How to Capitalize on New Social Media Behaviors at Your Next Meeting

Children are penalized for passing notes in class, but does that stop them? No! and the fact that they can now do it electronically through smart phones, iPods and other digital assistants has made the behavior that much more irresistible.

Likewise, attendees at meetings and trade shows often wear themselves out texting even while they opine how face-to-face meetings are best. Here's how to turn this social media (SM) behavior to your advantage:

Create a Twitter hashtag for your meeting or conference. Nowadays, the buzz starts growing way before the event, as colleagues Tweet each other, arranging Meetups, Tweetups, swarms, and other pseudo-spontaneous events attached to your meeting.

Speaking of Tweetups, get used to these autonomous events. Attendees see them as networking opportunities that add value to your overall program; and unlike phone calls, you can track SM, which means you can track the ROI.

TEST your hashtag to make sure it's unique enough not to intercept a lot of random Tweets. For example, this year's Motivation Show gets points for making its hashtag short (5 characters), but the actual tag, #moti, picked up hundreds of Japanese language Tweets, making show Tweets too intermittent to grow buzz.

MAKE SURE you have enough bandwidth and an easy (and free) login in the meeting and exhibit area. Otherwise, attendees are just going to wander around, trying to catch a signal.

If you're going to display Tweets, have them monitored. A Tweet about your speaker's goofy hair, projected behind him/her for all to see, will not be appreciated.

Speaking of speakers, you can use Twitter to audition potential speakers. Twitter-search the speaker's name and get the buzz. For example, Reggie Aggarwal, President and CEO of Cvent, recently gave such an engaging and impassioned speech at the Digital East Conference (October 18, 2010, Tyson's Corner, VA) that audience members began Tweeting their excitement. As a result, more people came to hear him, swelling the initial attendence by 30%. Here are a few examples of what was being said during Reggie's presentation.

Reggie Aggarwal (Cvent): find the customer pain points and create an aspirin (not a vitamin). Insightful...#digitaleastless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Cvent founder Reggie Aggarwal tells an inspiring tale of believing in your vision through thick and thin. #digitaleastless than a minute ago via Twitter for Android

face to face product seminars work better than webinars & keep it small so everyone is not on blackberries and paying attention #digitaleastless than a minute ago via Seesmic Desktop

Finally, you should monitor Tweets for potential problems and program feedback. You may not be able to chase them down later.
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