then I created a Tweet archive using the Archivist http://archivist.visitmix.com/TheTechChef/1 . Which was great for about a week afterwards, but now shows only a handful of tweets. Does Storify keep a record for longer? I enjoy how the Archivist has lots of graphic to show who tweet and how, but for an event that happen once a year I’d like to be able to keep the archive.

  • http://www.ekaterinawalter.com Ekaterina Walter

    Thank you, Ben!

  • http://www.ekaterinawalter.com Ekaterina Walter

    Frank, thank you for sharing. Yes, I’ve been to those events as well :) It is too bad that there are no social extension at most events.

  • http://www.ekaterinawalter.com/ Ekaterina Walter

    I am glad it was helpful!

  • http://www.bluebanana.co.nz Linda Coles @ Blue Banana 20

    Thanks heaps for this, some new places to utilize for my events in 2012, so much to do now !  :)

  • http://www.huddleproductions.com/ Chris Yates

    Excellent ideas. I am getting more requests to do video interviews at events and distribute to Social Sites to extend the events life cycle.

    Your thoughts take this a step further! Thanks for the information.

  • JoAnn Jordan

    Thanks for this great list of resources. I know I will be making use of these ideas in 2012!

  • Holly Galbraith

    Thanks for the article, some good ideas there especially about the use of QR codes. I recently wrote an article on the subject that your readers may enjoy http://gofuturemedia.com/social-media-and-events/.
    I think it is still early days for social media and the events industry but eventbrite doing a good job in leading the way. Cheers.

  • http://www.appointmenttrader.com Chris

    Excellent list- it is amazing how may resources are out there…more to come I’m sure.

  • Jesse

    Great  article! I think social media should be a tool to enhance real-time social experiences, and  your suggestions help make that possible.

  • Becki Rogers-Neese

    The company that I work for does this service, interested parties feel free to contact me for tips. brogersneese@gmail.com

  • http://www.i95dev.com/ecommerce-magento Henry Louis

    Hi Walter! It is very effective. I like this way of presentation. Thanks for sharing.

  • Amy Tilbrook

    This is a fabulous article Ekaterina. Thank you for sharing these ideas and real life examples. I will definitely be putting them into practice.

  • Helene Towers

    Thank you for this really helpful list of ideas. It just goes to show there are so many things we can do to promote and create buzz, that don’t cost anything and just take a little bit of creative thinking.

  • http://twitter.com/meteorsolutions Meteor Solutions

    really helpful tips Ekaterina and thank you for the mention.  We consistently see social sharing and word of mouth drive huge registration volumes for events.  Social is a major channel for event registration.

  • http://twitter.com/Eboisquillon Elise Boisquillon

    Very good article and very thoroughly ! Thanks a lot !

  • http://www.FaceForwardMedia.com SEM Services

    This is great advice for creating a buzz here guys, definitely something we can all keep in mind!  Thanks for posting!

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  • http://www.ekaterinawalter.com/ Ekaterina Walter

    Thank you, all, for your great comment and kind words. There is nothing like writing a post that will be helpful to fellow marketers out there!  Thank you, Mike and Social Media Examiner, for making it happen!

  • http://twitter.com/corvedacosta Corve A. DaCosta

    Love the idea shared. Will keep them in mind

  • Claire Matthew

    wow, so much to absorb…amazing info. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://roarmkting.com Ryan Rosado

    These are amazing tips.  I especially like all the tools you mentioned since they seem like quality tools.  If it weren’t for this post I would have never heard about them.  Thanks for sharing!

  • Mark DeSimone

    What amount of resources (people and hours) are necessary for something like this…say a medium size event. Because of course there is setup but most of the time will be spent on engagement…creating original value added content and responding to the user base as it expands.

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  • http://www.best-web-hosting-companies.com/ Kavya Hari

    Social media is one of the correct directions to promote your events on here.Thanks a lot for given up here :)

  • http://www.icu-india.com internet marketing belgium

    fabulous all things written in this post is really great i like it a lot

  • http://twitter.com/buzzquotient buzzquotient

    Social Media is most viral for spreading news about your event. Most social networks allow you to see which of your friends are attending thus making it an easier decision to attend any particular event. Great way for people to connect to each other before an event as well.

  • Niraabe

    I love these ideas!  I plan a lot of events at work and just launched a social media plan so I hope the combination of the two will be a huge success!

  • 2social2

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  • http://twitter.com/CrowdTogether Richard Spiegel

    These are all great tips.  To expand on #3…One could host an online contest to engage their community either leading up to the event or after the event to continue the engagement.  Prior to the event one could host a contest to design the t-shirt or sticker to be given out at the event or post event you could have a Best Photo Contest.  CrowdTogether allows you to engage your community for free with our contest platform.  We are also able to help guide and shape your contest to help you get the highest community engagement and hype surrounding your contest and event.

  • Maurice

    And don’t forget next to photo sharing a “photo live stream” like http://photodispatch.nl is providing.

  • http://twitter.com/kevnix Kevin L. Nichols

    Great piece.  I would to see you include and get your thoughts on a buddy of mine’s start-up MogoTix http://mogotix.com/ which allows attendees to purchase tickets by taking pictures of their credit cards and checking in with their mobile phones.  It’s pretty neat.  Thanks.

  • http://howtomarketaseminar.com/socialmedia Daphne Bousquet

    These are some great tips, Ekaterina, especially for large events.  But even smaller workshops and seminars can use some of these tips.  I especially like tip #14, adding video of your event to your website to start promoting your next event.  Most seminar hosts don’t realize that you need to start marketing your next one right away. 

  • Andy Thompson

    These are great ideas.  We have taken item #8 – sharing images – even further.  My company Angle21 ( http://www.angle21.com) allows for attendees to upload photos from the event and we build an online page turning book in our social publishing Facebook application which allows people to view, share, tag, and communicate around the images and lets the organization gather data on the end user.  We just finished a photo contest for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation with great photos and the book is being built now.

  • Andy Thompson

    These are great ideas.  We have taken item #8 – sharing images – even further.  My company Angle21 ( http://www.angle21.com) allows for attendees to upload photos from the event and we build an online page turning book in our social publishing Facebook application which allows people to view, share, tag, and communicate around the images and lets the organization gather data on the end user.  We just finished a photo contest for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation with great photos and the book is being built now.

  • http://twitter.com/amimartin Ami Martin

    Good ideas. Realizing that events are a cornerstone of a social strategy it makes sense to me to start planning much further in advance. I created a list of key 2012 B2B marketing events that I’m happy to share. Contact me if you’d like a copy (Excel).

  • http://twitter.com/amimartin Ami Martin

    Good ideas. Realizing that events are a cornerstone of a social strategy it makes sense to me to start planning much further in advance. I created a list of key 2012 B2B marketing events that I’m happy to share. Contact me if you’d like a copy (Excel).

  • Aytakin Aliyeva

    Great article, thanks! And I agree with Frank, some companies think about a venue as an easy place for attendees to reach, or easy for parking, however the organizers forget about the social network aspects of that. 

  • Aytakin Aliyeva

    Great article, thanks! And I agree with Frank, some companies think about a venue as an easy place for attendees to reach, or easy for parking, however the organizers forget about the social network aspects of that. 

  • http://twitter.com/1LocalBusiness 1LocalBusiness

    Great article and real life examples.
    Thanks for all the ideas that are burning through the skull right now…it’s gonna drive me crazy all night!

  • http://twitter.com/1LocalBusiness 1LocalBusiness

    Great article and real life examples.
    Thanks for all the ideas that are burning through the skull right now…it’s gonna drive me crazy all night!

  • Andy Thompson

    Ami,

    I would love to see the list of marketing events.  My email is andy@uforlife.com. Thanks!

  • Andy Thompson

    Ami,

    I would love to see the list of marketing events.  My email is andy@uforlife.com. Thanks!

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  • Darrell Ellens

    Hi Ami,  I would like to get a copy of the list if I can. Is there any way you could email to me? socialmedia @shaw:disqus .ca

    Darrell Ellens in Vancouver

  • Darrell Ellens

    The timing for this article was perfect, I am planning something in late spring.

  • Pat McAdams

    Constant Contact has a great Event tool as well that works well with email and social media
    http://www.constantcontact-event.com 

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  • Vanish M

    Hey Ami,

    I would love to have a copy and appreciate your work. My email address is vmongaATindianaDOTcom

  • http://www.slidecoaching.com/ Alessandra Cimatti

    if you upload your content on many websites, won’t there be a problem with duplicate content?

  • http://twitter.com/TheLittlePaper Brush Marketing Grp

    This is great information.  Looking forward to using for our next event.  :)

  • Lucienne Lopez

    #8: Sharing ImagesBy setting up an official Flickr page and using small prizes and incentives to encourage participants to upload their own photos, you can quickly build a great unofficial photo record of the event, which you can use again in future promotions.

    Does anyone actually know how to do this? I’ve read a blog telling me the following, but cant seem to make it work. 

    “You could give everyone the email address where you can post to Flickr via email, then you don’t have to give the password to anyone and most people can handle emailing photos.”

    I would like to use at an event soon. 

    Cheers, 
    Lucie

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  • Ben Gold

    Great article. Now a days we see a growing trend of people using social media walls in their events. One such tool we used for our previous event was Tint. We have seen increase in engagement among our audience using the tool. We used Hootsuite to track the best tweets in the event, favorited those tweets and pushed it onto our display using Tint.







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