As social media began it’s meteoric rise to prominence, it was dismissed as a mere passing trend, a fad that will eventually pass into obscurity. In modern times, social media is almost an intrinsic part of daily life, not just used for entertainment but to facilitate discussion, spread news, and plan gatherings.
Leveraging social media both before and after events has proven to facilitate growth and community engagement, aiding in the success of events. Using social media while your event is ongoing is a trickier endeavour but with enormous benefits. If you wish to learn how to use social media to network at events, you’ve come to the right place.
Before An Event
There are a multitude of things you can do to build hype of your stream prior to an event taking place. One of the best ways to grow your stream is to collaborate with others on your stream. Be sure to check out our learning modules that help you collaborate with gamers.
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Live Tweeting/Live Posting
Keep your followers and those who are also at the event, clued in to what you’re doing, what you’re seeing, and how everything is going by live posting. Visiting an amazing panel that has you on the edge of your seat? Write a series of short posts about what makes it so amazing. See something funny as you are walking around a convention or tournament? Let people know! Live tweeting in particular creates interest, buzz, and allows people who are also at those events or interested in those things, to interact.
Through this, you can engage with individuals who enjoy similar things or reside in a similar field, facilitate fun conversation, and perhaps create interest around what you create. In a similar vein, through live tweeting you can potentially find and meet like-minded and interesting people at events.
Reply To Those Who Reply To You
People are more likely to truly engage and perhaps enjoy some of your content if you take some time out of your day and respond to them. Say for example, you have live tweeted at an event or posted about what you’re doing. If someone takes the time to reply to you, they are interested and it’s best not to ignore them. Especially when you are just starting or are in the middle of building your network, you don’t want to ignore anyone who is genuinely trying to interact.
Networking online is very similar to networking in person, and if you happen to ignore or push people aside, you aren’t creating a good first or second impression. The very definition of networking is; the process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. This is where social media thrives, for obvious reasons. Exhibitors, patrons, developers, competitors, all interacting within a giant echo chamber. Reply to people, foster connections, and treat people online similar to how you’d treat them in person.
Hashtags are fun ways of connecting or engaging with large groups of people. Check on Twitter on almost any day and there is probably some form of hashtag making the rounds and getting people talking. Why not do the same? Keep the hashtag short, punchy, and relevant, so it can fit easily into Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts. These tags provide a centralised arena of posts and content created by individuals at the events.
A lot of the time, organisations and events will create their own hashtags which you can use to, again, interact with those at the events and conventions. For example, the recent BlizzConline, Pax Australia and Supanova events, both prominent gaming conventions, have posts being created left, right, and centre, marked with the #blizzcon #Supanova and #PAXAus tags.
Creating polls can be a powerful tool to drive up social engagement, with minimal effort on the respondent’s part. And let’s face it, if you have the right question, people will engage because people love having opinions on things.
While polls and questions can be based on anything you wish, a key to creating successful ones is to ensure it is relevant to either the event or the occurrences around you. For example, a poll based around Game Of Thrones could do incredibly well, as we approach the highly-anticipated finale.
If you are wandering around an event and have a list of potential things you wanted to visit, see, or play, it’s a simple matter to create a ‘What do I NEED to do’ poll on Twitter. You may already have a preference but you are inviting individuals to join the conversation. They could talk about what they loved, what they didn’t enjoy, little tidbits you might not have known, or just offer wholesome interaction.
With polls, you don’t even have to undertake a large effort to find people to talk to, the poll could draw them to you. Similarly and importantly, your audience can interact simply and quickly. You can even create simple polls in your Instagram stories, to increase engagement with your current and new followers. Going to check out a gaming final? Ask who is also going. See an amazing cosplay wandering around that has you inspired? Poll your followers to ask if you should cosplay a particular character.
When it comes to attempting to build up a professional network anywhere around the world, LinkedIn reigns supreme. It is, after all, what LinkedIn is designed for. Blending social interaction with face-to-face interaction, you can find and talk to industry professionals or up-and-coming professionals at events then follow up with them on LinkedIn.
At conventions, exhibitions, and competitions, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to interesting individuals to engage with. From cosplay personalities, game developers, exhibitors, and merchandise sellers, you can interact with potentially hundreds of people over a weekend.
When using LinkedIn, you may have to do a little bit of legwork beforehand, ensuring your profile is fully enriched, maybe with some examples of your personal work. Edited game clips, articles you’ve written, or videos you’ve created can work wonders and show-off your particular talents.
Then, over the course of the event, you can interact with interesting individuals, find those you wish to have a prolonged professional relationship with, and add each other on LinkedIn. This merges physical interaction with social media and can be an incredibly effective networking tool.
Getting Those Selfies
Similar to LinkedIn, bridging the gap between social and reality, you can use the power of selfies to drive engagement during events. An alternative form of social media posting, you can take fun selfies to show off the fun things you are doing or seeing. As is the case with many of the above tips, you can drive engagement with others at the event, who happen to love similar things.
To take this a step further, you can interact with other people at the events and take selfies with them, ready for posting on visual-based sites such as Instagram, Pinterest and all your other social channels. Obviously, only take photos and selfies when you have the consent of the other person.
While the event is ongoing or even after it has finished, you could post the photos or selfies and try to build up a friendly rapport not only with the subject of the photo but also their followers or audience. This does not mean, attempt to poach followers or fans but you can use the photos as a way to engage with a wider base.
Conventions, exhibitions, esports competitions, and other events don’t just present an assortment of amazing experiences to experience. Gaming events offer almost innumerable networking opportunities and through social media, you can potentially grow your audience and fanbase. Just focus on building meaningful relationships.