Meetings are no longer one-off, terrestrial events that happen over the course of a few days and then are done until the next year.
Thanks to social media tools like Facebook and Twitter, you can (cliché alert!) extend the conversation around an event, both online and off, from January through December.
Take a look at the activity and discussions on the Facebook Pages for BlogWorld and New Media Expo or SoMeT.
Take a look at the Twitter hashtag chatter for SOBCon or TBEX or all of the 140 Characters Conferences – and many of the SoMeT attendees met each other first through #tourismchat.
These are no longer just your standard panels/keynotes/rubber chicken lunch/trade show blah-blah-blah where “the really good stuff happens in the convention center hallways.”
These are vibrant, helpful, year-round communities in which the online interaction solidifies and grows the offline, and vice versa. This level of enthusiasm translates into more interest in the event; in the case of SOBCon, they were already registering for the 2011 version the minute the 2010 one finished, and now there’s a #SOBCon chat (you don’t have to have attended to conference to hang out there, either.)
The bar for meetings is raised. People don’t want a good thing to end, and it doesn’t have to, when you use social networking tools to sustain and grow the connections.
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Buzzword Alert fo’ sure.
I think #SoMeT was a powerful example of what’s possible using social networks with your conference. #SoMeT was just the peak of a series of events that happened up to the event and after, from the interactive process to choose location for the event to connecting with like minded folks before getting to the conference.
Bar raised indeed.
Golly, Andy, don’t you SLEEP? 🙂
As always, thanks so much for stopping by….
Sigh. Haven’t you figured out I am a coffee-crazed vampire? 🙂
Couldn’t agree more, Sheila. Many of my new best friends, confidants, and colleagues I’ve first “met” online. Those relationships have grown over time. Now, when I meet one of those people IRL, it’s like running into an old friend from college. I value these relationships, and hope they continue to grow and develop over time. And you’d better believe I’ll be looking for every offline opportunity I can find where I can see more of them in person in 2011! Great post, Sheila.
Thanks very much for your thoughts, Sarah. You’ve been around the tourism biz a long time; you’d know!
Thank you for including us in your list Sheila 8). Obviously we have to walk the walk when it comes to all things social. I think it’s important to understand events like ours also has an advantage over traditional events in that nearly all of our attendees, exhibitors and sponsors are already engaged online with each other and with us. That makes being social much easier than for an event that is not quite as far along on this social revolution.
They will all get there someday as the members of their community adopt and embrace these new amazing tools.
Thanks Rick – love what BlogWorld is doing as you lead the way to better conferences. Others should send reps to the ones I listed, including yours, to learn some valuable lessons.
I completely agree that it will become increasingly important for conference organisers to harness social media to extend the life of their event. That’s why we’ve developed http://www.moreconference.com to help organisers set up online communities (with the emphasis on ease-of-use) for each event. I’d be interested in whether readers think it could be useful as part of a social media strategy. Best, Francis