Recently I have found myself (and a couple friends) smack dab in the middle of planning events. I am not an event coordinator by any means so I can tell you from first hand experience, regardless of size, it is more work than it might seem.
Tech on Tap is a new venture to the Fox Valley technical, social, and beer sampling scene. The idea, which came from the hard work of the Tech on Tap Brewmasters, is relatively simple in that we pick a technology that sounds interesting, find some sponsors working with that technology, reserve a space and take care of the food, and… I think you get the overall idea that the planning is really key and can quickly be overwhelming. (For more Tech on Tap details check out the website)
The point of this post is not to plug my organization (too much) but to remind you that social media can help you in various ways during the planning stages and during the event.
Planning an event
Social media is a great way to invite attendees to your event, using sites like meetup.com, twitter.com, and facebook.com, you can reach a larger audience than you might find in the contacts portion of your email. Because twitter can push alerts to a phone, you can also use it to quickly get in touch with others on the day of the event, just incase you need something you might have forgotten.
In some cases, sites like twitter can even start the ball rolling on an entire idea or organization, but I already promised not to talk about that too much.
During the event
I am one of those people who remembers when it was considered rude to be using your phone or laptop or <insert device here> during a presentation. With the explosion of social media, the speaker and other attendees can share the feedback available during the presentation, which can help the speaker. It is also a way to take questions from followers who might not have been able to make it to the venue, but remain interested.
Hashtags on twitter help alot with things like this. If you are planning to use a general hashtag for all of your tweets, make sure you use it alot leading up to the event as well. This will bring search results for the tag (and your content) to the top of search engines. If you are planning a new hashtag for each event, getting it into circulation far enough ahead of the event for it to take off is a good idea. Creating a search covering your hashtag(s) is also a good idea, because you may not be able to follow the online action the day of the event.
After the final buzzer
Once your event has wrapped, consider the information posted on social media sites about the content, speakers, and other aspects of your day. Review the search columns for hashtags you created to see what discussion might have been taking place around your events and ideas. If there is a ton of followup to keep you busy, that is great, if not, consider ways to improve for next time. Share your ideas and thoughts regularly with those helping you with the event as well, this will help keep things on track and allow you to get better for future events.