Which Social Media must I invest in? Is Google+ the new Facebook? Do I need to set up my 'own' social platform? I get one of these three questions almost every week - and many variations on the same theme. My answer: it makes no difference!
The answer to that question logically follows on from a whole different question, which most people do not (dare to) ask: Why do you want to bring these people together? And is the reason about you - or about them? Are you mainly concerned with your own marketing, sales and ego? Or are you actually adding value to their professional or personal lives? Your target audience spends their time online only for their own benefit (after all, it's not called Social ME-dia for nothing!). They want to laugh, learn and love. Maintain relationships, to be seen, and received compliments. Neurological research shows that a 'Like' releases the same substances in our brain as a stimulating (and addictive) drug.
What would you do with this before your next conference or event?
Very simple: make sure you become the source of experiences that make people laugh, learn and their opportunity to shine. And isn’t that exactly what our industry is all about? You 'only'need to expand these same features to an online environment. And if you do that well, the technological infrastructure doesn’t matter one iota!
Here are a few examples:
1. YouTube vs. TED.com
YouTube is the largest platform for online video. The search results are unparalleled. But you can also choose a conference like TED to post the videos of the event in its own environment. Interested parties have to go to another site to view them (cumbersome!) and install a separate app (super cumbersome!). However, the content is so special that the target audience are prepared to make that 'extra' effort.
2. LinkedIn vs. proprietary platforms
For many meetings 'networking' is an important objective. LinkedIn is the largest online business network in the western world and has become the de facto standard. Basically, your participants do not need to become a member of yet another platform in order to network. When they meet someone interesting they add them on LinkedIn! So forget all those hopeless attempts to get people to enter a new profile yet again in order to be 'allowed' to network at your gathering.
3. Your camera vs. that of your participants
Participating in a conference, exhibition or event is by definition a special experience. Often fun, often instructive, and as a participant you are guaranteed to be pampered. Typically, it’s an experience to share with friends and colleagues. And since almost all participants in 2014 have a camera with Internet access (see smartphone) in their pocket, they will do so eagerly. And they can themselves choose whether they do it through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Vine, Whatsapp, WeChat, Tumblr or Pinterest. They choose the network where most of their friends hang out, who may find it interesting or exciting.
Share your experiences!
What are you doing at your next event to make your participants more active in Social Media? How are you going to make them laugh, learn, and to feel special? If you post your plans below, it may double the chances that you will actually do it!
Freelance Project Manager, Entrepreneur and networker with a passion for events and Social Media. Gerrit is partner of How Can I Be Social (HCIBS), co-founder of Triqle Event Intelligence, board member of the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) in the Netherlands and professional speaker.