Digital communications for events

Lynnette Leman, Digital Communications Manager, NHS Improving Quality

Lynnette Leman, Digital Communications Manager, NHS Improving Quality

Planning an event? You may find this guide useful to get the most out of your digital communications…

Twitter

Decide on a hashtag

What hashtag will you be using at the event? Think about whether you need to create a new one, or whether you can use an existing one. Hashtags should be short, snappy and indicate what they are all about.

Check it out

So, you’ve had a team brainstorm, and are convinced you have a killer hashtag. At this point you should take a step back, and actually check it out on Twitter. Just put it in the search bar at the top right of the screen, and existing tweets on the hashtag will show up.

For example, a search for #breathlessness (for a breathlessness symposium event) will pull up very different results than #breathless (try it yourself!)

Check the results of your hashtag search, and make sure that it’s fairly unique, and displaying tweets that are related to your topic or event.

Promote it

A hashtag is neither use nor ornament if no-one knows about it. People aren’t mind readers.

Once you’ve decided on your hashtag, promote it. Get it on the event invitation, on the agenda, on the bottom of every slide being used, on the tables, in the delegate packs and on the delegate name badges. Splash it all over. This also applies to your twitter @NHSIQ name, and the twitter names of each speaker if they have one. People can’t follow the conversation if they don’t know what they are looking for.

If your speakers have a @twittername, display that on the bottom of all their slides – this will allow people in the audience to reach them through Twitter, should they wish to.

Ensure that the chair flags the hashtag in their opening, and gives people ‘permission’ to tweet during the event.

Twitter screens on the day

If you want to display tweets on a screen, there are many free packages out there – of which here are two:

Tweetwally: http://www.tweetwally.com/

Visible tweets: http://visibletweets.com/

To display the tweets, you’ll need a screen, and a dedicated laptop streamed to that screen. And internet connection. So check beforehand if you’ll have wifi, and make sure you organise the right kit.

And if you’re going to all the trouble of displaying the tweets from the event, put the screen somewhere people can see it: it’s no good down a dark corridor where nobody goes.

You will also need a separate laptop to the one hooked up to the screen so you can keep an eye on Twitter activity. Monitor the tweets, retweet where appropriate, direct people to useful links and websites, and promptly answer any questions.

Filming and photography

Do you want to capture photographs and footage of the day? Images and films can enhance the write up of the event, can be added to websites and tweeted, helping your messages and content be seen.

Be clear about why you’re filming, and what value it will bring, as it can be expensive. Instead of filming the entire thing, think about capturing some talking heads discussing some of the key issues.

Think about if you need to pre-record any video footage, perhaps from key stakeholders who can’t be there on the day? If so, plan this a good four weeks in advance. If you intend to show any film footage, ensure the venue has appropriate facilities.

Professional, high-res photos are great for including in any write-up of the event, and for sharing on websites etc. But photos from phones also have their place. According to research, tweets with pictures get retweeted 35% more times than those without. So think about encouraging your audience to do some of the work for you by sending pictures through their twitter accounts.

Always inform your audience that filming or photography is taking place, and advise them to tell the photographer should they not wish to be captured on film.

Website

Do you need an event page on the website? Or are you creating one afterwards? Or perhaps it’s better to include a paragraph on an existing page, particularly if it links in with a specific work programme.

Links on the web page can include more information about work programmes, the agenda and programme of the day.

Slideshare

Are the presentation slides to be available before the event? If so, upload them to Slideshare – include the hashtag and a brief description, to make them more searchable. Tweet the links to time in with the speakers on the day. Otherwise, upload them immediately after the event, and ensure all delegates are sent the link. You will need to get permission from your speakers beforehand that they are happy for you to share their slides.

YouTube

Videos and films can be loaded up to YouTube, and either tweeted out on the day of the event, with the hashtag, and/or embedded onto the website.

Blogs

Will you have any blog posts to publish? These could be published before the event, to help promote it, or afterwards, to signpost people to download resources from the event. Think about who the authors might be, the blog topics and when to publish them to have the most impact. Once your posts are published, tweet them out using the event hashtag.

After the event

After the event,  you may want to create a Storify . Storify is a great place to collect together tweets, films, presentations and online resources, to keep a record of the event in one place. Creating a Storify will generate a link, which can be tweeted and displayed on the website.

Ensure the event page on the website is updated. Embed the slides from Slideshare, and any films used from YouTube. Link to the event hashtag, any blog posts and the storify

Does the event warrant a Pinterest board? Pinterest is simply a virtual scrapbook, or a collection of links with images attached –  but can be an ideal place to ‘pin’ links to online publications, presentations, films and web pages. Each board created will again, generate a link that can be shared via your website and Twitter.

This social media pro-forma may also help in planning your digital activity for an event.

 

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