Guest post by Claire Williams

There’s been a lot said about the power of social networking online in recent years and it is an excellent tool for connecting with new people and promoting your personal brand.  But I’m interested in the ways online networking can interact with real, offline events to the benefit of both, especially in the case of event organizers and attendees.

For organisers, social networking opens up a new world of promotional opportunities and chance to ensure that all attendees have an excellent time at their event.  For attendees, interacting with an event’s online networking can help them feel more at ease and get more out of the day.

So here’s how organisers and attendees can use social networks to get the most out of the event.

Promote Your Event on Social Networks

As an event organiser, social networking is another tool you can and should be using to promote your event to a wider audience.

LinkedIn for example is a hugely popular social site for professionals, and you can add corporate events to it.  To really generate some buzz around the event you can also start conversations related to it .  Try to get speakers or other attendees that you know to join in so that you can get a real conversation happening.

There are many other sites where you can promote your events – pick the one or two where you know that your target audience already hangs out to get the most benefit from your online efforts.

Social Networking Can Help Break the Ice

Have you ever been to a conference or a networking event where you know no one?  And worse, it seems as if everyone there is already the best of friends?  It’s a shy person’s worst nightmare.

But by getting involved in social networks it’s easy to connect with other people who are going to attend the event.  A few days before, you can “introduce” yourself to other attendees, so that on the day networking seems less scary.

As an event organiser you can help by promoting the networks that you are using in all marketing materials.  Put it on your website and in any emails you send to attendees.  You may also be able to help out on the networks themselves.

For example, on Twitter you can create a Twitter list of attendees, start a short, simple and unique event #hashtag for attendees to follow and promote and encourage use of the #hashtag to attendees.

Live Updates Add to the Conversation

If an attendee is live blogging, tweeting or talking about your event on any social network they are helping to promote your event, adding new voices to debates, and they’re making a record of the day.

Not everyone will want to shout out their questions or contributions, but by monitoring online channels you could find new angles, controversial opinions or simply questions that take the conversation in a new direction.

To make this easier tell attendees how to talk to you online and make you aware of their questions and comments.  Let them know which networks you’ll be using and encourage them to join you there.

Organising an event is a brilliant PR strategy, and so is using social networks.  By using the two together you’ll get more out of your efforts and hopefully create a more memorable experience for everyone involved.

About the author

Claire Williams is the Manager of the Staffordshire Conference Bureau, an English organisation offering a free venue finding service to help event organisers to pick the perfect conference venue in the Midlands, UK.

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