Skip to main content

Social Media Isn't Only for Virtual Events

Note: this is a guest post from Cece Salomon-Lee, social media relations expert and author of the PR Meets Marketing blog. Cece has previously guest-posted here on best practices in PR and blogging outreach.

Virtual events have received a lot of attention recently as an effective way to communicate with your audiences without the costs associated with an in-person event. One argument against virtual events is that you would lose the intimacy that face-to-face interactions provide. Proponents state that social networking technology can help promote similar interactions in a virtual environment.

I recently wrote that virtual events aren't necessarily the answer to replacing physical events. The same goes for social media technology. In this case, social media isn't only for virtual events. For example, the TED and South by Southwest (SXSW) events are known for their innovative use of technology to engage audiences—both in person and online—with the events themselves.

Three factors for success

Before you start using social media technology, first consider why these conferences were successful to begin with. I believe these three factors contributed to their success:
  • Know Your Audience: These organizers know their audiences are invested in the content and success of the events. They also know that their audiences are early adopters of technology to receive, consume and communicate information to each other. If your audience prefers pen and paper to a keyboard and computer screen, then social media technology may not be appropriate for your event.


  • Use Technology to Enhance the Experience, Not Replace it: SXSW is where Twitter gained its prominence as a way for people to stay in touch with what was happening throughout the whole venue. This past year, SXSW allowed people to vote on the panels they wanted to hear at the conference. This increased the level of participation and ownership that audiences had with the content and speakers, as well as forced speakers to plan months before their actual presentation date. With TED, they started posting videos of the presentations online to share the knowledge with individuals unable to attend. And they did it for FREE. This doesn't cannibalize on their paid registrations. Rather it enhances the experience for those attending the conference.


  • Build a Community: Conferences tend to be unsatisfying one-night stands. You get excited to go to the event, you see everything in three days, but you never hear from the organizer until they're ready to promote the event again. The difference with TED and SXSW is that they created a sense of community over time. While not every conference will be an instant community, I do believe that the "traditional" ways of marketing and driving attendance to an event have changed.

So You're Ready for Social Media

If the above doesn't daunt you, then how do you begin incorporating social media into your event? Here are four ways to start incorporating social media for your next event:
  • Promote engagement BEFORE the event: Look at how technology, such as microblogging, blogs or group pages, can increase your engagement with audiences, as well as connect people with one another. As I mentioned above, SXSW solicited input on speakers and panel topics as part of the call for papers process.


  • Provide a channel for communications DURING the event: Conferences are ceasing to be one-way presentations to audiences. Rather, there are back channel conversations happening throughout an event. Look at how you can tap into these conversations to help enhance live presentations or to promote discussion with your attendees. For example, use Twitter to solicit feedback and questions from the audience during a live panel discussion.


  • Consider different avenues for distributing your content: Conference proceedings are typically provided to only paid attendees. Consider how to leverage the different ways to distribute your content—photos, video and audio—not only to paid attendees but key audiences who become interested in your event due to the "buzz" online. For example, post presenter slides on Slideshare.net in advance of the event. Attendees can provide feedback or questions which can further enhance how the speaker presents at the conference. The preso also serves as a promotional vehicle to drive registrants to your event.


  • Continue the conversations AFTER the event has concluded: This may be the most difficult part of social networking. If your event is targeting an audience that doesn't have an existing community or your event is unique enough, then you may be able to create a community. The tendency is to create a proprietary platform for your community, but your audience may dictate using an existing platform, such as Twitter or Facebook.

Conclusions


Like any event, social media takes time and patience. There is no magic technology or technique for success. Rather it takes strategic planning, time-consuming execution and constant evaluation to find the right mix for your event. If you're willing to put in the time and effort, then your social media efforts will succeed.

The key thing to keep in mind is that social media is to help promote communications not only with you and your audience but also amongst the attendees as well.

About the Author

Cece Salomon-Lee is the author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, social media and marketing. Her blog is ranked on the Ad Age 500 and other top ranked PR lists. If you're interested in learning how Cece can help your programs, she can be reached at cece.lee[@]gmail[dot]com.

*****


Contact Mike Bannan: mike@digitalrdm.com

Comments

Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

All Time Greats

How to Use SEO: Leverage SEO To Be Found Online and Boost Your Online Marketing

All businesses that want to attract customers online, no matter the business size or age, have few options other than Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  SEO In The Box™ by Results Driven Marketing®, LLC There are roughly 1.8 billion websites online, and basic SEO allows Google to find and index or catalog your webpages.  After that, Google serves you up to searchers in the organic section.  The question remains: where they list your site, on page one or page 22 or further back? SEO controls your positioning. Do you want to be found online or not? If your business is online or you want your product or service to be found online, then Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a must, and knowing how to use SEO to leverage the power of the internet is vital. Arguably, an effective SEO strategy gets you on the organic results section of the search engine results pages (SERP). Organic traffic is highly valuable and requires high-quality SEO. But even businesses that use l

Email Campaign, Newsletter and Banner Ad Click-Through Rates (CTR)

When planning online advertising and email promotion budgets, it's critical to calculate the likely ROI upfront whenever possible, as well as to establish campaign benchmarks. The first step is understanding the average and likely range of CTRs for various programs. The growth in online advertising, the proliferation of enewsletters, the emergence of new forms of information delivery such as RSS and the emergence of social media sites have all affected CTR, so planning based on current data is crucial. It can be challenging to find current statistics, but based on several studies, these are typical CTR ranges for email newsletter ads, email campaigns (blasts or internally-produced enewsletters), and banner ads. Email newsletter advertisements Open rates range from 28-40%, with an average of about 33%—meaning that roughly one-third of the subscriber base is likely to see your ad. The Advertising Is Good For You blog tracks these statistics from DoubleClick . The average CT

Google and the Parable of the Turkey

In The Black Swan , Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about the life of the turkey: for 100 days, the turkey is sheltered, fed and cared for by the farmer. The turkey grows to trust the farmer completely, even perhaps developing a fondness for the farmer (and of course the feed). Then, on the 101st day (with Thanksgiving quickly approaching), the relationship between the turkey and the farmer changes abruptly and permanently. The rationale behind the farmer's apparent benevolence become clear in a final flash before the turkey takes the necessary step preceding de-feathering, vacuum-packing, freezing and shipping off to the market. Taleb's lesson for us from this: don't be a turkey. More succinctly, don't assume that the future will resemble the past, or, in the words of mutual fund prospectuses , "past performance is no guarantee of future results." Also, remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Of course, that doesn't take into account the pe

Top Notch Digital Marketing Tip: Google AdWords and PPC

Looking for some online marketing strategy or social media tips to grow your business? Well, you’ve come to the right digital marketing resource! Web Market Central has been doling out the proper digital marketing advice for years. And as you already know, marketing to customers online is 100 times easier than using dated, expensive and traditional marketing tactics. Like seriously, who uses billboards in 2019? But you already know how effective digital marketing can be in the modern age. So now that you're totally convinced of what you already knew, let’s give you today's top-notch digital marketing tip! The Pure Unfettered Power of PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and PPC Campaigns Just like optimizing your site to rank for keywords, you can use our online marketing tips to pay to run advertisements on Google so that your business is shown on the first page of search engine results. Ranking this way is instantaneous whereas SEO (Search Engine Optimization) takes some

Best of 2008: Social Media Optimization, Part 6

This content has been moved to Best of 2008: Social Media Marketing on the Webbiquity blog. ***** technorati tags: online video SEO reputation management social bookmarking social media marketing SEO and reputation management Search Engine Journal Loren Baker Google Video ClipShare PHPmotion 30 largest social bookmarking sites Anything Goes Blog Stuntdubl social media can increase revenue Social Media Today Jacob Morgan increase blog traffic How To Make My Blog Marko Saric what not to do in social media Interactive Insights Group Robin Broitman social media gaffes Target Motrin Starbucks Whole Foods FedEx del.icio.us tags: online video SEO reputation management social bookmarking social media marketing SEO and reputation management Search Engine Journal Loren Baker Google Video ClipShare PHPmotion 30 largest social bookmarking sites Anything Goes Blog Stuntdubl social media can increase revenue Social Media Today Jacob Morgan increa

Top-Notch Digital Marketing Tip: Advertisements That Make Sense

Looking for some online marketing tips to grow your business? Well, you’ve come to the right digital marketing resource ! Web Market Central has been doling out the proper DM advice for years. And as you already know, marketing to customers online is 100 times easier than using dated, expensive and traditional marketing tactics. Like seriously, who uses billboards in 2019? But you already know how effective Digital Marketing can be in the modern age. So now that you're totally convinced of what you already knew, let’s give you today's top notch-digital marketing tip! Advertisement Congruence If your business is running ads this is one of our most important online marketing tips! Ad congruence is when your ads and landing pages look alike or have the same message. Have you ever clicked on an ad and been taken to a page that looked nothing like the ad? When your ads look like the web pages they lead to, customers will feel like they are in the right plac

Web 2.0 Social Tagging Sites, Part 2: The Worst

Although I generally try to keep the tone of this blog positive and avoid disparagement, it's important to expose what doesn't work as well as what does. Saves you the time and trouble. With that in mind, here are 11 Web 2.0 social tagging sites to avoid. If the owner of any of these sites cares to fix their problems and contact me, I'll be happy to post an update. folkd.com On my first attempt at registration, I tried five different email addresses; the service kept saying "email address already in use. Please use another or click 'password forgotten.'" There was no link to "password forgotten" on the page. My second attempt at registration went more smoothly until I reached the account activation page from their activation email, at which point I copied the activation code they had sent and got an error stating "Could not activate your account! Please insert a valid activation ticket to activate your new account." After the third at

Book Review: Website Optimization

This post has been moved to Book Review: Website Optimization – Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets on the Webbiquity blog. ***** technorati tags: Andrew B. King, Web Site Opimization LLC, Website Optimization: Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets, book review, Wordtracker, SEO insights, social networking, Marketleap.com link popularity tool del.icio.us tags: Andrew B. King, Web Site Opimization LLC, Website Optimization: Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets, book review, Wordtracker, SEO insights, social networking, Marketleap.com link popularity tool icerocket tags: Andrew B. King, Web Site Opimization LLC, Website Optimization: Speed, Search Engine & Conversion Rate Secrets, book review, Wordtracker, SEO insights, social networking, Marketleap.com link popularity tool Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom