2011 has been a great year for conferences. I’ve attended more meetings this year than I have done in the past few years combined and it’s all thanks to social media. Some of these meetings, I’ve been physically present at, but equally I’ve been able to take part virtually through using social media tools.
Not all of your target audience can physically attend your events – it might be logistically awkward for them, or work and family commitments may prevent them from going along. But that’s no reason for them to miss out, nor is it a reason for you to miss their input. Here are two ways to bring your on and off-line supporters together at your next event.
Set up a twitter hashtag for your event and encourage attendees to tweet live from the event. I see this working to great effect when I attend conferences – people love to tweet highlights of talks, photos of those present, the room, the speakers, everything they can. It creates a dynamic feel to your event. Your off-line audience get to follow along with the talks and the conversation and they can join in too by tweeting their own questions and comments (using the same hashtag). They can also join in at anytime online by doing a twitter hashtag search. Assign someone from your event management team to curate the twitter conversation using a tool such as storify, which makes no distinction between who is attending in-person and who is there virtually.
2. Live Streaming
Using UStream or another live streaming site you can stream your event live and even let off-line viewers take part with their questions and comments. At the recent Bloggers International forum which I took part in, the organisers used UStream to great effect. Also at this event, organisers ran spot prizes specifically for off-line viewers and those following along on Twitter. They were asked a question and tweeted their answer and the correct answer won a prize. This could easily be adapted for an online auction for your next charity fundraising event.
Do you attend events off-line? What works for you if you do? Can you suggest other ways of bringing on and off-line audiences together?
Tags: attending conference off-line, Bloggers Intermational, charity fundraiser event, charity fundraising ideas, Dalai Lama visit to Ireland, event dyanmics, event management, event management solutions, hashtags, live streaming, live tweeting, marketing for non profit organisations, not for profit marketing, on and off line audience, online event management, social media tools, storify, target audience, Twitter, twitter for business, twitter hashtag, University of Limerick, ustream
And now for your starter for ten.
What is an octothorpe?
The following definition comes from the World Wide Words website
Octothorpe is just one of a plethora of names for the symbol # In the US it’s often called the pound key, because it has long been used to mark numbers related to weight, or for similar reasons the number sign, which is also one of its internationally agreed names. Elsewhere it is commonly called hash, a term dating from the 1970s that may have been a popular misunderstanding of hatch.
So now you know if this question ever comes up in a pub quiz!
But more immediately why should you care about octothorpes or in Twitter parlance, hashtags?
A hashtag is a keyword marked by the # symbol in front of it. When you click on the hashtag it is hyperlinked to all other tweets using that tag, so it is a handy way to categorize tags and connect with others interested in the same topic.
Here is one on my own Twitter timeline for #bcsm (breast cancer social media) which represents an ongoing conversation on Twitter within the breast cancer community.Twitter really comes into its own when it draws interested parties together in a real-time virtual conversation this way and hashtags facilitate the conversation.
I also use hashtags to curate an event, either by building a story on storify (more about that in an upcoming post) or to look back after the event on what people have been tweeting. It is also a useful tool during the event to see who is there that you might like to network with – simply search the hashtags to see who is present and tweeting from the event. This has worked very well for me at several recent events. Furthermore if I can’t attend an event in person, I can follow along on the conversation through the hashtags. It is also a great way to connect on and off line attendees and create a buzz around your event offline.
This is just a simple overview of hashtags for Twitter newbies, and I hope it has demystified the octothorpe for you. So now, get tweeting and don’t forget those hashtags – who knows you may even start to trend if enough people tweet with your tags.
If you have been to a social media conference lately, you may well have seen all the relevant tweets displayed on a big ‘Twitter Wall’. It’s a great way to keep people engaged on Twitter during an event and for people at home to join in with those who attend.
How do you create a tweetwall?
TweetWally helps you easily create a Twitter Wall for projection at your event. The nice thing about TweetWally over some of the other options is that it allows you to customise the colour schemes, allows you to embed it in your website and gives you a url of your choice.
Another great feature is the ‘view for iPhone’ option that is handy for those on the move or those tweeting from their phone at the event.
Bloggers International Tweetwall
Amanda has created a tweetwall for Bloggers International which takes place this Wednesday, so if you can’t make it to the event in person, you can still follow along at www.bloggersinternational.tweetwally.com. If you are tweeting on the day, the hashtag is #BI11.