When you're holding an event or large-scale meeting, you have the same hopes as event planners everywhere: You want speakers who bring excellent ideas to the forefront and attendees who are fully engaged and help amplify those ideas through Twitter.
But how often does your event meet your social media expectations? Unfortunately, it’s probably less often than you’d like to admit. The reason? It's more often because of what you're not doing rather than what you are doing.
To amplify your social media sharing, the most common practice is to share a hashtag with attendees, then cross your fingers that it will initiate a flurry of comments, ideas and networking. The reality is, creating awareness around a hashtag is difficult, especially with attendees who eagerly add spaces or make changes to your hashtag, making it useless.
To truly spread an event’s buzz past the venue and into the Twittersphere, employ these five smart ways to better engage your audience:
Offer an Incentive
Why do we tweet? Often it’s just to be the coolest, smartest, most clever person in the room. For some attendees, that’s incentive enough, but when you’re looking for all your attendees to take part in the conversation, you’ll need more than a hashtag to get things moving.
Offer a reward to the most retweeted message as an incentive to those in the audience who go above and beyond. The prize could be a one-on-one with a speaker, special event seating, or even face time with the company CEO. These rewards will give your audience a reason to sign out of Flappy Bird and engage wholeheartedly in the session at hand. This leads to higher quality interactions.
Turn It Into a Game
Not everyone can win a prize, but all attendees can be in the game. Awarding points, badges and, most important, real social rewards for social media interaction is a unique way to keep those varying attention spans engaged. There’s a little bit of competitiveness in all of us, and once attendees see themselves slipping to the bottom of the leaderboard, they’re bound to get more involved even if only to give themselves a respectable score.
The point of any event is to network and share ideas, and every event organizer should help facilitate these two key behaviors. Perhaps you could make networking part of the incentive by rewarding interaction between attendees but also by encouraging the sharing of ideas with people who aren't in the room. To have a truly successful Twitter impact, the ideas presented at the event should be shared with thought leaders who aren't in attendance. This will help showcase your event's highlights and get extra marketing reach directly from your audience.
Use a Tool to Get Organized
Your event is being held in a venue, and your social media should be, too. Everyone should be on the same page at the event as well as on their mobile devices. Most event apps display the agenda, but following a Twitter hashtag tool like HootSuite or using an interactive event app like livecube that auto populates the hashtag and connects everyone in the room gives attendees the ability to focus more on sharing content and not searching for Twitter handles and hashtags. With the use of the right app, your event is no longer something just floating out there in the internet, but rather an organized event attendees can participate in with their mobile devices. It puts everyone in one virtual location where ideas flow more freely without the distractions normally on Twitter.
Build Technology Into Your Event
As the event's emcee, you can drive the message. By encouraging people to be active on Twitter, responding to them in real time to show they're being heard, and rewarding the best ideas, you’ll see the use of social media take off in the room. Using technology that reaches everyone in the room, such as an audience response system like Eventpad, a Twitter wall display like TweetWall or even an engagement app like livecube, is a great way to help people engage and crowdsource the most important ideas at the event.
Putting on a trend-worthy event doesn’t just happen. There’s a lot of groundwork to take care of before your first attendee walks through the door.
Using the right event technology can ignite your audience and their social media efforts. For your next event, consider using event technology to focus your attendees' behavior, gamify the experience and bring the best ideas to light. Maybe you’ll even start trending on Twitter.
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