Attending professional events and conferences are great opportunities to gain new knowledge, connect with networks and influencers, and promote your brand. They can also be hectic, with overwhelming amounts of information offered, in a format that often seems like a 3-ring circus. While you run between keynotes, panels, and meetings, you can lose an overview of everything else that’s going on around you—and this can mean missed opportunities.
I like to use social media monitoring early, to get the most out of an event. It helps me be as prepared as possible, so that I can efficiently structure my time, and be aware of other attendees I might want to follow or meet up with. Even if it’s an event I’m not attending, I find it’s still helpful for pinpointing engagement and focusing on specific accounts so that I can efficiently follow along remotely. It’s easier to spend my time on engagement when I’ve done my research ahead of time.
USING MONITORING BEFORE
Prior to an event, I will use social monitoring to see what engagement was like for the event in the previous year. This helps me to distinguish any patterns, estimate the engagement level, and take note of trending topics and influencers. I’ll use the information to determine my ad spend and content, and develop or subscribe to lists of speakers, influencers, and participants. Engaging key influencers before the event can be an easy way to a personal introduction, as there may be too much going on at the actual event.
PAIR WITH LISTENING
I usually pair this research with social media listening projects, where I define specific search parameters to gather related data. Listening helps me deep dive into specific topics that I identify in monitoring, and gather data from a multitude of sources for a well-rounded overview. If I look at each topic covered at the event, I can set up listening to see what bloggers are saying on the topic, and what else has been published. Events usually provide a limited amount of time to ask questions directly of speakers and industry influencers. Gathering information through listening gives you a broad range of the most up-to-date information, and allows you to ask meaningful questions when you have that sliver of an opportunity to talk to the experts directly.
Armed with this information, I know where I need to focus, and from here I can develop my event coverage strategy. If I realize that I need help in coverage for a particularly large event, or due to time zone issues, I’ll bring it up to the team at this point to coordinate.
I’ll also try to figure out if more than one hashtag is being used for an event, and will usually confirm with the coordinators what the official hashtag will be. This can avoid a ton of confusion the day of, and will help you better target your ads. I can also decide which of my own content I’d like to highlight using the event hashtag, and by seeing what else is trending from my monitoring results.
USING MONITORING DURING
During an event, I love to use monitoring to watch hashtags, and share and engage on relevant topics. At events with multiple breakout sessions, I find it really helpful to keep an eye on what’s going on in the other tracks.
Since events can bring together people from different locations, it’s the perfect occasion to meet contacts and influencers in person and have great conversations. With monitoring, I can find the people I want to talk to and see what they’ve been talking about.
USING MONITORING AFTER
Events can be energizing, and it’s so motivating to come together as a community. The buzz doesn’t always end at the end of the event. I’ll usually continue monitoring hashtags and will leave listening projects open to catch mentions and the post-event blog posts. This highlights engagement opportunities, helps me to identify great industry resources to follow, and reinforces my community with some new event buddies.
Conference photo, Sebastiaan ter Burg, via Creative Commons.