The landscape of today’s medical meetings environment has changed. Technology has made it possible to conduct successful meetings while simultaneously increasing interaction with other practitioners, students and interested parties around the globe.
Using social media can be advantageous in a variety of ways. You can use it for live platforms which can be turned into new membership, to deter the cost of public relations while still accomplishing your goals, and enhance the overall marketing strategy of the organization. There should be two social media teams in place: your promotion team and your event team. The promotion team should be engaged and plugged in from the moment the meeting date is announced. A website, Facebook page and various social network groups based on topic should also be created and monitored. The team should be interactive and available to immediately respond to any questions or conversations.
The use of platforms to engage your audience is key. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and now Google+ are commonly used throughout meetings. Presenters and attendees alike are consistently posting to their networks through these platforms during lectures, demonstrations and more. YouTube and Vine videos are also becoming huge platforms for sharing. These social media platforms will allow your attendees to exponentially increase and give your meeting worldwide exposure. These platforms can be used before, during and after the meeting to share:
- Times for presentations
- Special deals
- Pictures of attendees
- Special announcements
- Visitors guide and things to do
- Hotels, places to eat
- Transportation alternatives
- Social events that will take place during the event
It doesn’t stop there. Social media can also promote your meeting to encourage others to participate on additional days. Keeping your live audience and your viral audience engaged is one of the most important elements of having a successful meeting.
Being able to track meeting engagement is another important element of managing your social media. Having an event social media team in place is key. This is the hub of your operation. Your team should be two-fold. There should be individuals tracking your analytics using programs like HootSuite, Klout and Simply Metrics to give you stats on how your social media platforms are engaging your audience before, during and after your event, and the other portion of your team should be the "hands-on" individuals who are connecting, commenting and responding to your social media in real time to address and resolve concerns or issues that may arise.
Analytics can give you feedback on how your attendees feel about certain lectures or presentations (participant sentiment), level of engagement, how your brand is being perceived and virality (reach) while your event is going on.
Using these techniques can also enhance your social media experience:
- On-site media feeds in each lecture or presentation that will allow live questions that can be answered during the event.
- Creating a “Social Media Hangout” where all the social media feeds can be seen on large screens based on the platform being used.
Social media can be helpful or harmful. Your attendees must be aware of the legal implications attached to anything they post online, especially if confidential. Make sure during registration every attendee signs a social media policy statement and a media release. Although situations may still occur, putting protocols in place to protect your event can go a very long way. Making sure all regulations are in compliance will make a huge impact on future meetings and the way in which they are conducted. Have your legal team create a social media compliance strategy.
The wrap-up is the culmination of your efforts. Incentives for completing surveys via social media should be in place. After every presentation, tweeting or posting perks on social media platforms will keep attendees engaged and have them wanting to participate. Knowing that there is an incentive attached to their feedback works well. Your incentive could be very simple, such as a photo with the presenter, to 15% off a meal for the day.
Incorporating social media is a necessity in meeting planning. To see how effective the use of social media event management can be, attend MPI's session "Tech Advancements that Bring Face-to-Face Meetings and Events to the Next Level" at Pharma Forum 2014, March 23-26, 2014 in Orlando, Florida.
(Image courtesy of Web Treats via Flickr)