It’s true Shelby and I have discussed this topic before, but in the past six months we’ve spent a good deal of time at trade shows, conferences and other face-to-face events so we decided to update our advice. Yesterday, Shelby took an approach of explaining what she likes to do social network by social network. Today, I’m taking a timeline approach to what I recommend, before, during and after the event.
Before the event
When appropriate, promote your participation in the event on your blog, via email and on social networks. For example, we’ve had our post about the upcoming SheStreams event where we’ll be speaking as part of our home page slide show on this site since we accepted their offer to speak. There are a couple of good reasons to do this. First, you’re helping the event organizers promote their event, which ultimately should help you with a larger audience. Second, you’re letting your audience know where they can go to meet you or see you speak live.
In her post yesterday, Shelby mentioned a plain text email we recently sent to our ColorMetrix email list. The purpose of the email was to let our ColorMetrix community know I’d be at an upcoming trade show. The email resulted in several engaging email conversations and a couple of last minute meetings arranged while I was at the show. Plain text emails are a great way to reach people who might be in transit to the event because there is an increased likelihood they will read the email on a mobile device.
There’s also nothing wrong with letting your social networks know you’ll be at an upcoming event. I typically do a shout out on each of my main networks (Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin) a day or so before the event. This is just another way to let people know where you will be.
During the event
My strategy varies depending upon the type of event I’m attending. At a conference like WordCamp Phoenix, which we recently sponsored and attended, my goal was to live tweet at least two or three useful pieces of information from each session I attended. By doing so, I was sharing with my community in a useful way and creating notes that I can refer back to at the end of the day.
At a trade show, it’s more about finding interesting pictures to take and share. Sometimes, that’s just a crowded aisle shot letting folks know the event is well-attended. It might be a picture of a piece of technology I find that is interesting. If I run into someone I know that the social media community would find interesting, I ask to get a picture with them. At trade shows, I’m looking for more human interest and technology pictures that folks back home will find interesting.
At both types of events, I follow the event hash tag on Twitter. If I see that someone I’ve been trying to meet is at the event, I will reach out to them directly and suggest a meeting. I’ve had great success with this technique in scheduling last minute meetings.
After the event
Again, what I do changes based upon the type of event. Typically after a trade show I don’t do much. I might sort through the pictures I’ve taken and, if I find a good one that hasn’t yet been shared, I’ll do so.
After most conferences, I do a follow-up blog post with my takeaways from the event. Remember those tweets I shared from the sessions I attended? I go back and look at those and they become bullet points from which I build the post. This post becomes a resource not only for the community but also for myself when I need a reminder of what I intended to research further after the event.
Now, it’s your turn. How do you utilize social media to maximize your effectiveness before, during and after face-to-face events?