Love it or hate it, social media and other online platforms have fundamentally changed how meetings and conferences are being planned and managed. These tools give meeting attendees the ability to connect directly to conference presenters, exhibitors, businesses, and other attendees and the ability to provide instant feedback. Social media isn't just a great promotional channel for public events; it can also make routine meetings more memorable and help planners create a better experience each time. In this post, we'll share some ways on how meeting planners and companies who host their events at The Salem Convention Center are using social media and other online tools to keep their audiences in the loop and engage with them before, during and after the event. #1 Publish a Blog Post Does your company have a blog? Start blogging as soon as you can! A series of blog posts is an excellent way to kickstart audience engagement by generating pre-event 'buzz.' Whether your company is hosting the event or you're an exhibitor or speaker, use your blog to keep meeting attendees up-to-date with new developments and other important event information. Give your audience a preview of topics, your exhibit booth, speakers, itineraries, social functions, early bird discounts, contests, and more. Once you post your blog, share a link to it on all of your social networks. BONUS: If it's appropriate to do so, ask employees, friends, family, co-workers, influencers, meeting attendees, and anyone else who can help spread the word to share your post! #2 Create a Facebook Event If your company has a Facebook page, creating a Facebook event is a fast and effective way to not only promote your meeting, but to help your attendees with necessary event logistics, answering their questions and getting audience feedback. Once your event is published, promote it to the ideal audience using Facebook's location, demographics, and interest targeting features. Not only will more people learn about your event, but your event page is also a great place to communicate the latest developments and interact directly with your audience. #3 Hashtag that! These days, if it doesn't have a hashtag, it might as well not exist. Hashtags are like keywords. Multiple studies have shown that using hashtags on Twitter and Instagram posts will increase their engagement and visibility. If you're the event planner, create a unique hashtag specifically for that event that's short, unique, and easy-to-remember as soon as you can. If creating a hashtag does not come naturally to you, there are several free online tools available for you to use, like Hashtagify.me and Photerloo's Instagram Hashtag and Keyword Generator. Just make sure your hashtag is relevant to the event, the location, and your audience and search to make sure it's not already in use. More tips: -Be consistent! If you post anything relevant to the event, include that unique hashtag. Unless it's necessary, never change the hashtag once it's publicly launched or you will confuse people. -Make your hashtag visible on ALL online and offline communication channels, including your event website, social media channels, event emails, posters, handouts, digital and non-digital ads, mailers, presentations, and more. If you are publishing something relating to your event, it needs to have that hashtag! -Display your hashtag prominently on signage, promotional items, brochures, etc. during the event, so your guests know to use it. Ask all presenters to mention the hashtag and encourage people to use it. -Give meeting attendees incentive to use your hashtag and share your event on social media. This could mean setting up a photo booth branded with your hashtag or creating a photo competition where the best photo using your hashtag wins a prize. For more event hashtag tips, see Brand24's blog post. Engage Social Media Influencers in your industry A social media influencer is someone who has established a following and high credibility in their field. Every industry has at least one social media influencer whether it's tech, food, healthcare, politics, pop culture, self-help, fashion, education, you name it! When you engage an influencer to endorse or participate in your event, it gives it more appeal and legitimacy with their followers. A recent study has suggested that 92% of consumers trust a social media influencer over an ad or big-name celebrity endorsement. Email Attendees Email newsletters may sound old-school, but they work, especially for meetings and conventions. Send a confirmation email to your attendees once they register with information to help with travel arrangements and supply them with detailed itineraries and speaker information, so that they can get the most out of their experience. Once the event is over, you should send thank you emails to express your appreciation for their participating and provide a survey asking for feedback on what you can do to improve events in the future. If you are an exhibitor, take some time immediately following the event (the same day if possible) to email the attendees who stopped by your booth and requested information. Try to remember details about your conversation and make them personal. By continuing the conversation after an event, you increase credibility and trust by demonstrating that you cared enough to reach out personally to them, and you want to help solve their challenges. Whether you are new to the event planning process or a seasoned pro, the primary goal is always the same: to create a seamless and rewarding experience for your organization and attendees from beginning-to-end. We've seen a range of meetings and events come through the Salem Convention Center through the years and we're often impressed with the various methods companies can leverage digital communications and social media to improve the overall experience of their meeting attendees. If you are searching for the ideal venue to host your event, our meeting planners will help you access the tools you need to help enhance your presentations and communication. To learn more, visit salemconventioncenter.org/conventions, call 1-866-614-1900 or email us at email@example.com.