In many ways, Twitter feels like it was made with the event management professional in mind. Fast-moving, easy to use, and in-the-moment, it’s a great platform for both live-tweeting and event promotion. But what is it about the social network that makes it such a great fit? A few things, as it turns out.
I doubt you’d find anyone who would disagree that where social networks are concerned, there’s none that moves faster than Twitter. Whereas a Facebook post has the potential to keep engaging users for hours on end, on Twitter you’re lucky if an update lasts more than half an hour before fading into the ether. While this means that Twitter probably isn’t the best medium for deep conversation, it does make the platform uniquely-suited for event management.
And when I say ‘uniquely-suited,’ I mean it’s probably one of the best tools in your arsenal as an event planner. The ephemeral nature of tweets means the platform tends to be more geared towards real-time content rather than evergreen stuff. In other words, it means Twitter is great for event marketing - for keeping your attendees up-to-date about what they can expect at an upcoming conference or trade show.
The platform’s uses go beyond that, too. Through real-time updates, you can ensure guests know about important keynotes, vendors, and VIPs. You can post highlights from particularly well-received presentations that can then be used to generate greater brand awareness.
But perhaps most importantly, you can get a sense of how your attendees feel about your event, and even give them the opportunity to make their voices heard. By centralizing online discussion about your event around a single hashtag, you can generate a steady stream of content which can then be used for event promotion both on the floor and off. When creating said hashtag, you should keep a few things in mind:
Make it memorable. You might be tempted to just attach a hashtag onto the name of your event. If your event is a known quantity such as the Consumer Electronics Show, this might work. On the other hand, if you’re running a smaller conference, trade show, or convention, you’ll need to get creative - possibilities include keywords related to your industry, the year of your event, or an abbreviation of the event name.
Do your research. Search every possible permutation of your proposed hashtag to ensure it hasn’t been done before. More than that, consider everything that could possibly go wrong - how someone might hijack your hashtag, how a misspelling could completely change its meaning, and what you’ll do if the sentiment around your event takes a turn for the negative.
Keep it simple. Most of the people at your event are going to be tweeting from their smartphones. They aren’t going to have time to type out twenty characters. Keep it short, sweet, and simple. The sweet spot is probably somewhere between three and eight characters.
Monitor for misuse. As with every social network, there’s no shortage of trolls on Twitter. During, before, and after your event, make sure you have a team of moderators on-hand to ensure you aren’t inadvertently promoting bad tweets.
Actively engage. Don’t just toss out your hashtag and leave it hanging. Engage with your attendees - like, retweet, and favorite tweets that are worthy of amplification, and respond to questions and comments about your event. Work with people to help them feel more engaged.
In many ways, Twitter is a godsend for event managers. It’s a powerful tool for event marketing. It’s great for attendee engagement. And best of all, it’s dead simple to use.
As an event planner, you really have no reason not to leverage it.
Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton