Social Media for Conference Organizers: a Handbook

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For conference organizers, the benefits of a smart use of social media channels stretches far beyond just the promotion of their event. The challenge of tight budgets for (especially) academic events is well-known, and the process of building proper online platforms and hiring additional administrative staff is often difficult to afford. By allowing some strategic thought and investing a little time, however, social media can become an extremely cost- and time-effective way to build online presence, ease the registration process, communicate with participants, gather feedback, attract speakers and sponsors and collect and store digital materials for future use.

Here we would like to share several tips on the best use of social media by conference organizers. We believe that their use can contribute to the overall success of your event.

Before the conference:

 - Set up a Twitter account and use it to tell future attendees about you news, including reminders about relevant deadlines

 - Use your twitter account to answer the questions of delegates – it will save you time dealing with emails later!

 - Set up a Google+ profile to be found on google and let participants follow your updates

 - Create a Facebook group for delegates to interact with each other, prior to the event

 - Similarly to Twitter, use your Facebook group for “customer” support – it will make it possible for delegates to see answers to the similar questions that they have

 - Use Quora to answer the most commonly asked questions and make it visible for all participants

 - Make a simple blog page (for example on Blogspot or Tumblr) to share important announcements. Make sure that interested professionals can subscribe and receive your updates in their inbox.

 - Use LinkedIn groups to share information about your conference

During the conference:

 - Use a #hashtag for your conference on Twitter and encourage all participants to do so. It will make it easier for delegates to interact with each other or find tweets about your conference, and for organizers to answer questions and gather feedback

 - Use Twitter for live streaming of the conference events

 - Use Flickr, Pinterest or Instragram to share photos with participants and invite everyone to do the same. This will provide you with a source of valuable material for the promotion of future events.

 - Record key speeches and presentations using video and audio recordings when possible

After the conference:

 - Gather and analyse feedback from participants on the social media channels that you used, including searching #hashtags on Twitter

 - Setup a YouTube profile and share videos of sessions and speakers

 - Share audio recordings as podcasts on your blog page

 - Initiate post-conference discussions on your Facebook and LinkedIn groups

 - Engage the audience that was built during the conference on your social media channels in discussions and information sharing. They will be the main ambassadors for your future events.

 - Use the information collected smartly, to inform your marketing decisions for your next conference!