The Social Media Black Hole is Killing Your Event

“Oh my god, it’s full of stars”

The Social Media Universe is Filled with Wonder and is More Important to Meetings and Events than Any Other Marketing Platform.

There, I said it. Social Media is so important that if you do not use it, you will fail.

Social media allows you to interact with attendees, find new prospects, engage your sponsors and promote your speakers. Social media can bring you new revenue streams, allow you to distribute content and can make you the rock star of whatever industry you happen to be in. Social media can open up horizons that you never knew existed.

You are the captain of your social media ship and it is up to you to keep it out of danger.

Black Holes Swallow Stars.

Social media can also destroy your event. You can fall into the social media black hole which is a place from which few ever return and from where you will never be seen again.

The most frequent question I get from new clients is “You have to get us on that new site!”. This question is asked with such enthusiasm that it breaks your heart to stop them because this is where they get caught in the gravitational pull of the black hole and once they are in that gravitational pull, they are in for a quick ride to the bottom;¬† Conference Starship One is about to crash and burn unless someone gets control and guides it away from the abyss.

What is the Social Media Black Hole

Defining the scope of the black hole is different for every event and involves the number of resources at your disposal. In a nutshell, the social media black hole is relative to the vastness of your social universe.

You fall into the black hole when your event is trying to be on every platform and you do not have the bandwidth or resources to support the effort.

When you look deep into the social media black hole, you see Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, MySpace, Orkut, Tribe and a thousand others twinkling like little stars. You also see a thousand little comets shooting by; FYI, those are other events falling in, never to be seen again.

The black hole is a huge and vast thing that stares back and if you look to long, you will go insane. You will never move forward because the gravity and immenseness will always pull you back in.

There is always one more network.

You will know that you are falling into the black hole because your attendees will suffer frustration, anger and eventually apathy and by the time you discover that you are truly trapped you are sitting alone in the dark and your legion of fans have gone off in search of someone that can actually serve their needs. Their butts are going to another seat somewhere else.

Avoiding the Social Media Black Hole is Very Easy

Go where your attendees are:

Stick with the social sites that are frequented by your attendees. Take a poll, put your ear to the tracks or use smoke signals but find out where your attendees are hanging out. You do not need to be anywhere else……..Period. I do not care if Becky down the street is raving about that new site “SocialDoDo”. You should avoid it until your attendees ask why you are not there. A common way to get sucked in is going off on some¬† wild goose chase that was started by a 12 year old kid.

If 90% of your audience is on Facebook and 1% are using Orkut, do the math and avoid getting trapped.

Skim the Edge of the Black Hole Constantly

Skimming the edge of the black hole requires skill and awesome piloting skills but I am sure that you can manage because you are one smart cookie. Hop in your little starship and fly super close because there is nothing wrong with securing your events handle on every social site, including “SocialDoDo”.

What a good captain remembers is just because you have a handle, it does not mean that you have to use it. Log in from time to time to keep the account active and to prevent it from going dormant. When a new social site comes along, grab your events handle and then wait and see how it develops before you jump in with both feet.

Pinterest is a prime example. This is certainly not the social network for every event or conference but so many people are getting sucked in. This proves that even in social media space, you can hear them scream.

I have only recommended Pinterest to ONE client. The reason? They are in a very image oriented field and it MAKES sense for them to be there. In fact, the web traffic to their conference site is up since we got them “pinning” away. Time will tell if it leads to more registrations but for now we are watching the traffic grow.

Don’t Forget, Social is social and there are no friends in the black hole, only loneliness

If you are on too many social networks, you are distracted and it shows. You are not engaging, you are not entertaining and you are certainly not educating. You are also not getting more butts in the seats of your event and that is the true purpose of social media.

Create the best experience possible for as many attendees as possible and you will never need to worry because they will keep coming back. Remember this, most people have accounts on multiple social networks so if you are catering to the Facebook and Twitter crowd and ignoring Pinterest, you are probably reaching the Pinterest crowd anyway. Don’t lose any sleep over not being the first conference on that new social network.

So what if someone else beats you to “SocialDoDo”, let them get sucked into the black hole while you keep moving forward.

Do not forget to be nimble

You will have to adjust from time to time; Do not become Captain Ahab. I have one word for someone chasing a single white whale………. MySpace.

We must all understand that things change and “SocialDoDo” might become the next big thing and if it does, you will need to adapt and change strategies. That is just life, the trick is learning when to join and when to wait. This knowledge will only come with experience and research.

If you are unsure, ask. Ask me, ask your attendees or ask yourself.

O Captain! my Captain! This journey is never done but it is not rocket science, it is not hard, and if you guide your ship safely you will be rewarded with attendees that are more loyal and engaged than you could ever have imagined and that will lead to more people attending your event and that is why we are all here, isn’t it?

Drive safely captain, it is a big universe out there!

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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