Social Media at Events – What is in it for Attendees?

A few weeks ago I was asked an interesting question on LinkedIn.

The benefits to the conference or event from social media are clear. The benefits to exhibitors and sponsors are also clear.  But what is the benefit for the attendees?  Why should they use social media other than to get advertisements from the show and exhibitors?

This is a great question, and one that is far too often overlooked.  Many people START their social media by asking what’s in it for me?  They should begin social media by asking what’s in it for my audience?

The key to success in social media is aligning your marketing objectives with providing actual value for your audience. Sometimes discounts, news and coupons can add value, but this isn’t enough to build a strong and lasting connection.

When crafting your social media strategy, ask yourself what’s in it for your attendees.  Why should they connect with you.

Here are some ways that you can use social media to provide value to attendees:

  • Deals and Discounts – This is obvious, but providing the best prices or notifications about price increases online is always great content.  Studies show that over 80% of Facebook Fans look for Discounts and Promotions from the brands they connect with. But this is just a start – it doesn’t lead to a lasting connection.
  • Updates at the Conference – During a conference there are always things that change. Maybe a session is running over, or the lines for lunch have just died down. Perhaps the only Starbucks in the hotel closes at 2:00pm.  Whatever it is, using social media to provide updates can add tremendous value and keep attendees in the know.
  • Live Tweet Sessions – Many conferences have multiple concurrent sessions, and it is hard to decide which one to attend.  Give your attendees the best information by Tweeting the key points at different sessions. This gives attendees insights into the sessions they may have missed, or they may switch into a different session that is really spectacular.
  • Night Life – Attending the conference during the day is great, but attendees get  a lot out of after hours activities as well.  It helps them make new connections and increases the networking time associated with the conference.  Tweeting informally about where people from the conference are getting together for drinks or dinner makes the show more inclusive.
  • Additional Tips – During the show you’ll notice trends in the questions that you get asked at the info booth – what is the Wifi password, where is there wifi, what time does the exhibit hall open, is there a coat check, etc.  Use social media to provide tips to enhance the experience for attendees.
  • Fun and Games – Increasingly, conferences are using social media to run games or contests at a show.  This increases interaction and provides something fun for attendees to do.  You can ask real time questions or send them on scavenger hunts.
  • News and Updates – Before and after the show you can use social media to provide news tips and updates to attendees.  Let them know about new speakers or format changes.  Keeping them in the loop is helpful.
  • Connect them with Their Friends (or Long Lost Friends) – When you create an event on Facebook or Linkedin it shows you who else is attending.  This can add value for attendees so they can see if people they know are attending, or if people they want to meet will be there.  Knowing who else is going in advance can enhance the attendee experience.
These are only a few of the ways to think about using your social media efforts.

How else can social media add value for attendees?

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