social media how toDoes your business run events, conferences or similar meetings?

The ability for attendees to interact through social channels is a huge part of successful events.

Here are 4 ways to maximize the social media presence of your next event.

#1: Promote Your Hashtag Everywhere

A hashtag provides everyone with an easy way to find relevant social shares and take part in the discussion about the event.

When you are putting together materials for your event, everything should include the event hashtag.

  • The hashtag should be visible on your event website (consider showing a glimpse of the tweet stream on your home page).
  • When you promote the conference to potential attendees, include the hashtag so people are able to find others who are tweeting about your conference.
  • Any posters, slides, brochures or directories should have the hashtag visible so attendees can immediately identify how to tweet about your event and connect with others through social media.

Here are examples which follow the same logic to make sure the conference hashtag is visible to everyone.

smmw13 panel arrow

Event sign posts mention the #SMMW13 hashtag.

smmw13 event guide

The program guides mention the #smmw13 hashtag.

inbound presentation

All presentations include the #INBOUND12 hashtag.

inbound picture

Pictures from the conference have the #INBOUND12 hashtag.

inbound email

Post conference emails have the #INBOUND12 hashtag.

Having the hashtag on all of the conference materials ensures that people remember what it is and that they should use it in their social media communications.

Encourage conference speakers to mention the hashtag at the beginning of presentations and respond to tweets even after their presentation is over.

The more that attendees are able to see the effective utilization of social media at a conference, the more they will feel encouraged to use it.

#2: Include Social Media Functions in Your Mobile App

The majority of conferences now have a mobile app available to attendees. The app doesn’t have to be extensive, but it typically includes the schedule, map and information about the app.

Many events are taking their apps to the next level by also including social media integrations. It is so important to make it easy for attendees to connect with each other, and since people are frequently in the app anyway, that is the perfect place.

LeWeb is an annual conference for entrepreneurs and digital enthusiasts that takes place in Paris. They had an elaborate mobile app that connected to multiple social media platforms. Anyone who wanted to participate in the social media conversation could easily see the different accounts, connect with others at the conference on social and participate themselves.

leweb mobile app

LeWeb’s 2012 mobile app.

leweb app with links

LeWeb’s mobile app with links to social media.

If you are creating a mobile app, take the extra step to include social media integrations.

Don’t make your attendees go to the app for a map and then open their social media profiles to participate in the online conversation. Have everything your attendees need all in one place to give them a better networking experience.

#3: Have a Social Media Command Center

While attendees at your event are posting on various social media channels, it is up to you and your event team to be responsive to them. Having a few dedicated people to manage the social media channels, especially as they may be getting more attention than usual, is very important.

If someone is using the hashtag to ask a question, you want to ensure you respond as quickly as possible. Depending on the size of your event, assign staff whose only job during the conference is to respond to social media comments and questions.’s annual conference, Dreamforce, attracts close to 100,000 people from all over the world to learn about marketing, sales and technology. Because of the high levels of social activity during the conference, they have set up a social media command center with staff members who can be active on social media throughout the day.

They have large screens that attract attendees and show that if they are participating in the conference through social media, they will get a response from someone who works at the conference.

dreamforce command center

Dreamforce 2012’s Social Media Command Center.

Even if your conference is fewer than 100 people, choose someone who can respond on social media throughout the day and even tweet soundbites from the speakers at your event. No matter the size of your event, there will always be someone who wanted to come but couldn’t and would like to follow on social media.

By showing the activity on social media, you aren’t just contributing to the experience of people at the conference, you are also enhancing the experience of the people who weren’t able to be there, too.

Participating in social at conferences is also about getting in touch with your fans and followers to encourage them to attend your event in the future.

#4: Use Social Media as a Way for Attendees to Ask Questions

At many conferences, there are a lot of questions that attendees want to ask the speakers, but there isn’t always an appropriate time or means.

Many conferences have adopted using social media platforms, especially Twitter, to encourage attendees to tweet in their questions with the conference hashtag. This accomplishes two goals: it will make it easy for attendees to ask questions, while also increasing the social reach of the conference.

The 140 Conference focuses on using social media platforms, especially Twitter. Leslie Hall served as a moderator for one of the panels in 2012 and encouraged attendees to ask questions on Twitter as a way to participate in the conversation.

leslie hall moderating

Leslie Hall moderating a panel at the 140 Conference.

Attendees enjoy participating in conferences this way. Many people do not feel confident enough to ask questions in front of everyone, but by asking questions through Twitter, they are able to have their voice heard by the keynote speakers.

Conferences are more interactive and have a larger social presence by using techniques like this.

Incorporate Social Media Into Your Next Event

Now that social media is such a big part of everyone’s daily lives, attendees will expect it to be incorporated into your next event or conference.

As an event coordinator, it is your job to make it easy for attendees to use social media and figure out where the conversations are happening.

What do you think? What other events have you seen that incorporate social media in creative ways? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • Awesome post Rachel! I’ve attended several events in the past and it’s always good to know what other attendees are thinking, so I make it a point to check out what they are saying on Twitter. It’s easy to see their post on Twitter, because of the Hashtags, but what about other social media sites? Is there a way for people to check into events on Facebook and post pictures and comments in real time? Thanks for your answer in advance!

    Let’s keep the fire going SME peeps!

    ~John Lee Dumas

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  • Dara Khajavi

    Great post! I am always looking for new ways to promote my firm through social media. Thanks!

  • Daphne Bousquet

    These are great suggestions, and not just for conferences. These work for coaches, consultants and other experts who host their own workshops and seminars as well. Not only does using social media this way provide for an excellent experience for your attendees, but it also raises your profile during your event. That is important, because marketing your next event starts at your current event.

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  • Hashtag promotions is a Awesome marketing strategy but a complicated thing to get started. Thanks for the incite

  • Thanks for the insights…there is so much potential for hashtag promotions. As a major theatre event we have fans who want to interact with the show and want their experience to last long after the 2 hours of seeing the actual event.

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  • heidicohen


    Two points I’d add to your list:
    1] Incorporate your event hashtag in your speakers’ powerpoint.
    2] Incent participants to tweet with your hashtag. For example, Affiliate Summit East offered a free pass to the person with the most tweets.

    Happy marketing,
    Heidi Cohen

  • Great post, thanks for the tips! I introduced live tweeting to our annual Conference in 2011, with limited success. We introduced an event hashtag in 2012, which improved engagement, and this year we used a longer lead-in and introduced Facebook to the mix. We’re getting there, but these tips will help make next year’s event our most social event ever! 🙂

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  • Tamar Beck

    The advantage of Twitter during a live event is that you can use the hashtag to talk about the event without necessarily talking to the event – great for the attendees, speakers and sponsors to be able to interact with each other… a challenge for the organiser to keep up with the conversations, but the conversation at the event usually takes place on Twitter as it’s just more dynamic.

  • Good Post!

  • Rachel Sprung

    Hi John!

    I would say the best way is to post in the actual event if it is on Facebook. Or you could post on your feed. But it is very different from Twitter where it is easy to search for a particular hashtag. Typically the action is happening more on Twitter than Facebook.

    Hope that helps!

  • Rachel Sprung

    Hi Heidi!

    Great suggestions! Thank you for sharing!

  • MrVanDigital

    Hey Rachel. Great post. I’m involved in the organization of a few events here in Vancouver, Canada. Interestingly, QuickMobile (the world leader in event app software) is based here.

    I wanted to know people’s experience with getting an app developed for an event. What were the costs involved? Who did they develop it with? What were the benefits and ROI?

    Also, some other tips from our events:
    1. Get speakers’ slides and permission to share on SlideShare – great for reach and authority for business conferences
    2. Videos and photos are great to maintain engagement after the event and give people an incentive to follow/fan/friend your owned media sites
    3. Newsletters before and after the event are great ways to make attendees aware of how to engage with the event

    Finally, every event is different so base your strategy and tactics on your goals and resources.


  • Rachel…EXCELLENT post! I would go further in suggesting additional, specific hashtags for each presenter at your conference/event (displayed during presenter’s stage appearance) for users to tweet to. This will help in studying attendee behavior, overall analytics, and delegation responsibilities (what staff member is covering what).

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  • I am loving the Social media command center… looks like a NASA mission control.

  • macnchuk

    Have you seen Pulso Viral? It is a company that puts social responses directly on a projected screen real time

  • Promoting an event through social media sites is what I believe the most effective way of event marketing. Today, it is done by using mobile devices. This is really great news for us who live in the “APP WORLD”, where every task is possible using a mobile app. Social media marketing using your mobile device is also time saving and easy. Isn’t it?

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  • Thomas Outt

    If this sort of thing is good enough for Olivia Newton-John, it’s good enough for me! Understand that many in entertainment world use a variant of this with + results.

  • Google+ Events work well that way.
    But best to dovetail it with a Twitter campaign as per this article – which is spot on.
    Amazed at how many opportunities for “audience magnification” like this are missed, leaving people to make up their own hashtags, flounder around trying to find other participants to engage with, etc.
    Most amusing was to attend a half-day seminar on “better social media” for government where they didn’t get any of these basics right… :-/

  • It also gives speakers the opportunity to clarify questions, answer ones that didn’t get asked on the floor, and I’ve even seen a speaker issue a correction to something she said a few minutes afterwards when she realised she made a mistake. Immediacy of the medium!

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  • Hester Tinti-Kane

    This is a great post! We’ve been looking for one to share as a resource for our events team and this is the best one we have found – direct, concise and great examples for each recommended best practice. Thank you, Rachel!

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  • Cristina Rays

    Rachel, this post is incredible! I’m planning an enormous conference in the action sports industry and needed to know how to best leverage social media and you definitely delivered. Thank you to your awesome community as well for providing additional tips. So stoked!

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  • how did you incorporate facebook? I am thinking I do not want to do an event page because RSVP’s are in. I am hoping to make this year’s event more social.

  • I am interested in hearing people’s experience with getting an app developed for an annual meeting…and the lead time.
    Thank you