"We always include the Twitter handles when we're listing our speakers [in marketing or online]," said Matthew Cibellis, director of programming, live & virtual events, Education Week. He spoke during a recent SIPA webinar titled Best Practices in Social Media Marketing: Boost Engagement, Traffic and ROI. (Members are encouraged to access this and other webinars on the SIPA site.)
"We have a sponsor, we have speakers. It's up to my department to tweet [to those audiences]. We also connect to the Facebook pages using the app functionality that Facebook provides to connect with the pages you like."
Most of us now use social media to promote our publications and events. Writers have handles, events have hashtags and every platform has its own audience. The upcoming SIPA 2016 Annual Conference has its own Twitter handle, of course—#sipadc16. In fact, Cibellis recently tweeted, "You tweeted. OK, now what? Come hear from @BizDaily's @Jaclynbaldovin & me at #SIPADC16." (They will lead the session, Social ROI: How to Measure and Track the Return on Your Social Media Campaigns.)
Marshaling your speakers, sponsors, attendees, etc., to tweet, post, Instagram and anything else for you has become standard business. It may be the best way to get that Holy Grail-like ROI. But Alex Plaxen, founder of a new startup, Little Bird Told Media, says in an Associations Now interview that we're not doing nearly enough.
He wants you to give your social media more lead time before events—as much as half a year. He says that allows time to introduce new social networks among attendees and vendors, so they know what to expect and how to get the most out of it. He likes Snapchat—"[it's] just the new cave painting. It's the way to tell people a story"—and Anchor, a social podcasting platform in which others can respond to voice messages by adding short messages of their own.
"On the mornings of events, he uses Anchor to create the equivalent of short radio shows for attendees to listen to while they're getting ready in the hotel room—while encouraging both speakers and vendors to hop on the feed to add their own pitches to the podcast." That reminds me of the idea of using the few minutes people log on before a webinar to promote other things you're doing. Dead time is no more.
Plaxen also recommends creating event hashtags for different purposes—#HELP for customer service needs or #SOLO for new people. He suggests reworking the traditional helpdesk into something of a social media lounge.
He also wants to correct something else. "A lot of events stop using a hashtag the second the event ends. That's a bad idea," Plaxen says. His team will engage with and respond to attendees—and build that community I would think. And then share analytics with the organizing company and its vendors to see how things went.
Getting back to finding the platforms you need to be on, Diane Schwartz, SVP & group publisher, media communications group, Access Intelligence, spoke on that same webinar about her success with reddit. She was asked how they knew to use that platform for that audience.
"How we found reddit was we asked the editorial team," she said, pausing to reflect on the simplicity of the answer. "'Where do you get your story ideas?' [You should also] ask your sources where they go every day online. Reddit was the number one user group for ad blocking and programmatic in that space; it had the real enthusiasts in that area.
"We do a lot of reader surveys, and we almost always ask them to rank their use of different social media platforms. We do listening tours so to speak to try to see where the engagement is in our different markets. And then [it's] trial and error. We used to be on Pinterest with some of our brands but we weren't getting much engagement and there are only so many hours in the day. So there are some platforms we just have to say, 'See you later,' and come back to another time.
"You should fish where the fish are. You really need to ask your audience."