Social media is great for drawing people to your event, whether you’re tweeting from your booth with a contest, posting to your Facebook page or blogging.
But using social media to help people connect while at the event is easy, too. It just takes a little thought and planning, and using the right tools.
I just signed up to attend Chris Gillebeau’s World Domination Summit in Portland this July. During the process of signing up and confirming payment, I had the option of sharing some limited personal and business information so that other like-minded people can find me and perhaps connect before the event. I presume the thinking would be is that it would lead you to want to connect in person at the site. This approach seems perfectly set-up to help keep you engaged in the event a good 175 days before it kick off, and positions you to connect with people before the event. I’m curious to see what else the organizers will do to foster connectivity in the next few months, as the event gets closer.
Another way to create engagement is to offer some sort of game or activity. SCVNGR is a game about doing challenges at places, which makes it perfectly suited for events. By checking into a series of places and doing an activity, you can earn rewards (if it’s set up that way), as well as network with other people playing the same game. By setting up some kind of reward for an activity, you encourage participation.
Involve those back at home or the office. By sharing hashtags, photos and videos – even live video streaming at chosen times – you are opening the conference or show to those who were unable to attend in person. Granted, you won’t get the same kind of engagement as you will with attendees, but it’s like offering a lifeline to ‘what’s new’ and happening’ at the event to those who aren’t attending.
Foursquare is a useful tool to share tips and comments about event speakers, exhibitors and products. It also helps people find other attendees and share tips on the best restaurants of nightclubs. And by monitoring the conversations on Foursquare and Twitter, organizers can quickly step in to address concerns, solve problems or use the comments to guide a better experience with the things that are working particularly well.