The following checklist was compiled by Jordan Schwartz, president of Pathable, which provides custom social networking solutions for conferences and events.
Choose Your Tools • Define your goals. Do you want the use of social media to help you increase attendance at your event? Help create some buzz? Increase the level of attendee satisfaction? Different goals call for the use of different tools.
• Are your attendees likely to know each other through business connections? If that's the case, be sure to create a LinkedIn event page.
• Are your attendees likely to know each other socially? If so, create a Facebook event page.
• Are your attendees likely to be comfortable with trying out new technologies? Establish a Twitter presence.
• Will your attendees want to keep in touch with each other after your event is over? Add a private social network.
• Add a blog to keep information about your event flowing to your audience.
• Use Google Alerts to be notified when anyone mentions your event anywhere on the web.
Promoting Your Event • Select a Twitter hashtag and display it prominently on your website.
• Encourage attendees' retweeting by offering Twitter-only event discounts.
• Find LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your audience. Join them and provide a link to your LinkedIn event page.
• Invite your Facebook friends and relevant groups to join your Facebook event page.
• Identify the thought leaders in your industry and engage them directly.
• Help to build buzz and excitement about your event by linking to the communities you've built from your website.
• Use bit.ly and Google Analytics to find out which promotions are working and which aren't.
Communicating with the Audience • Set aside some time to tend to the relationships you'll create. A dedicated "community manager" should feel personal responsibility for engendering a healthy dialogue.
• Communicate as a human being, not as a corporation. Nobody wants to talk to a corporation.
• Set a good example: Ignite your community by asking questions of your attendees through the online communities you've created.
• Be sure to respond to your audience when they speak on Twitter, your blog, etc.
During the Event • Provide Wi-Fi and convenient power outlets so your attendees can blog and tweet about your event.
• Project Wiffiti on stage or on a hallway wall to provide a live visualization of the activity that's happening online.
• Encourage bloggers and tweeters to "live stream" your event through special access passes, preferred seating, dedicated Internet, etc.
• Provide a mobile-friendly version of your website with quick access to the conference schedule, maps and other critical information.
After the Event • Publish photos of the event to Flickr using your event's hashtag to label them.
• Encourage attendees to continue the dialogue they started at the conference in the online communities you created by asking questions and seeding conversations.
• Use online surveys to collect feedback.
• Start engaging your community about your next event.