Twitter Chats Deliver Numerous Benefits for Events

January 31, 2016

Simply defined, a Twitter chat is a set period of time (usually an hour) where a group of people discuss a topic through tweets that include an established chat hashtag. 

It can be a useful tool in raising the event’s brand awareness, building interest in the event, providing additional value to event participants, extending the event’s content beyond the actual event and creating a strong and loyal community.

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) holds a #CMWorld Twitter chat every week with more than 100 active participants.

“Our Twitter chats are a great way for our community to get together once a week,” said Cathy McPhillips, vice president of marketing at CMI. “I’m certain it’s effective, because the few weeks a year when we don’t hold chats, our community still comes looking for us on Tuesdays.  When many of us do see each other in person at CMWorld or other events, we seek each other out. “

CMI’s main goal is to provide an outlet for its community to learn from each other. Once a chat is complete, it uses the dialogue to determine new blog post ideas, create other pieces of content and plan speakers and sessions for Content Marketing World.

“We try to balance out topics so it’s not all heavy strategy weeks in a row, or all tools and technology. We try to ensure that our community members won’t go more than a week with a topic that wouldn’t apply to them,” noted McPhillips.

Another show organizer, Electronic Transactions Association (ETA) and its digital marketing partner, Frost Miller, recently implemented this strategy to engage its TRANSACT audience. The annual event connects the payments technology world.  A series of four chats leading up the April conference will build interest on topics at the forefront of attendees’ minds.

“For us, the Twitter chats have two main benefits,” said Del Baker Robertson, director, membership and marketing at ETA. “They connect people around interesting topics before the show and expand our reach to their followers every time they tweet with our hashtag.”

CMI and ETA identified the following best practices for Twitter chats:

·         Build a plan and stick to it, because consistency helps attendees build trust and a relationship with the chat organizer. Small tweaks can work such as adjusting the number of questions.

·         Find a time of day that works best for your audience. Consider whether your audience is international, or if they are at their desks all day, or evenings might work better.  Ensure that no other competitive chats are happening at that same time.  

“We set our chat for early afternoon eastern time so that our participants on the west coast can participate in the late morning,” explained Baker Robertson.

·         Invite special guest experts to add to the discussion and give participants the opportunity to ask questions and get their opinions.

·         Use other channels - Facebook, LinkedIn and email - to promote the chat.  And promote the chat early and often.

·         Be prepared. The week prior to each chat, CMI’s community manager emails its special guest with the questions prepared for each chat and a script of the chat (as well as pre- and post-tweets). This helps the guest prepare and even pre-write tweets.

“This may seem like it’s too scripted, but it doesn’t come off that way. It gives the guest time to engage with the participants without having to think of their own responses during that hour,” explained McPhillips.

·         Ask for feedback advice from participants.

“We’ve asked our chat participants if ten questions were too many; if they wanted to meet in person at our event; if they read our transcripts each week, or if they’d find something else more useful. While we ‘think’ we know them based on our weekly interactions, unless we ask, we won’t improve,” McPhillips said.

Like many things in social media, Twitter chats build on momentum, so commit to a certain amount of chats when testing this tactic with a specific target audience.

Use experiences from each chat to tweak the next until the right mix of time, topic and participants is met. Whether the goal is brand awareness or building a loyal community or anything in between, Twitter chats offer a lot of possibility for event planners to engage their audiences.

If you’d like to join a Twitter chat focused on trade show industry issues, check out #Expochat, held every Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET. 

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.