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How to bring your on and off line audience together

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.

1. Twitter 

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?

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