Why are we always banging on about online social networking? Because it’s the future, that’s why. Of all the great human technological advances, communications technology is arguably the most compelling because it expands our horizons beyond just speaking to the person next to us, sending a letter or an email or picking up the phone for a natter.
Online social networking allows you to communicate in a live environment with everyone agreeing to use the same basic rules. Here’s how it’s done…
Using the example of a conference or exhibition, social networks like twitter can expand an yours or an event organiser’s footprint by allowing those unable to attend to have an influence on proceedings.
Any conference organiser worth their salt these days needs a handle on the use of social networks as an augmentation of the event’s physical environment and the limitations of time.
We all go to conferences and exhibitions and we talk about them in advance. We ask questions like; ‘what’s the keynote speech going to say?’ or ‘Our exhibition stand is going to be awesome’.
A well planned event – be it a legal seminar, a national conference or a launch party – will enable that conversation to happen with a clearly defined #hashtag that has been publicised in advance.
This was a huge success at the 2011 British Insurance Brokers’ Association conference at Manchester Central, which used the hashtag #BIBA2011 to great effect with exhibitors and delegates tweeting their ideas and opinions before, during and after the event. At one point during the conference, it became the busiest trending topic on twitter in Manchester – the UK’s second largest market for online social network penetration.
Not only does this use of social networking tools allow people at the conference to contribute to the debate, but it opens up an event to outsiders looking in. All one has to do is follow the hashtag and then add their own ten cents if need be, quoting the same identifier. It’s an increasingly popular method of communication nowadays and event organisers must get on board.
Just a few ideas
– Include a well defined #hashtag on invitations, in the delegate packs and maybe even feature it on participants’ name badges.
– Encourage the events team to fuel the conversation before, during and after the event.
– Review the online social feedback after the event. It will give you a better idea of what worked, which speakers to welcome back, if the venue was a success and so on.
Not convinced? Check out recent tags from legal events such as #barconf2011 or #lfconf, and if you’re feeling a little more adventurous try #occupylsx and find out how hashtags have mobilised the masses.
A business journalist by trade, Ralph Savage represents a series of B2B clients on media and marketing matters. He provides strategic PR advice, media training and consultancy. He also ghost writes regularly on behalf of FTSE 250 CEOs, leading counsel and senior professionals including solicitors, accountants and brokers.