I pitched an article to the World of Direct Selling newsletter in September offering a few reasons why I believe social media is such a crucial element to any live event. It also highlighted many of the initiatives we at USANA have undertaken at our annual international convention.

DSA Be ConnectedIt generated a nice response and led to an email from Amy Robinson, chief marketing officer at the Direct Selling Association, the large industry group to which companies such as USANA belong.

She thought the topic — Why Social Media at Live Events is a Must — would be beneficial for attendees at the organization’s annual communications conference and asked if I would mind speaking at the event.

I began bolstering the article and tweaked it into a 15-minute presentation, which I gave as part of a three-person panel at last week’s 2013 DSA Be Connected communications conference in Washington, D.C.

It was an honor to present with co-panelists Josh Marx, director of marketing for Team National, and Mark Stastny, chief marketing officer at Scentsy. Each is very skilled in social media and I learned a lot from each presentation.

Here’s a quick overview of my main points. Perhaps they’ll resonate with you as you incorporate social media into your own live events.

5 Reasons Social Media is a Must at Live Events

  1. Generation Buzz: Build enthusiasm and excitement for the event — for attendees and non-attendees alike.
  2. This is the Place: You are the official news source. Cover the event as a news organization would cover a breaking news story and provide your audience with sharable information.
  3. Community Connections: Take advantage of a place where you can connect with and nurture your brand advocates.
  4. Don’t Miss Out: Find ways to encourage future attendance and action.
  5. Wait, There’s More!: Keep the momentum going all year by leveraging the excitement and enthusiasm — and content — from the event.

A Social Toolbox for Success

You need to arm your attendees with the tools necessary for success. Here’s what we’ve found valuable at our events:

  1. Free WiFi
  2. Executive and Leader Support
  3. An Event App
  4. Incentives to Participate
  5. A Corporate Team Providing Sharable Content

My previous public speaking efforts include several presentations at USANA events, as well as a brief presentation about Twitter at the 2012 PR News Social Media Measurement Conference. It’s something I’m getting more comfortable doing and I enjoy sharing my social media experiences with others.

While still an unpolished presenter, I believe I’m continuing to improve each time I step on stage. That said, here are three things I wish I’d done differently during my presentation in D.C.:

  1. Step Off the Stage: We were in a room far too large for the audience turnout, which led to several empty tables up front. I wish I’d stepped off the stage and walked closer to the audience to provide better engagement.
  2. Go With the Flow: There were opportunities for me to veer from my prepared presentation, due to content provided by previous conference speakers, but I remained glued to my script. Next time I’ll be more confident to react to the situation.
  3. Relax: This is something I’ll probably never be able to completely do. Whenever I speak publicly I often let nerves get in the way of maintaining a conversational tone.

In all, it was an incredible experience to interact and learn from the industry’s top communications professionals. Even more, it was great to share with other companies what’s worked for us socially at live events.

Special thanks to Amy Robinson for inviting me to speak at the event, as well as to Mark Pleshar, USANA’s talented director of presentations, who worked with Dave Romo to create a spectacular Power Point deck. Finally, thanks to Doug Giddings, USANA’s senior manager of communications, for taking photos and video during my presentation.