Skittles, Social Media and Conferences.... Time to Put the Attendee to Work for You!!

By now, you've probably seen the new social media experiment that is Skittles.com
Although the site developed by Agency.com is still a little rough around the edges, this experiment is widely viewed as a social media success story because it allows the user to interact with the product, thus producing a way for the end-user to promote (or critique) the product.  At this point, the message has been pretty positive.  
But, enough of Skittles!! I'm a Hot Tamale man myself....
This idea of social media, using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, along with traditional web content is not only a great idea for marketing products, but I think one of the biggest benefits could be experienced by using this type of resource for big conferences.
Imagine that you're attending a conference (say last month's LegalTech conference.)  We've seen how social media has inspired people to blog and tweet about what they are listening to at the conference, why not take a tool like this and make it really work for the conference??
Here's a quick breakdown on how I think this type of resource would benefit a conference:
  • Traditional Web Presence: Conferences usually have information posted about the conference posted on a traditional website.  Sticking with the LegalTech, the traditional web site gives the organizer the ability to promote, inform, and distribute information about the conference.  Let's face it, most conferences end the "official" flow of information at this point.  But, taking the Skittles model, let's expand.
  • Twitter Feed of the "#" Hash-Tag: They're going to do it anyway...  so, why not take advantage?  Whenever you have more than 5 people going to the same thing, one of them is going to create a hash-tag about it, so that they can get more people to join in.  Heck, if Congress is going to Twitter while the President is speaking, you can bet your techie attendees will be Tweeting away as well.  So, why not put that information out there along with your traditional web page and make it easy for folks to see what others are talking about?
  • YouTube - "Show 'Em What You've Told 'Em": Expand your reach through the simple use of video.  This give the organizer a chance to expand the information being distributed, and if done right, can allow your attendees to add content.  
  • Flickr - "We're at 'X' Conference Having a Ball....  Wish You Were Here!": As people take pictures at the event, enable them to share them in a central location so that others can see what's going on.  Make people feel like they are there, even if they're not! (Maybe next year, they'll attend!!)
  • Facebook - Allow Your Attendees To Be Your Friends and Promoters: The Facebook angle allows you to build upon the past conferences.  Think of it as the ability to take your attendee list and keep them up-to-date throughout the year.  Allow them to tell you what was good (and bad) about the conference, and suggest what to do for the next one.  Allow others to see the comments, and contribute as well.  
I'm sure additional social media tools could also be integrated into a conference to allow the connection of people to people, and people to content.  So, if you have more suggestions, please comment below!
Using social media as a tool for a conference isn't without its risks.  Even the Skittles site has a potential down side which Stan Schroeder points out in this blog post.   But, I believe that the upside has such potential, that the rewards tremendously outweigh the risks.  

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Julie said...

Brilliant Greg! I have sent a link to this post to the ARMA International President.

I especially like the twitterfeed idea. I'd like to see one set up on the expo floor projected onto a big screen so folks walking around can easily see it, benefit from it, and insipire them to hit the wi-fi area and participate in it!


Tom Mighell said...

We got a little ahead of ourselves at ABA TECHSHOW last year by offering the TECHSHOW Buzz (www.techshow.com/buzz). The Buzz provided a blog feed, Twitter feed and tags, Flickr feed, and Delicious feed so people could post interesting websites discussed during the show. I say we got ahead of ourselves because Twitter had not yet found critical mass, so we only had a few people participating. I'm looking forward to that changing at this year's TECHSHOW -- we'll be featuring a session on using social media tools at the beginning of the conference, and we hope this encourages more folks to Tweet and blog about the show. The Buzz page will be updated soon, with instructions on how to take advantage of these tools at TECHSHOW.

Greg Lambert said...


You are always (and I mean ALWAYS) head of the curve!!

I love Julie's idea of having a big screen showing real-time displays of what everyone is posting, tweeting, You-Tubing and (flickr'ing?)

I've double-dog dared ILTA '09 to do this, but so far they haven't taken me up on the dare.

I really think there is some great potential in this type of interaction w/conventions. I just hope someone takes the dare, and puts it front and center on a giant big-screen!!


Tom Mighell said...

Yep, we tried to do the real-time Twitter display, last year, but alas the technology hadn't caught up yet. We just had to run over to the computer every few minutes and hit refresh :-)


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