This is a guest blog post from Bernie Mitchell, part of the team behind Making Social Part of Your DNA.
It used to be that you had to wait until the morning of your conference or class to meet the other attendees. Now, thanks to social media, you make introductions and connect with people right after registration.
Here are some ways to get people talking about the event ahead of time, so that conversations are already off and running the moment your event starts.
1. Create a unique Twitter hashtag and promote retweeting – of course!
When attendees hit the venue for Bernie’s social media event, they’ll already be acquainted with one another, thanks to social media.
However, people don’t just RT on demand. Get in tune with them by creating content that will enhance their experience or start a conversation. Start following the #eventprofs hashtag for ideas and inspiration.
2. Record video interviews or a podcast and write blog posts.
In the run up to all of our events, we insist speakers do one of these pieces. Good speakers see this chance to engage with the audience beforehand, and therefore create even more of a connection on presentation day. This is less work than it seems; most of this can be done on a smart phone and posted right away.
3. Collect attendee Twitter handles and reach out individually.
This can be labor-intensive but I argue it’s worth the effort. With a smaller event, making that micro connection before will be the on-line equivalent of opening the door personally.
We try and get a few people introduced online beforehand; this is much more elegant that broadcasting, “come to our event!” If people are meeting someone recommended you have instantly created value for them.
4. Do an online icebreaker.
Ask a question of people and get them talking. Perhaps it’s a unique fill-in-the-blank tweet, such as my favorite person to follow on Twitter is @______, my favorite thing about London is ______, my favorite blog is ________. Use these for their nametags at the event, while retweeting answers as they come in to get the discussion and introductions started.
5. Be prepared for the day.
Let people know the hashtag beforehand! We are posting a blog with info such as which Flickr group people can post to, which hashtag to use and who to follow for the day. At a crew level we will have relevant content pre-posted to be published at certain times throughout the day. We are even making an on-line magazine every hour using @getflockler. People love to share their stuff and see it as part of an online collection!