Umar Shaikh, product manager for IdeaCloud, explains how social media walls can extend the event and meeting experience for event organizers by optimizing social media behavior of attendees.
As social media adoption grows at a rapid rate, businesses have flocked to social media platforms to advertise their events, track potential attendees and improve their overall reach. But, there hasn’t been a way to really capture and capitalize on social media during events.
I recently went to a really cool tech conference, and realized that I was really active before the event started--checking the event group, reading up on networking opportunities and interacting with my fellow attendees. But as soon as the event started, I lost that social media connection. The entire social media "pre-party" ended abruptly, and the event didn’t give me a reason to tweet, message or connect my social media network to this event.
Looking back, I realize this event did not engage my social media presence, and I found this lack of engagement to be a recurring theme for other event-goers as well. I realized that currently, event organizers were unable to:
· Collect the events social media feed to analyze and track engagement
· Capture the audience members' huge social media presence during the event
· Interact with their audience through personalized social media platforms
One way to help solve these problems is with social media walls like IdeaCloud. With these walls, event organizers can engage their audience by giving people a reason to tweet and send pictures. More importantly, people who normally wouldn’t use Twitter or Instagram want to participate and are engaged.
With social media walls, event organizers solve these issues by:
1) Collecting and organizing all social media activity in one location to track engagement.
Social media walls can connect to your company's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts simultaneously. All event organizers have to do is pick a hashtag, and any content using that hashtag will be collected on screen in real-time.
Not only does the social media wall organize and present an event's social media presence but it also provides a platform to analyze engagement. Social media walls track high and low points, who tweeted often, which platforms were more popular with the audience, and the event's recurring themes.
Using the analysis provided by social media walls, event organizers are able to adjust their social media strategy to better reach their target audience.
2) Creating a virtual experience to capture the audience’s social media presence
Organizers can also create social media pre-parties that let event-goers network virtually and then use social media streams to facilitate face-to-face meetings during networking sessions. Social media walls are the perfect way to break the ice and provide an easy-to-use tool everyone can use to their advantage.
In other cases, event organizers have used their Facebook events to reach out to potential event-goers and then supplemented their social media strategy with social media walls to incentivize Facebook posts during the event. As event-goers share statuses, tweets and pictures, they become promoters to their own personal networks, thus enhancing an event organizer's overall reach.
The virtual experience also allows users to have their own "15 seconds of fame." Picture walls that use Instagram allow event-goers to upload their own pictures and ideas and get prime viewing real estate on the big screen for up to 15 seconds. Leveraging user-generated content to create an interactive experience goes a long way at conferences.
3) Providing a channel for audience interaction through personalized social media platforms
During speaker seminars, social media walls have been used as vehicles for interaction. Event-goers can use social media streams to ask speaker questions and voice their opinions without any social anxiety. Allowing the audience to interact with speakers through their mobile devices creates an easy-to-use platform for feedback at all levels of the conference. Speakers love social media walls because the walls provide an organized way to answer questions and generate feedback.
Speakers and event organizers can also use social media walls to further engage the audience via polls. Asking the audience to vote on their favorite moments, themes and interests can be relayed for further improvements to the conference.
With everyone dialed into social media walls, event organizers can use this platform for announcements and promotion of sponsors, and can create an interactive atmosphere between organizers and event-goers. Announcement features are critical in reaching large audiences quickly and efficiently.
4) Gamifying the event experience
Recently, event organizers have begun to think outside of the box with social media walls. These walls can also be used to promote contests and create competitive games centered on tweets and Instagram pictures.
Scavenger hunts, tweet-offs and other fun activities play dual roles: The create a fun way for event-goers to interact with one another easily, and they allow event organizers to gather more social media attention and traffic.
Organizers can allow pictures to stay in the center of the projection based on the amount of likes they get. If you’re a social media guru gaining "likes," your picture will stay up for longer than everyone else's. This rewards social engagement through an individual’s personal network and helps advertise events.
Social media walls have the potential to change the event experience. Currently, there is a disconnect between a person’s social media engagement before and during an event. Social media walls bridge this gap by incentivizing behavior that not only engages the audience, but also turns event-goers into active promoters to their personal networks.
Ultimately, social media has the potential to enhance conference experience by providing interactive tools to event organizers and attendants.