Twitter @Events II

So step one is complete.  You now have a working knowledge of Twitter and Social Media.  Most importantly, you understand that Twitter is an ongoing conversation and not a traditional marketing or selling channel.  So what do you do now?  How do you use Twitter with your event? 

Let me attempt to combine my thoughts with articles and blogs that I’ve corralled. 6 Ways to Utilize Twitter at Your Conference provides some solid observations and ideas from BlogWorld 08.   Ian Skerritt, Marketing Director at EclipseCon in his blog posting Creating a Conference Twitter Community  provides an excellent case study and tips covering everything from setting objectives to offering improvements for next year’s event.  And TwiTip offers up another 6 step process in the blog post Twitter Trumps Online Conference – Six Steps for Using Twitter for Your .Conference or Event.  By no means is this intended to be a comprehensive list, but it should be a pretty good starting point.

So here’s the composite list:

  • Create your Twitter account(s).  You need to determine whether your Twitter identity should be the show or individuals on the show team.  If you have multiple individuals, create multiple accounts, and don’t try to control the individuals.  Let then develop their own voice.  Remember that Twitter is a person-to-person, transparent, open, and honest environment, not a broadcast medium. 
  • Establish a #hashtag for your event.  Very simply this is the # sign followed by an event name, acronym, or abbreviation (e.g., #CES).  It is best to establish the hashtag early and then to start using it in your pre-show tweets to establish its usage.  The hashtag acts as a filter that allows anyone to follow the conversation happening at your event.
  • Develop a strategy to build followers. Invite people to follow you.  Follow other people.
  • List your Twitter accounts on your web site and in all marketing materials. 
  • Feed the Twitter stream to your web site.  Depending on what works best you can stream to your home page or to a separate section.  There are even Twitter apps that allow you do things such as mash up Twitter with Flickr images.  But start with the simplest approach.  EclipseCon created the “EclipseCon Bird’s Nest”.
  • Start by listening but gradually begin to engage in the conversation.  Remember not to be overtly promotional.  Retweet (RT) materials that other people have created.   Establish your voice and your presence in the Twitterverse.
  • Ask  your potential participants what they want at the event.  Send out tweets with questions and ask your followers to retweet to get more input.  You can even embed a poll in a tweet using tools like PollDaddy.
  • In your event promotion (specifically following up with pre-registrants) and on your website, promote the use of Twitter and your #hashtag, but also offer Twitter tips and links to Twitter beginner articles to help those who need some advice to get going.  
  • During the event send tweets with updates, changes, and agenda items.  Encourage your CEO, board members, or other vested leading industry stakeholders to join the conversation. Remember that these tweets should be personal observations, comments, even “newsy”, not promotional.  You may want to provide these folks with some Twitter tips before unleashing them.
  • Encourage your participants to tweet during the event.  You probably want to create separate #hashtags for individual conference sessions to develop an interactive, more tightly defined conversation.  Note that these additional #hashtags can be developed on the fly at the event. 
  • Use twitter for Q&A during sessions and keynotes.  You can feed the Twitter stream to a large screen so that everyone can follow the conversation.
  • Encourage your participants to hold “meet-ups” or arrange them yourself.
  • Post-show keep the conversation going.  Immediately after the show you have a lot of material to work with but even after that dies down stay as active as possible and maintain your presence.

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