In your company, are you responsible for booking venues, facilities, restaurants and organizing transportation for meetings and events?
Generating Meeting Attendance by Using Social Media
Available and free new technologies are changing the way meeting planners create awareness of upcoming events. Thanks to Web 2.0 technology, social media has emerged as a great way people to connect and interact with one another.

The term Web 2.0 describes Internet applications that allow users to generate the majority of a website’s content, such as Wikipedia and Flickr. Web 2.0 developments come in many forms, including what is popularly known as social networking media, websites that allow users to build an online community of personal contacts.

Social networking media is a great way to tap into a large potential audience base, especially in a time where snail mail invitations are obsolete. Even standard e-vites are experiencing a decline in use, as these simple profiles do little to convey detailed information about the event and guest list.

Meeting planners shouldn’t hesitate to utilize the following websites, among others, to generate healthy meeting attendance rates, especially when such a large amount of today’s target audience already uses them on a regular basis. With certain key functions on each site, planners can generate a large amount of interest in an event among familiar colleagues and new contacts.

One of the biggest problems that have plagued event planners since the beginning of corporate meetings has been pinpointing the professionals who will most benefit from all of the labor put into a carefully conceived function. Throwing out the widest net possible has always been the rule of thumb, but such a strategy has often created hit-or-miss results.

LinkedIn is a networking tool strictly used by business professionals. Each user gathers contacts, called “connections,” within the industries of interest. Users can then use these direct connections to get in touch with what the site terms “second degree connections,” or contacts of other contacts. Third-degree connections are contacts made through second- degree connections.

Being able to connect to other business professionals through LinkedIn allows users to search for contacts that would most benefit from attending a planned event. Using this resource allows for planners to target a specific niche of people, ensuring that the eventual audience will contribute to the event’s ROI.

Facebook originally was used exclusively by college students, but has now become the most popular social networking site on the Web. In the business world, it has proved an invaluable tool for keeping track of important contacts. Rather than keeping track of business cards, professionals can now put faces to the names of the people they meet at corporate functions by requesting them as friends on Facebook.

Facebook gives users the opportunity to keep tabs on all their friends through status updates, photo sharing and comments. Of course, to maintain a high level of professionalism, experts suggest that it may be best to keep two separate accounts, one for personal use and the other purely for business-related contacts.

Planners can use the “event” function to build profiles for upcoming engagements that give detailed information on the location, time and any requirements to attend. Users can then invite however many of their contacts to the event as they see fit. As each contact responds, their RSVP status becomes visible, allowing planners to get an accurate estimate of the number of online friends that plan to attend.

Twitter allows users to update their profile pages with brief, 140-word descriptions of what an individual is doing at any given moment. These posts, called “tweets,” can be viewed by any of the user’s “followers,” or subscribers. With a change of setting, a user’s tweets can be accessed by anyone in the world.

What can event planners accomplish by tweeting? For one, planners can give their followers by-the-minute updates on how the event they’re invited to is being developed. This allows for immediate response and feedback to better gauge the needs of the target audience. If a large segment of the invited guests tweet back in disapproval, then that tells the planner that perhaps a particular aspect of the affair needs to be revised or thrown out altogether. Tweeting also enables planners to disseminate accurate information immediately and instantly, so followers are always in the know.

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