Last week, a couple hundred marketers converged at The Omni Parker House in Boston, Massachusetts for the inaugural Social Media Tools Summit. Hotels and social media events go together like bread and butter – hotels can benefit from bringing people in to explore their offerings, and events benefit from having a large, eclectic venue to host their get-togethers.
Anchored by Brian Mahoney and MSB’s own Neal Schaffer, the event focused exclusively on tools and had a unique, all-panel format featuring a panel of tool experts along with a complimentary panel of digital marketers to balance out conversations surrounding various topics.
Since this was a social-media based event, social media was obviously an integral component of the proceedings.
Here are five ways the Social Tools Summit integrated social media into the event itself – before, during, and after – and how hotels and others hosting events at hotels can benefit from similar ideas.
1. Pick a Hashtag and Encourage Its Use Prior to the Event
Coming up with an event hashtag is pretty common, but optimizing its use prior to the event itself is an excellent way to both encourage its use during as well as promote the event itself.
In addition to using the hashtag while talking about the event, Neal also had speakers send over recent articles they’d written on their blogs that would be relevant to the Social Tools audience.
Leading up to the event, these articles were tweeted with the #SocialTools15 hashtag. This assisted in building up the Social Tools Summit Twitter account while also providing useful information and supporting the speakers, panelists, and sponsors.
Additionally, the day of, the hashtag was noted numerous times and attendees were highly-encouraged to live tweet. And that they did! The #SocialTools15 hashtag was trending in Boston within the first hour of the event, and nationally by the end of the day.
— Neal Schaffer (@NealSchaffer) May 12, 2015
2. Build and Nurture Your Community Before The Event
A few weeks before the event, a Social Tools Summit group and subgroup were created on LinkedIn, and attendees were invited to join if they were interested. This allowed the professionals attending to come together ahead of time and learn more about each other, common interests, as well as the conference itself.
Many introduced themselves to each other and the speakers were able to shed some light on what they’d be covering. People were able to ask questions and receive feedback.
Shortly after the event concluded, people were posting their recaps along with lists of many of the tools highlighted. Creating an online homebase for your event attendees is a great way to build camaraderie among attendees and excitement about the event.
Being on LinkedIn, a professional social network, ensured everyone’s participation was entirely professional, collaborative, and relevant. These LinkedIn connections were also incorporated into the event itself as during the event, people were encouraged to interact with others’ posts to be tallied for social awards that were given out at the summit’s conclusion.
3. Create Distinct On-Site Photo Opportunities
On the day of the Summit itself, guests were greeted by Sue B Zimmerman, one of the leaders in Instagram marketing. Susan brought a variety of fun signs with which people were encouraged to snap photos.
The signs boasted a variety of hashtagged phrases like #InstaAwesome, #InstaExpert, and, of course, #SocialTools15.
4. On-Site Social Displays
One of the sponsors, Tint, supplied their platform during the event, which aided in creating an immersive experience. The blending of offline and online can sometimes be difficult, especially in hospitality where sometimes your online social media audiences is a different one from your regular in-house patrons, and Tint helped bring those two sides together.
Tint creates a social brand hub during events and showcases social media posts live. Displayed on screens at both ends of the panels, a feed included social media posts across a variety of channels.
This allowed attendees to have a clear idea of the scope of content that was being shared on social, and be able to monitor photos and speaker quotes while not having to necessarily be looking down at their phone or computer.
5. Use Social Media for Customer Service
The other side of using social media during an event is that you have be actively listening. People use social to voice their opinions, both good and bad, and being able to address issues mentioned is superb in providing exceptional customer service.
After the first panel of the day, someone tweeted that it would have been beneficial to have included the speakers’ Twitter handles on their nametags in addition to their names. During events such as this, people tend to tweet a lot of quotes from the speakers, so it makes sense for attendees to learn the speakers’ handles to be able to provide attribution in the tweets.
Neal asked me to man the Twitter account during the event, so upon seeing (and agreeing with) this note, I let Neal know and we let the speakers know to add their handles. This was great feedback for the future, too – now future Social Tools Summits will feature speaker Twitter handles.
Many commented earlier in the day as well that it was cold, so we were able to turn down the AC. Later in the day, after lunch, someone tweeted that the curtain should be re-opened. These may be small issues, but letting attendees know they’re being heard, and pleasing them, shows commitment.
What other ways have you seen hotel events incorporate social media?