Integrating social media into your communication plan
It’s always been the event professional’s job to ensure an event goes off without a hitch. But sometimes, despite your best intentions, something goes wrong.
The difference between now and the past, however, is that when an executive spouts the wrong fact or an attendee shouts a negative opinion or the women’s bathroom overflows, everyone—both on site and online—now not just has an opinion to share, but also a means to share it far beyond the ballroom.
Word can spread like wildfire in a matter of seconds through social media, whether the issue is something as small as the room temperature, or as big as an evacuation of the venue.
It’s no longer a question of whether you should include social media in your communication plan; it must be an essential piece of your strategy.
Here are five tips to get started, focusing on the types of issues that regularly occur at events.
1. Identify all possible outcomes of the interactions with your programme, venue, catering, hotel partner, speakers, Wi-Fi, storage, mobile app, etc. Draft sample responses to all outcomes in 140 characters or less and include helpful links to direct people.
2. Have a feedback centre. There are many apps and/or websites that can collect attendee feedback. Let attendees know they are heard and remember to respond in a calm and collected tone.
Encourage them to explain further so that you can take their feedback into consideration. Giving attendees an outlet to do so can be as simple as creating a Google Form with a live link to the response on social media.
3. Identify other social media sources and helpful links.
What are the local fire and police department Twitter handles? Local news sources? This is for the situations where the “issue” may start to creep into “crisis.”
Be prepared for the scale of the problem to escalate by having contacts for reliable news and local sources. In case an emergency, or even a simple question, should arise, be sure to have helpful links shortened and easily accessible. (Like evacuation plans or venue maps).
4. Identify roles within team. Roles should clearly be identified and communicated within the team prior to the event.
This includes not only your social media team, but your planning and production team as well. If the problem tips the scale to become a “crisis” rather than an “issue”—say, the host company makes a major programming mistake—you may need a statement or brief video announcement from a more senior-level manager or the CEO.
5. Consistently monitor your hashtag. The sooner you can identify and communicate with a slanderer, the quicker you can distribute a solution.
Sometimes people just want to be acknowledged; sometimes it will take a more direct action to resolve the situation. Either way, you don’t want anyone to spread negativity, so it’s a good idea to nip it in the bud sooner rather than later.
Remember to monitor variations of your hashtag too; there will always be attendees who get it wrong. Be proactive: Communicate directly with them, then direct them back to your conference-wide hashtag conversation.
The most important aspect to including social media in a communication plan is to have a team of experts in place to manage and execute it.
This team should be integrated into the production team, planning team, program team, etc., as they are the ears and voice of the entire organisation. This also goes for your post-conference debrief.
Your social media team should collect feedback and responses (with links to the original posts) for organic attendee feedback. It may be worth considering hiring extra hands on deck to help your team accomplish communication objectives and to have fresh eyes on social at all times.
Be sure the communication plan includes contact information to anyone that may have an answer to any of the foreseen questions or emergencies. You’d be surprised at some of the questions that arise.
Whether you train your own social media team or hire one, these social media tips are meant to equip event professionals with tools that will enable every event to go above and beyond expectations.
Source : www.meetingsnet.com
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