Everybody wants it. Everybody talks about it. Yet so few actually get it. Of course I am talking about 'the Buzz'. Participants of your next event which go wild on Social Media.
Well, you probably have found out by now that this online back-channel will only become relevant if a significant number of delegates decides to actively start sharing and participating. In order for them to do so, you need to overcome the following 4 barriers:
Barrier 1: Reluctant attitude
'Personal curiosity' and 'understanding a clear benefit for adopting Social Media as a communication-tool' are key to change particpants' attitude towards using it. The following 4 actions will stimulate that:
- Framing your event as the ultimate occasion and safe playground to experiment with these tools.
- Framing Social Media as a tool to improve delegate experience (instead of being an objective in itself) and as a way to add value to the community; wisdom of the crowd, collective intelligence and learning together.
- Leading by example by the highest leaders in the community (e.g. the chairman); preferably during the plenary opening address.
- Celebrating 'intended behaviour' in other media: mentioning active Social Media users on stage, clipping interesting updates and publishing them in the daily newspaper (if applicable) and displaying Social Media-fountains on screens throughout the venue.
Barrier 2: Lack of skill
The change of attitude will create a ‘need’ to learn ‘how-to’ use Social Media. This is where a 'Social Media Genius Bar' could play a key role in getting delegates started and up to speed one-on-one. If the demand really picks-up, it could be interesting to launch short introduction courses for groups, either at the Genius Bar or in a meeting room.
Barrier 3: Lack of knowledge
Once delegates understand the need, and have the skill to share, they need to know where and how. There it is key that in as many communication as possible the hashtag (= 'virtual venue') and the intended purpose (= 'Sharing = Caring: share your learnings so others can benefit') are added. Both online and offline; think handbook, badges, banners, lanyards, slide-templates, e-mails and verbally. Possibly you could shoot a 1-minute video with your president or someone else who is highly regarded in the community explaining this and share that before the conference.
Barrier 4: Lack of connectivity
Once you have organized all of the above, a logistical issue arises: people who want and know how to share, get very grumpy if they cannot due to lack of connectivity. For national delegates this is less of a problem due to local mobile data bundles; for international guests it will be. A side effect of people sharing and checking Social Media a lot, is that it drains their batteries. Ideally you supply power sockets in seminar rooms and catering areas (and especially at the Social Media Genius Bar).
Personally, what I love about these 4 barriers is the fact that they are in fact 'meeting planning' issues. Not tech-y at all! Which means it should be easy for you to solve. Right?
Love to hear your experiences!
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.