On Tuesday, April 13th, social media guru Charlene Li—author of Groundswell and Open Leadership—joined us for a webinar titled “Creating a Social Media Strategy for Your Event.” Last week we featured the first segment of her talk: How to build a winning pre-event gameplan with social media. Today we’re spotlighting the second: key actions to take during the event itself. Here were Charlene’s main themes and tips:

Make attendees aware of the backchannel. Define your Twitter hashtag or hashtags before an event starts, and mention these in all your materials. Publicize them throughout the event, including from the stage.

Aggregate and display the backchannel. Especially at large events with overlapping sessions, attendees may not be able to attend everything. Social media can help connect them to the sessions (and participants) they miss. Tricks like broadcasting event Twitter feeds on lobby monitors can focus the buzz.

Determine the role and relationship of the backchannel to speakers at your event. Running a backchannel during a live event is powerful, but also requires you to answer some questions up front—distractions and chaos can overwhelm. Will the speakers be able to monitor backchannel? When is the speaker expected to be able to see and respond to the backchannel, and how will it be integrated into the presentation? Is the organizer prepared to monitor and address “bad behavior”? Different formats also bring their own considerations:

  • Webinar best practices: Designate a non-presenter to track questions, and remind attendees to use Twitter hashtags to keep the conversation in one easily monitored place.
  • Panel best practices: A moderator should remind attendees about Twitter hashtags and monitor the backchannel—but remember that this can take practice to do successfully.
  • Keynote best practices: Realize that resenters with prepared speeches can’t really react to the backchannel. Conference organizers must be prepared, and also prep the speaker. That speaker can and should engage that backchannel up until the moment of taking the stage.

A better way to include and expose the backchannel is during Q&A. If you show the backchannel during Q&A, the speaker can select questions. An emcee can also ask pre-selected questions to get things started. He or she can monitor questions from the backchannel during the speech and ask them on the audience’s behalf—a great way to guide the discussion, represent common questions, and prevent floor-hogging.

Thanks again to Charlene Li, and keep an eye out for the final installment from her talk: social media strategy after the event.

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