. How to Plan an Effective Social Media Strategy for Your Events | Successful Meetings

How to Plan an Effective Social Media Strategy for Your Events

Here are hints and tips that can help your organization communicate more effectively via high-tech channels

Scott Steinberg Netiquette

Social networks are one of today's most popular forms of online communication, as utilized daily by billions of users worldwide. So it's no surprise to find that many meeting and event planners have also jumped on the bandwagon as well. However, it's important to note that from an organizational standpoint, certain rules of conduct, and best practices with regards to corporate communications, must be observed when conducting outreach via these mediums. But as I note in the new book Netiquette Essentials: New Rules for Minding Your Manners in a Digital World, planning an effective social strategy doesn't have to be difficult. Here I offer several hints and tips that can help your organization communicate more effectively via high-tech channels:

Before launching a social media campaign or presence for your meeting or event, make a detailed study of the sites, platforms, and services where your desired audience can be found, and that best align with your business' long-term goals and objectives. Focusing attention and presence on these sites will help you maximize outreach efforts and user engagement (and use time and resources most wisely), rather than causing you to be spread thin and participate less effectively across a wider range of vehicles. Frequency and reach are basic marketing principles, as is audience targeting: Concentrating your aim makes it easier to hit your target than employing a shotgun strategy.

Remember that each social network has its own features, personality, and community: Study the outlets your brand will participate in, and understand the different nuances so that your message is not simply carbon-copied across each forum in the exact same way. Audiences differ, as do consumption models across social media vehicles: A one-size approach won't work here. However, while social vehicles may vary, make sure your message and brand are consistent and cross-promoted across channels: Establishing a style guide and dedicated social team or member can be tremendously helpful to helping maintain consistency of tone, image, and overall user impression and takeaway.

The more compelling and meaningful the content your meeting or event brand shares via social media, the more your customers will engage with it. The key question to ask yourself at every turn: "What's in it for them?" Encourage people to communicate, comment, and interact with you. One example might include placing a call to action (i.e. a request for viewers' thoughts and feedback) at the bottom of every post. Incentivization is key here -- think about the action steps you want readers or viewers to take, and what would drive users to take them. Create a two-way conversation that encourages your attendees to want to help you promote your message. Simply blasting information out to them is less effective than soliciting their commentary and input.

Be a good go-to resource. Make sure your content is useful and informative, and give visitors tips, links to helpful articles and sites, and other pertinent information. Likewise, don't be afraid to shout out or partner with outside organizations, individuals and influencers who share common philosophies and interests that align with your event -- win-win is always the way to go. Make sure your content and outreach initiatives are relevant to, and create worth for, your customers -- this necessitates looking at promotional efforts from new angles, so that the focus is on them, not you.

Make sure your messages meet specific criteria before posting, including: Is the post fun and imaginative? Is it energetic and enthusiastic? Does it draw attention with cool and exciting details? The goal should be to make content inviting, interactive, and accessible -- and to deliver a great deal of small, bite-sized items frequently, while encouraging others to interact with you around these pieces of content. Ask questions, start conversations, and otherwise encourage prospective attendees to share and participate in dialogue.

As you can see, it's all in the presentation: Finding ways to engage audiences more interactively and tell stories online is key to successfully promoting a modern meeting or event. The more you can encourage dialogue, and more you can incentivize others to participate and share, the more you'll find your efforts to surprise and delight others will connect -- and the more meaningful any given event or special occasion will be.

Award-winning professional speaker Scott Steinberg is among today's best-known trends experts and futurists, and the bestselling author of Netiquette Essentials: New Rules for Minding Your Manners in a Digital World, Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty and Millennial Marketing: Bridging the Generation Gap. The founder of Select nightlife magazine, and host of Next Up on NewsWatch, his website is www.AKeynoteSpeaker.com.