From industry conferences to professional summits to intimate roundtables, most of us marketers have attended at least one real-world event to learn, be inspired, represent our brands, and network with one another.
And after attending the 2016 MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum last fall, I can tell you one thing’s for sure: The face-to-face time you get with industry thought leaders, peers, customers, and prospects at these real-life events is simply priceless. But that doesn’t mean we should forget about your digital tools—especially social media—to make the absolute most out of your attendance.
With that said, as TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden, and team members Ashley Zeckman and Josh Nite, prepare to head off to Social Media Marketing World in sunny San Diego, CA this week—what better time to highlight some tips on effectively utilizing social media to engage, connect, and build personal and brand awareness at an event?
Below we offer some easy tips and suggestions on social media actions you can take before, during and after your event.
Before the Event
#1- Find event-related hashtags.
These days, most conferences and events will feature at least one speciality hashtag that represents the event. Knowing these will be super important to connect your social media activities to the event, as well as keep track of what’s happening before, during and after.
Start your research on the event’s website, or main landing or registration page. You’ll likely find the hashtags there. You can also take a peek on social channels to see what they’re using to promote the event.
Once you’ve found your hashtags, set up a new stream or feed within your preferred social media monitoring tool (e.g. Hootsuite) to easily track how that hashtag is being used, as well as make it easy for you to engage with others or share that tagged content. If you’re using Twitter, add the hashtag to a saved search to make it easy to find on your mobile device.
#2 – Connect with speakers, presenters and other attendees.
One of the greatest perks of in-person events is the time you get to spend talking and connecting with experts and your fellow industry peers. But you shouldn’t wait until you walk through the conference doors to make those connections.
Use the event’s agenda to find social media info for all the keynotes and presenters you’ll be listening to while there, and follow them. This will allow you to keep up on what they’re talking about and sharing on social, as well as give you the opportunity to start interacting with them.
In addition, since you’ve already done your hashtag research, peruse what others are saying about the event to find other attendees that you might want to engage with or follow for good content. Also, if you’re using Twitter, add these people to a list to make it easy to keep up with them.
#3 – Start some buzz.
Whether you’re looking to build your personal brand, represent your company’s brand or both, take time to highlight your attendance at the event and what you’re most excited for. Consider calling out for a little participation by asking others if they’ll be there with you. Here’s a simple, but effective example from Joshua Hager as he jets off to Social Media Marketing World.
#4 – Schedule out some related content.
Attending industry events is so much fun, but it can be a whirlwind, too. Before you head out, take some time to schedule out a few posts relevant posts. This will help you keep your news feed fresh, and give all those new connections you’re making a little taste of what you have to offer.
#5 – Join event discussion groups.
Occasionally, conference organizers will establish social groups that attendees can use to get the latest updates on what’s happening and to start interacting with each other. Join these groups and engage when it makes sense. This is just another great way to start making connections and put yourself out there before you arrive the first day.
During the Event
#6 – Set the scene.
It’s no secret that humans are visual creatures—especially on social media platforms. Give your followers a glimpse of what’s happening at the event by using images and video within your posts. Of course, make sure to use the appropriate event hashtag, and mention or tag other relevant people or companies in your post. Here’s a nice example from Andy Crestodina while at Content Marketing World.
#7 – Share interesting, inspiring speaker quotes.
The keynotes and presenters at the event will be undoubtedly provide you with awesome content to share with your network. Take advantage of that by sharing some of their most interesting, inspiring or eye-opening insights or bits of advice. Here’s an example from Stuart Asbury, who’s attending IBM InterConnect in Las Vegas this week—which featured an address from actor, producer, songwriter and recording artist Will Smith.
#8 – Invite people to meet up.
Whether you’re brand is manning a booth at the expo or you’re grabbing a drink with some fellow attendees in the hotel lounge, use your social channels to invite others to meet up. We know that conferences offer great networking opportunities, but you need to take a little initiative.
If you’re just getting started, keep it simple and send out a general call to action using the event hashtag. However, don’t just start tagging all the people you’re hoping to meet up with. Lay the foundation through your in-person or social media interactions leading up to the conference or throughout your time there.
#9 – Amplify event content and engage with attendees.
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it must be said. Take the time to share other attendees’ content with your network. This not only sends a nice engagement signal to the original posters, but also gives you the opportunity to add your own commentary and provide your audience with quality stuff.
#10 – Don’t forget to be present.
The whole point of attending a conference is to learn and engage in a live environment. So use social media as a tool to enhance your experience and marketing potential, not as a lifeline.
Take a peek at the day’s event schedule and pencil in dedicated social media engagement time throughout the day when you’ll have session and meal breaks. This will pair well with your pre-scheduled posts, and ease some of your anxiety.
When it comes to posting during sessions, pick your content moments. You don’t need to share everything. Take notes and if something really interesting or inspiring comes up, share it with the world. After the session, your notes will provide you with additional fodder to share.
After the Event
#11 – Give shout outs to those you met.
Once the event is over, you don’t want to lose momentum or engagement with the people you’ve met or reconnected with. If you want to nurture your relationship long-term, give them a personalized shout out. Here’s an example from our very own, Lee Odden.
#12 – Share top takeaways.
All good things must come to an end. But when it comes to your conference coverage on social media, I’d bring your efforts to a slow roll rather than an abrupt stop. In the few days following the event, share some of your top takeaways with your following. Of course, make sure to use the conference hashtag, and tag appropriate people in your post.
These thoughts can be done natively in your social media platforms, or consider rolling up all your thoughts in a recap blog post that you can share across your social channels. In addition, continue to share and amplify other similar content from others.
Get the Most Out of Your Next Conference
Looking for more helpful tips to make the most out of your next conference experience? Here are a couple other posts for some additional advice and insights:
What’s your go-to social media hack when attending conferences and events? Tell us in the comments section below.