The Benefits Of Social Media At Events


I’ve been involved in a fair amount of event planning recently and, as a social media evangelist, I have increasingly been using online media platforms as both promotion and as a way of encouraging and extending discussion and debate during the events themselves. This is a topic that has been written about extensively but, often, they tend to be simple lists of tips with mind blowing insights like ‘use twitter’ or insider knowledge like ‘Facebook has quite a lot of users, use that’. Other articles focus on damage control – i.e. moderating feeds to get good, cherry-picked content that leaves the event organisers looking good. This may be acceptable in some instances but it is pretty much verboten when you work, as I do, for a freedom of expression advocacy organisation.

In any case the thing I really took away from the event were the basic numbers:

a. Number of physical attendees: 68

b. Number of twitter users talking about event: 51

c. Combined audience (a. + total follower count of b.): 67709

All the twitter figures are approximate (I can’t pay for fancy reports so had to do it manually which means I undoubtedly missed stuff) but, nicely enough, because I was using fairly basic tools to locate tweets all these things could be scaled up. Also, calculating the ‘true reach’ of these tweets is, again, something I’d have to pay for/spend a lot of time doing so I’m also probably underestimating the size of the audience there as well. Regardless of these limitations it’s a pretty remarkable scaling up vis a vis the real world vs the interwebs:

This was more or less pointless as a visual indicator

68 out of 67709 = 0.10042978

Pretty much a no contest then. The actual physical audience made up something like 0.1% of the actual potential audience. Of course, without their engagement in the venue (which was more or less at capacity, it was a fairly intimate space) there never could have been such engagement online so many thanks to them for their interesting questions and discussions – some of this online discussion can be seen here, courtesy of @JoBrodie.

Bear in mind these stats come from a (almost) purely Twitter based campaign. I did a couple of Facebook tie ins but they were just reposting tweets I’d sent about the event. We didn’t livestream – I would have loved to have done it but there wasn’t really time/will/money to organise it – so this was almost purely a text driven promotion. I did, it must be said, harass people to tweet about it, helpfully reminding them what the hashtag is several thousand times as well as projecting their comments on the wall while the thing was going on.

Helpfully snapped by robertsharp59

Quite a weird angle here but it shows off a few of the tweets from the day and, in the bottom right, one and a half of the panelists. You can more or less see here that both audience and panelists could see the screen – at one point a question on the screen was addressed and answered by a panelist – which, in my view, is much more conducive to conversation than having a screen behind the panel; the conversation is what matters.

These are my main three points:

  • Choose a hashtag, promote the tag, talk about it as much as you can.
  • Scour your feeds for users with followers and ask them to get involved, it doesn’t matter if they aren’t relevant experts or big media stars or celebrities, you want numbers!
  • Remind your guests about the online aspect before, during and after.
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2 thoughts on “The Benefits Of Social Media At Events

  1. Follow up reports would be my instant suggestions – check out storify or whatever to do a nice little summary of interesting debates or suggestions. Curating and analysing, to an extent, lets you enliven the topic again, then you send that to your interested parties and see what happens

  2. Interesting observations. My quandary has always been how to keep the conversation going after an event (where necessary). Any thoughts?

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