I am getting ready to attend #PBEvent for my fourth consecutive year, but packing my bags is not all that I have on my mind. In fact, I am putting way more time into my social media preparations than I am into what I will be wearing. This is not just because I am a social media blogger and not a fashion blogger. It is because I know that social media will be a key element in ensuring that I get the biggest return on my investment in the ticket, flights, accommodation and time away from my business and family.
How To Use Social Media To Prepare For A Conference
Do you know how to use social media to prepare for a conference?
If not, hang around, because I am about to share with you all that you need to know to assist you in getting the most out of #PBEvent or whatever other conference or event it is that you are soon to attend.
Set Your Goals
Like anything else you do in business and life, you will achieve a much better result if you set yourself some goals.
What exactly do you want to achieve from the conference beyond just listening to the line-up of speakers? Think of the following:
- Who do you want to meet?
- Which relationships do you want to further develop?
- Which of you products or services do you wish to highlight in your discussions with other delegates?
- Do you have any challenges that you would like to get input on from any of the delegates in particular?
Set yourself three or four main goals for the conference and make a plan for how you are going to achieve them. But don’t just wait until you get there to start making progress. Any pre-work you can do in advance of picking up your lanyard and session pass is going to increase your chances of achieving those goals.
Follow The Event Hashtag
Most (decent) events these days have an Event Hashtag that is promoted well in advance of the event (and sometimes even all year round) – like #PBEvent for the annual ProBlogger conference. Jump on the Event Hashtag nice and early and get active!
Use it in all of your social media posts related to the event. Start engaging in the posts by others that are using the Event Hashtag also. This is a great way to start to find out who the influencers are and this can make it much easier to strike up a conversation with them when you meet them #IRL (in real life) at the event.
Connect With Other Attendees
The Event Hashtag or event delegate list (if available) are great ways to find out who else is attending. If there is a Twitter List of conference delegates, then even better! There may also be an official social media group or event page set up by the conference organisers that you can join.
However, just joining the group is not enough. You need to be active and get yourself noticed. Introduce yourself. Let people know what you are looking to get out of the conference. Share some information about you and your business without going into your full sales pitch. This is your chance to get on other people’s “I’d like to meet” list.
Don’t sit back and wait for others to make contact though. Reach out and connect with event organisers, speakers and delegates via your social media platform of choice. You will find that people are more likely to connect with you if you let them know that you will be attending the same conference as part of your initial contact.
If the conference doesn’t have an official Twitter list, then consider starting a public list yourself as you start to connect with other delegates. If you keep that list public, then others may follow it also and you may find your followers increasing as people will start to perceive you as an influencer (regardless of whether or not you are).
Organise To Meet Up
Once you have engaged in conversations with a few of your targeted connections, consider organising a time to catch up at the conference. It is very easy to go to a two day conference and never bump into someone that you were chatting to online in advance of the event. Perhaps they look nothing like their Avatar or maybe every time you go near them they are swamped with a line of people waiting to speak to them. You can jump that queue by being organised and planning a place and time to catch up.
Be Socially Active
When you are at the event it is super important that you be “socially active” both on and offline.
Use the event Hashtag, tag other attendees in your posts, re-tweet or re-share other people’s content and engage with those conversations going on around the event online. Several times I have been re-tweeting other people’s content at events only to stand up at the end of the session and realise I was sitting right beside them. This can be a great conversation starter!
Some conferences will have the conference feed displayed on screens within the sessions and around the conference venue. Actively using the Event Hashtag is a great way to get noticed and creates a great icebreaker for others when they are looking to approach you.
However, it’s not enough to be the social butterfly online during the sessions and then curl up into your cocoon when you come face-to-face with other delegates in the breaks. If talking to semi-strangers at events is not your comfort, it’s time to step our of your comfort zone and start networking with others to make sure that you achieve your goals. You can develop relationships online, but it is offline that you cement lasting relationships, so make sure you are getting a balance of both.
Create Visual Content
Take loads of photos – visual content rocks on social media!
But don’t just get snap happy taking photos of random cool images around the venue. Take photos of yourself with the people you meet. This is a great way to remember in context who you have connected with. Those photos will remain on your social media account as a curated history of who you networked with as an ongoing reference for long after the event. It is also a great way to show your followers the calibre of people you have been hanging out with.
Leave A Lasting Impression
Be sure to have a business card or some other goodie that you can leave with any conference attendees that you meet that let’s them know how they can keep in contact with you. Make sure this information includes how they can follow you on social media. You will be amazed how many people will collect your card from you over morning tea and then connect with you whilst they are sitting in the next session. If you target this well, this can be a great way to build your social media followers with people who are interested in your business.
If you can leave them with details of an opt-in offer that you know they will be interested in, then even better as you can be building your email subscriber list before the event is even over.
Blog All About It
Before, during and/or after the event, create a blog post (or several) that highlight those aspects of the conference relevant to your readers. This might be a “How to prepare post” (like this one), a live blog in a session or a conference wrap up that takes on a particular angle relevant to your niche (like this post on “Tips For Using Hashtags At Events: #PBEvent” from last year’s #PBEvent).
A video montage is pretty cool too!
Keep the momentum going long after the event by connecting online with all those people that you met at the event. Work out which people it would be mutually beneficial to maintain regular contact with and then follow up with them in the days, weeks and months after the event to explore those opportunities.
If you see me at #PBEvent or any other conference or networking event, come and say hi! Feel free to use this post as an ice-breaker if you like – it will make my day and get our relationship off to a great start.
Looking forward to connecting with you on and offline!