Twitter seems like it’s tailor-made for using at events. I ran the social media side of things for the NHSScotland Event this week which took place at the EICC in Edinburgh’s West End. It wasn’t a tech audience so the volume was never going to be that high but we managed to get 40 people contributing to the 248 tweets which I reckon is a pretty good result for this sort of event.
Along the way I’ve been noting down some tips:
Stake your claim for the official hashtag early. Ideally you want to include it in the delegate information somewhere so you’ll want to have it prepared before you send stuff to print. Don’t forget about it, otherwise someone else will come up with one and it might not be “on brand.”
Display the twitter feed. There are a few good, free services for this. I experimented with a few and ended up using both Twitterfall and Visible Tweets. All you need to do is input your hashtag and they display all the tweets in real-time. Both have presentation modes as well so they look great on a big screen.
Run a photo competition. Get tweeters snapping pics all over the event and uploading them. Doesn’t matter what service they use as long as they include the hashtag. Offer a prize, doesn’t have to be anything major. This is a great way of getting coverage and encouraging interaction. When it’s all over you could also upload them all to an official Flickr account.
Promote exhibitors who aren’t hooked up. This is an important one. Unless it’s a web savvy event (and most of them aren’t!) then most of the exhibitors will have no idea about Twitter. Make a point of getting around and speaking to everyone. When you find something interesting, tweet about it. Give out their name and stand number. Don’t just focus on your tweeting buddies.
Reach out to other local businesses. This is an interesting one. During my event, local tex-mex restaurant (and local Twitter celeb) Illegal Jacks picked up on the hashtag and ran an offer for delegates interested in a burrito. I’m not sure what the take-up was but it struck me as an excellent idea. Sure, we’d paid for sandwiches for everyone but they’re not prisoners! There will be others as well, maybe promote your friendly neighbourhood taxi firm, or somewhere people can buy umbrellas on a rainy day. Be as creative as you like, it’s all about increasing the buzz about the event and reaching out like this is spreading the love, people.
Do as much of this as you can over the course of the event to stimulate the activity. The reason you need to do this is not for the people who are actually there. What you’re trying to do is capture the flavour of the event for those who can’t attend. It’s about extending the network around the event in order that everyone involved, whether they know it or not, benefit from increased knowledge and understanding of the subject.
I know that to many of my readers this is teaching your granny to suck eggs but my granny was a strict vegan so I never learnt that sort of constraint.
Speaking of people who already know this stuff. Please share any other tips you have in the comments.