A Meeting With No Hashtag Is a #Fail

Don’t make attendees stow their devices. Make social part of the action—starring your event

Go social or go home has become a meeting-planning mantra. Technology and social media are a part of daily life in today’s business world, and your next event shouldn’t be any different.

Planners need to be where the audience already is and, increasingly, that means social networks, according to research. A recent Pew Research Center study found that 73 percent of adults who use the Internet use social networking sites: 71 percent use Facebook, 22 percent use LinkedIn, 18 percent use Twitter and 17 percent use Instagram.

Integrating social media into your next meeting is a proven way to join the conversation and raise awareness for your next event or cause—and generate excitement among your guests. Making social media a focal point of your pre-meeting outreach strategy also ensures people will be counting down the days until the kickoff.

Start by setting up a social event page, hosted on either Facebook or LinkedIn. Of course, official invites can be sent via snail mail or email, but creating an events page lets you generate buzz during the weeks leading up to the event. Guests can also see who else is attending and start conversations among themselves.

  • TIP 1: Make your events page private to create a special feeling of inside value—unless you’re trying to attract as many attendants as possible and mass is your mantra.

Create an event on Foursquare. When guests start arriving, have them check in on Foursquare. Incentivize the check-in by letting guests know that at the end of the night, one random Foursquare user will win a prize.

  • TIP 2: Create prizes and games tied to social media use to encourage networking among guests before, during and after the event.

And what’s a party without an official hashtag? Create something catchy and easy to remember—but unique to your event. Include the hashtag on invites and social event pages. At the event itself, display the hashtag prominently.

  • TIP 3: Encourage people to use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to document the night using the event’s hashtag.

Displaying social media content is the best way to remind people to engage in social conversations (both online and off) during the event. Set up Twitter walls so people can see their conversations in action.

  • TIP 4: Tap into display technology and transform social shares into a key part of the event’s entertainment.

As we well know, social media never stops. So when the PowerPoints have been presented, the tables folded and put away, and your attendees are back at their desks, the real work starts. Use all of that great social content created by enthusiastic guests to write a wrap-up blog post, create a Facebook album, or curate it using tools like Storify and RebelMouse and then post online.