Updated: Apr 2
Social media plays a large part in event planning these days, with industry professionals constantly trying to figure out the best way to make the most out of tools such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Google+. With so many people plugged into social media throughout the day, they can be a fantastic way to reach an audience as long as you are not pushing your message too aggressively. But as well as using social media marketing to sign people up to go along to your event, you'll be able to use it once the exhibition itself has got started.
One way event planners have been increasingly using social media in the last couple of years is through an in-event Twitter feed, which is commonly referred to as a Twitter wall. But what are the pros and cons of having one of these in-event Twitter feeds at your event?
All good event planners know that only half of their job is done once they have got delegates through the door and into their venue. You still need to get your message across in a timely and effective manner and social media will be one of your key tools to achieve this goal. Keeping attendees engaged in the material you are presenting is likely to be one of the major challenges you face as an event planner, which is where an in-event Twitter wall can help.
Most of us have seen these in action in various locations already - they sometimes even get used in shops these days - and the technology looks like it is here to stay. They work by pulling in tweets that use a certain hashtag - so in this case it would be the designated hashtag for your event, which you will set in advance - to then be displayed on large screens dotted around your venue.
Speaking of your hashtag, take a lot of care when you decide which one you're going to use for your event. Try to pick an evergreen one if possible, one that you will be able to use every year, as this means you won't have to go through the various changes to marketing materials to update them with the new tag. You also want to keep it short and unique, but make sure it's still instantly recognisable to your event - it can be tricky to get right but very rewarding if you do.
By displaying tweets from your delegates you can help to fuel the conversation and inspire new areas to debate in the event, uncovering topics and bringing up ideas that may otherwise have remained buried and out of reach without the in-event Twitter feed. You could also have the feed displayed on your website to let people who could not attend keep up with the latest.
There's loads of other things you can do with Twitter - such as running live polls, analysing who took part in which discussions and referring back to external content such as videos - but the Twitter wall might just be the best of the lot.
However, if you do choose to set up an in-event Twitter wall for your event, there's a lot you need to keep in mind if it is going to run smoothly without causing any problems.
First of all, you need to rigorously check the hashtag you've selected to make sure it is absolutely unique for your event and Twitter users won't unwittingly be using it on completely unrelated messages. Make sure you do a thorough check of your tag before setting it in stone.
Even if you've got a rock solid hashtag, you need to put measures in place to make sure it is not liable to get abused by Twitter tricksters who have little more to do with their time than be trolls. Some brands are more likely to be targeted by these individuals than others - generally speaking, the more high-profile ones are more in danger - but sometimes it's totally random which companies people can choose to go after.
One way you can get around this is by moderating tweets before they appear on the in-event Twitter feed. This can be a lot of work and you might need a dedicated person to do this job, but it's a level of protection you'll be glad you have if something does go wrong. You'll want to be checking for any legally dubious material - such as libellous claims against an individual or business - before you allow messages to appear on your Twitter wall.
But as long as you put protective measures in place, there's no reason why an in-event Twitter feed cannot be a fantastic addition to an exhibition, boosting levels of engagement and giving delegates an even better experience.