Integrating social media into your association’s conference strategy is something we’ve talked about before and your organization may be old pros by now at using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., while at an event. You might be so used to live-tweeting updates or posting daily recaps of the conference on your blog that it seems tired and your attendees are losing interest. This is why innovation and fresh ideas are the gas that make the engagement train run.
Just like with membership drives, calls to action for lobbying or volunteer recruitment, your association needs to utilize some new approaches to attendee engagement to keep the attention of members. Luckily, we’ve put together three ideas that will give your conference a boost and allow your association to better engage its attendees.
You might have seen this before at a conference or an event of some kind; a monitor showing tweets that use the event hashtag. When one of your attendees, speakers, sponsors or staff tweets out a comment using the hashtag, it appears on the monitor, which is usually set up in a high-traffic area, such as registration or by a networking space.
The Twitter monitor has a few benefits when it comes to attendee engagement. First, it encourages attendees to tweet with comments, pictures or videos of the event because of the 15-minutes-of-fame factor. Attendees can point to their tweet being broadcast to their colleagues and marvel in the novelty factor. Second, the Twitter monitor makes the social media platform even more accessible. Not all your members are on Twitter, so including them in this part of the event through a very public display of tweets can only boost engagement. Lastly, it is a great networking tool you can offer attendees. Their tweets have a better chance of being seen and noticed, which is a great conversation starter between to people who are eager to network.
There are a few different approaches that your association can take with this strategy depending on your budget and technological prowess. You can simply set up a large computer or TV monitor and set it on Twitter to the event hashtag. If you’re looking for a higher-end experience, there are companies that will bring in a screen that looks like a phone and have a program in place to post relevant tweets to the screen throughout the day. Regardless of the method, you must ensure there is a strategy to monitor the tweets coming in; you don’t want any profanity or inappropriate posts making their way onto the big screen.
An Unofficial Association Twitter Account
The attendees of the event who are on Twitter probably know all about your association’s account. They follow the account, know the voice and tone that is used and know what to expect when the account is tweeting at an event. Why not switch things up by keeping the official Twitter account to provide updates, recaps, information and the like, while also creating an “unofficial” association account to inject some fun into the proceedings?
So what exactly is an “unofficial” association account? It is a satirical or parody account that has the benefit of not having to be quite as proper, informative or formal as the official account. For example, there is the Twitter account for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and there is a Twitter account for Ghost of ASAE. Similarly, there is the account for the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open and an account for the RBC Trophy. The former are official accounts and latter are more fun, unofficial accounts.
So what is the benefit of these parody accounts? They let attendees have a bit more fun and cultivates a looser atmosphere for the event. Attendees can interact and follow along with the antics of the unofficial Twitter account while the account subtly promotes the event and the association. This increases engagement and gives attendees two views on the conference; one more education and one more entertaining.
A Digital Idea Wall
When we were at the CSAE’s Summer Summit in July, one of the best experiences we had was creating an idea wall. This activity included groups of 20 writing any idea they could think of to improve the CSAE on post it notes and sticking it to a large sheet of paper taped to the wall. At the end, the eight groups had come up with hundreds of great ideas and were asked to pick their top three, which we then talked about. It was a great exercise and one that can easily be transferred onto social media during your event.
The idea wall activity is one of those exercises that can be work both online and offline at your event. It may be a good idea to capitalize on having so many members in one place at one time by creating a physical idea wall that stands for the duration of the event. Take the momentum that is generated by this actual idea wall and turn it into a digital version that will spur engagement at the event and into the future. At the end of each day of the conference, take the ideas from the physical idea wall and make them into a collage on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and/or your blog. Generate conversation and engagement by asking questions about the collage and soliciting more ideas through social media. Keep it up after the conference by asking for more ideas or having a contest to see which idea members like best by having them vote via social media.
A digital idea wall has a few advantages for your association. It gives credit to those members who participated in the activity during the event, making it even more likely they will participate when it comes time for further opportunities. It was encourages members to interact with your association in a meaningful way, giving members a voice in the direction of the association. Lastly, it creates a talking point for attendees at your conference, which leads to more networking opportunities and more reasons for attendees to approach association representatives with ideas, thoughts and feedback.