by Thomas Baldwin
Senior Manager, Conferences - Promotion and Communications - IEEE Computer Society
Yes, there's lots of buzz about social media and all the advantages it can bring to conferences...but most conferences haven't yet invested in trying to make it work because the payoff isn't obvious.
Granted...the payout isn't always obvious, so let's look at one easy way to make social media work for your conference.
Everyone over the age of five seems to have a Facebook page and Twitter account. This includes every author for your conference. And, this does include all those contributing authors who can't make it to the conference to be the presenter. Why not ask each and every one of these authors to add an entry to your conference's blog. They can write about any one of numerous topics that are related to their accepted "work" but not about the work itself.
Authors can write about why they chose to pursue the topic of their work, or about the experience of collaborating with their fellow authors. They can write about where they hope this work will lead their research, or what they hope to accomplish by presenting at the conference and being published.
These are only a few examples of what authors might want to write about that doesn't directly speak to the work itself. Oh, they can write about their work, too.
Once they add their own entry to the conference's blog, ask them to tell their social networks about their entry, including a link back to the blog.
This is basic viral marketing at its most effective. It gives your authors added exposure while spreading the buzz about your conference. This will include your authors' family, friends, colleagues and associates. These are the people interested in what they are doing with their lives. Colleagues and associates to your authors are also very likely to be interested in the same technical conferences and might decide to attend.
Feedback from conferences on this approach to viral marketing has been very positive. It expands the buzz about a conference and gives access to a market that might not otherwise be reached.
Come on...give it a go! It's simple and free.
Just make sure the blog links to the conference web site if the blog tool isn't built into the actual conference web site.