Social media for a work-focused conference/ organization: aye/ nay, how?
June 7, 2019 11:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm a social media noob, in that I don't use Twitter or Instagram, and I only use Facebook sporadically, but I've stood up to be the "tech coordinator" for a multi-state land use and transportation planning (and adjacent fields) conference (I have a range of duties, not just social media). Our organization's web presence is currently limited, and I was wondering if there'd be value in our boosting social media presence in the lead-up to the conference in early September 2019.

Additional notes or considerations: I'm working with my state chapter of the American Planning Association, which is a pretty reliable (and small) in-group in terms of annual state conference attendance. This year, we're coordinating with Western Planner, which means our pool of members and interested individuals has significantly expanded.

I'm not in charge of our APA chapter website, which is currently hosted on Wix (we'll hopefully move somewhere else, because that platform isn't working for us). Western Planner have a better website, so we're leaning on them to host content at the moment.

On social media: as a non-user of Twitter and Instagram, I'm not sure if there's a benefit from boosting our signal via these and other platforms, versus relying on our existing mailing lists. We have high aspirations for our attendance numbers, but I think our usual membership of the state chapter + Western Planner will likely cover our attendance goals.

I still feel like we should be doing more in the 'net. In part this comes from seeing a social media savvy coordinator with a different annual conference (GIS-T) who would make live updates from panels. I'm hoping we can get some student members involved to handle social media posts, both because I think they could do it better, and to distribute the coverage throughout the multi-day conference.

But do other folks find value in this kind of promotion? Does your professional organization have a solid social media presence, and do you find it helpful, engaging or informative? Or do you wish it did? Or do you find such efforts artificial, unproductive, or spaces of conflict that aren't well-managed?
posted by filthy light thief to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Where is your audience? As a rule of thumb, go to them. But take them things they'll find interesting. (IMO).

I guess what I'm saying is what metrics do you have?
posted by Leon at 11:50 AM on June 7

I generally don't suggest that people with no digital marketing experience and those who have limited social media experience be the person responsible for driving a new initiative.

You want to advertise. That is what social media for business is, whether you are paying to boost your content or not. Like any other advertising push, you need to have clear concepts (who is the audience, where can we reach them, what content do we think they will respond to), clear goals (how much time and money are we willing to spend, how will we position our brand) and clear metrics (what result do we want, and how do we determine if the campaign is successful).

Simply posting content to a minimally active social media account is not going to net you much in terms of ROI. However if you have interns or volunteers that you trust to do a good job (they are, after all, representing your company publicly) and want to give them something to do, posting to social media during the conference could give you some ideas for the future.

I do not think social media for business tends toward poorly moderated spaces of conflict, as the content of your feed and the comments on your posts depends on you. You curate your feed, moderate your own comments, and block anyone who is disruptive. I have had to do that exactly once. YMMV but in my experience, especially with niche markets, you aren't going to run into that often.

Social media for business is not the same as social media for personal use. It can be hugely beneficial, a great way to promote your brand and connect with clients, and a space to showcase your company's knowledge and innovation. However, it's not for every company, it really depends on your market.
posted by ananci at 12:32 PM on June 7 [4 favorites]

Quick feedback: this isn't a company that's trying to sell anything, so we're not looking for new clients.

I think we could be looking to start conversations about presentation topics. Public engagement is a major goal in planning, and one that is generally hard to do well (it's often hard to get people excited about public projects or plans, unless they're contentious).

Otherwise, good points so far. Thanks!
posted by filthy light thief at 1:35 PM on June 7

As a minimum, decide on and publicize a hashtag so people live tweeting from your conference can all be found?
posted by batter_my_heart at 3:37 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]

Sorry for a belated response, but if it isn't too late, here are a few thoughts. Check out @NewPartnersConf for an example of a twitter account being used to promote a planning conference. An easy strategy would be to write tweets promoting someone's presentation in the hopes that they retweet it. For example: "Don't miss the great presentation by @JaneThePlanner about [Exciting Topic Description] at the upcoming #KansasAPAConf, July 7-9 at the Topeka State House. [include link to conference registration page]" If possible, include a photo of Jane as well. You don't need to tweet that much, but it does help to be consistent. For instance, you could aim to post two solid tweets each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. You can schedule these in advance using a tool like Hootsuite (which I believe is still free).

Twitter can also add a level of depth for some participants if you encourage people to tweet during the event. One way that this happens by including a small note (e.g., a sticker) in their conference packet providing a specific hashtag for people to use. Some people will not tweet, but some people are likely to be tweeting regardless (e.g., sharing quotable quotes). By providing a hashtag and encouraging it, you'll help the people on twitter find one another, which might enhance the experience for them (e.g., seeing what quotes others thought were worth highlighting). You may also end up with more tweets, which might even attract attendance for next year.
posted by slidell at 2:34 AM on June 13

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