6 ways you must use social media for your event

MTCC how to use social media for your event

In my line of work, I do a lot of creeping researching. When you’re the Social Community Specialist for a venue as large and as busy as the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, you know your role will require you to stay abreast of what’s happening at all times. That said, my attention is always split among the various events we have in the building and the many more we have coming up. Following each event’s hashtag and monitoring multiple conversations at a time are key.

(And, let’s be honest, there’s a lot of fun that comes with this aspect of my role, which can essentially be chalked up to socially acceptable eavesdropping. But I digress…)

My daily monitoring of social media interactions indicates how engaged attendees will be online when they are here for the actual event. And recently, one event in particular stood out months before it was slated to take place.

Posts were a plenty, and much of the excitement was being driven by the association hosting the event. The momentum of the conversations naturally sped up and peaked once this 7,000-person group from 100 different countries was in our building, and when all was said and done I was not surprised to learn that the association’s social media stats were through the roof. Engagement was higher than they had ever seen, and their follower growth spiked as well. In just 4 short days here at the Centre, their follower base grew by roughly 6 per cent on both Facebook and Twitter, and their event hashtag had made more than 11 million impressions. This association had done something right. But what was it? Let’s back up a bit.

The association in question was the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH), and I caught up with them about their social media campaign for their 2015 congress. They revealed which efforts paid off and what they plan on doing differently the next time around. Here are the main takeaways for you as you plan your next meeting or event…

  1. Develop a hashtag from the getgo and use it. Often.

Because ISTH’s congress was years in the making, so, too, was their event hashtag. #ISTH2015 was short, simple, and therefore easy for attendees to remember. And because this group is forward thinking, they already made the decision to use the same hashtag every year and just change the year. Once they had the hashtag, they immediately started using it as the congress began to take shape. That said…

  1. Start the conversation well before the event begins

ISTH has been fairly active on social media over the past few years. With an already established following of members, they started posting about the 2015 summer congress in 2013, a full two years before it was scheduled to take place. While the big social media “push” for the event didn’t begin till fall 2014 after registration had opened, having already started the conversation not only kept the meeting top of mind, but it drummed up excitement as well.

  1. Create momentum and post regularly

One of the worst things a company or association can do is start talking about an event, only to let the subject taper off and be forgotten. ISTH kept the momentum going by sharing news of the developments of #ISTH2015 week after week.

  1. Create intriguing content

While the posts that sparked particularly high levels of engagement were related to groundbreaking science delivered at the congress, others that made great traction on social media were pre-planned social media-driven events. ISTH received a rush of online interactions during a planned Twitter chat, and the same thing happened for an event that was, let’s say, a little more out of the box. They hosted a blood clot flash mob in the middle of their trade show floor. You read that right. And as you can imagine, the flash mob was the perfect move to spark not only meaningful conversation (this was a medical group after all), but widespread photo sharing as well.

  1. Drum up support from your partners

ISTH connected with sponsors, corporate partners, their host venue (us, the Convention Centre), and Toronto’s tourism body, Tourism Toronto, early on. Each party was kept in the loop as the congress developed, and encouraged to use the official hashtag and engage with members on social media. The influence from these additional resources kept information about the event flowing, excitement growing, and conversations strong.

  1. It’s all happening live; are you ready?

And the one thing ISTH would do differently? Manpower. ISTH prepared posts ahead of time and stayed active throughout the conference, but with thousands of people in attendance, they say they could have used more eyes on social media. Come 2017’s congress, ISTH plans to have an additional one or two staff members devoted to monitoring their accounts and hashtag, which will not only bolster even more engagement, but allow them to address the real-time experience of attendees as well.

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