For the past several years, most of us have all fallen victim to the “if you build it, they will come” mentality when thinking about social media for events. We thought, if we have the necessary channels set up, we would automatically attract scores of new attendees with very little effort, and no monetary investment. But, as we quickly learned, it just doesn’t work like that. As any worthwhile venture has proven, you have to have a plan.
A social media plan for show management doesn’t have to be some elaborate marketing dissertation. In fact, it can be very simple. Gather your players (marketing, communications, public relations, advocacy, exhibit sales, registration, logistics) and put together a schedule. Delegate posting assignments and put them in your project management system (or outlook calendar reminders). Start more general (think “save the date”) and get more specific as speakers are confirmed or special events are announced. You can use this timeline as a guide, but consider your audience and their tendencies when developing your own plan.
Be careful not to abuse social media as a way to get money from your attendees and exhibitors. If you only post “sponsorship opportunities available” or “exhibit space is selling out” people will not get excited over your postings. In fact, they might stop following you.
This plan is for pre-show planning based on an annual event cycle starting 12 months out. Part 2 of this series will cover getting followers, ideas on what to post during the conference as well as post conference material.