Social media is a great tool to promote your conference — before, during, and after. More and more organizations are using Twitter and other social media tools to highlight conference topics and “stream” keynotes. Here are six ways to build hype around your conference and to engage your attendees.
Flickr — Create a Flickr group and ask attendees to post their photos directly into this group. You’ll get a variety of conference perspectives, and you may even get some photos you can use in future promotional pieces (with permission, of course!) Here’s a sample of AIGA DC’s group in action.
Twitter — Create a hashtag (hashtags help organize content on Twitter) for your conference — try to keep it between 6-8 characters total. Promote the hashtag in your conference promotions, onsite, and have speakers reference it at the beginning of workshops. At SXSW, speakers created hashtags for their individual lectures and encouraged attendees to ask questions through the session hashtag and the conference hashtag. The hashtagging allowed at-home attendees to be involved in the conversation as well. See how SXSW does it.
Facebook — Set up an event page or group page specifically for your conference. It will create a sense of community as more users register and share information about hotels, carpooling, and restaurant reservations. Additionally, through the administrative tools for the page, you’ll be able to remind members of specific deadlines (early registration or hotel reservation close dates) quickly and easily. IEDC does a good job with their page.
Blogging — Engage a group of members, vendors, sponsors and staff to blog the event for you. With a large group of authors, you’ll be able to cover more varied topics, and your readers won’t feel like they are only hearing from your association. Encourage speakers to participate as well, and with their continued insight, you’ll be able to continue the conversation after the conference. The PAnel is a good example of this.
Live Streaming — Pick a signature aspect of the convention and stream it to the members who are unable to attend. Time the event so that at-home viewers can be at their computer (lunch time) and promote the Twitter hashtag to allow these viewers to “phone in” their questions. Here’s an example from ACC.
Live Website — Create a portal for combining your Twitter traffic, YouTube posts and Flickr feed. The site can be created fairly easily by pulling in the RSS feeds from the external sites. Open the site up as a sponsorship opportunity and promote it your entire mailing list. Here’s AIGA’s “live site”.