If you're planning an event, social media can play a massive role in getting your messages out further than the space you are in. It opens huge opportunities to engage with an audience who may not be able to attend the actual event, but who could easily follow along virtually.

People who aren't even at the meeting can connect and share thoughts... great friendships and networks have been born out of like-minded Tweeters!

Here are some top tips for using Twitter at corporate events:

Decide on a hashtag

What hashtag will you be using at the event? Think about whether you need to create a new one, or whether you can use an existing one. Hashtags should be short, snappy and indicate what they are all about.

Check it out

So, you’ve had a team meeting, and decided on a great hashtag. At this point, take a step back, and actually check it out on Twitter. Just put it in the search bar at the top right of the screen, and existing tweets on the hashtag will show up. Check the results of your hashtag search, and make sure that it’s fairly unique, and displaying tweets that are related to your topic or event.

From experience, I know that a search for #breathlessness (for a breathlessness symposium event) will pull up VERY different - and mostly inappropriate results - than #breathless (try it yourself!)

Promote it

A hashtag is neither use nor ornament if no-one knows about it. People aren’t mind readers.

Once you’ve decided on your hashtag, promote it. You could put it on the event invitation, on the agenda, on the bottom of slides, with the wifi code, in the delegate packs and on the delegate name badges. Splash it all over.  People can’t follow the conversation if they don’t know what they are looking for. 

Ensure that the chair mentions the hashtag in their opening, and gives people ‘permission’ to tweet during the event.

If your speakers have a @twittername, display that on the bottom of all their slides – this will allow people in the audience to engage with them, should they wish.

Ensure that the chair mentions the hashtag in their opening, and gives people ‘permission’ to tweet during the event.

Twitter screens on the day

A really great way to help people follow the conversations - whether they use Twitter themselves, or not - is to display tweets on a large screen. There are many free packages out there – of which here are two:

Tweetwally: http://www.tweetwally.com/

Visible tweets: http://visibletweets.com/

To display the tweets, you’ll need a screen, a dedicated laptop streamed to that screen, and of course, internet connection. So check beforehand if you’ll have wifi, and make sure you organise the right kit.

And if you’re going to all the trouble of displaying the tweets from the event, put the screen somewhere people can see it: it’s no good down a dark corridor where nobody goes.

If you are tweeting yourself, you'll also need a separate device to the one hooked up to the screen. 

The article below gives some great tips on how to follow lots of people at once and how to create PDF archives of all tweets that feature a particular hashtag.

Hopefully this post has been useful, but remember - social media is just that... social. So engage with your audience, be helpful, friendly, and above all, have fun with it!