Yesterday, when a group of event industry professionals gathered in Toronto for Canadian Special Events Expo14, I led a short breakout about the lingo of social media. It quickly became clear that many event planners are struggling to keep abreast of shifts in the social media landscape. For example, no one recognized the logo for Flickr (founded in 2004) and no one had heard of Quora. Some attendees were not familiar with Pinterest.
It's not surprising that keeping abreast of changes and figuring out the dos and don'ts of the various social media channels can be challenging. New players come and go with increasing speed. For example, just before the New Year, I stumbled across Vizify, a dynamic channel founded in 2011 that mixes photos and tweets from tweetstreams to create cool Twitter movies. Last week, the founders announced that Vizify has been purchased by Yahoo. It has already been shelved. The same thing happened with Posterous a couple of years ago after it was purchased by Twitter.
In view of these changes, where should event industry professionals concentrate their social media efforts? It depends.
Two things are certain. It's important to develop clarity about where clients and prospective clients are hanging out in the social media world. It's also important to be clear about objectives and the type of content one wants to share and access.
Here are some quick suggestions. To access:
- Short bursts of information: For busy event planners, Twitter is still the best bet for water cooler-style exchanges and quick access to breaking news, what's new, what's hot, articles, and blogs.
- Longer Updates: On Twitter, the Tweetstream moves rapidly, almost like water gushing out of a fire hose. For a slower pace and more depth, Google+ and the updates on the Home page of LinkedIn are the platforms of choice.
- Conversations: Twitter is ideal for short exchanges and 1-hour Twitter chats about 1 specific topic. For an environment that feels like a series of drop-in lounges, try LinkedIn Groups. The pace is slower and conversations about specific topics can go on for months. Google+ kicks thing up a notch by adding voice and video into the mix. In Google hangouts, the pace is like a an informal Happy Hour at which event professionals gather and get caught up.
- Questions: As discussed yesterday, Quora is the go-to channel for event planners on the go to post questions and find answers.
- Photos: Flickr and Instagram are the channels of choice. Flickr has the larger database of professionally edited photos presented in a variety of sizes. Instagram consists of impromptu photos snapped and posted from smart phones. It's the perfect channel for encouraging attendees to share event photos as they happen.
- Videos: Choose from Youtube and Vimeo. Flickr also has some short video clips.
Like the shape shifters on Star Trek, the social media world will continue to undergo dramatic transformation. Participate at your own pace based on your objectives. Before jumping in, take time to familiarize yourself with the rules, lingo and unique culture of each platform.
Cvent Blog regularly posts tips for getting the most out of social media including A Quick Quora Primer for Event Planners, Twitter Newbie to Twitter Chat Maniac: Simple Steps To Get You Tweet Chatting Like a Pro, 5 Ways to Alienate People on Twitter, and Top 10 Ways to Alienate People on LinkedIn.
Photo Credit: Anne Helmond