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Social Media Etiquette Tips for Conferences

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Two of ROI Online’s favorite marketing conferences are coming up next week: HubSpot’s Inbound and the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Marketing World!

Whether you are attending either one of these events, or another conference in the future, you know there are several unspoken rules of etiquette to follow, especially when it comes to social media.

Days before attending a conference, you make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to snuff, you tweak your website and pick out your most professional outfits.

But if there’s anything we’ve learned about conferences (besides wear comfortable shoes of course), it’s that you want to make yourself known on social media. Social media is a simple, yet highly effective way to network, brand your company as well as yourself.

Yet, at the same time, you want to listen to speakers and learn. Making sure you choose just the right Instagram filter and coming up with a creative hashtag on Twitter distracts you from what the speaker is saying.

More importantly, you want to be respectful to the speakers, panelists and instructors, and give them your undivided attention. That means putting the cell phone down.

So where do you draw the line between being proactive and being impolite? There’s certainly a time and place for Tweets and Insta selfies at conferences. Here’s how to make sure you stay on top of your professional game, while still staying professional.

3 Tips for Using Social Media at Conferences 

1. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

If you are going to tweet during a speech, make sure you do so on a positive note. Share what you learned from the session or take a quick picture of the presentation and pair it with an inspirational quote from the talk.

Be sure to tag the presenter in your post, too, and use the conference’s hashtag. He or she may RT your tweet or even personally respond to you, which is an excellent way to start a rapport with an industry leader.

2. Engage with others.

Speaking of starting a rapport, being active on social media during a conference puts you in prime position to converse with your peers as well as industry leaders. Connect with others by using the event’s hashtag. Before the conference even kicks off, find out who the speakers and panelists are and follow all of them on Twitter so you are ahead of the game.

Don’t forget to interact with others off social media, too. Connect with attendees online, but make it a point to actually meet them in person. I admit, this part can be a bit awkward, but I promise you that everyone is doing it. Most people at conferences are there for two reasons: to learn and to network. Make the most of it. You may even gain some friends, too. 

3. Know when to give it a rest.

It’s understandable that you want to live-tweet the entire Amy Schumer keynote speech at Inbound, but try not to tweet every single one-liner. Otherwise, you could miss out on the actual experience. I hate that I didn’t catch some of Kevin Spacey’s political quips last year at Content Marketing World because I was too busy trying to get the perfect shot from the 48th row…

Also, if a speaker asks you to refrain from using your cell phone during their presentation, that doesn’t mean whip your iPad out or tweet from your computer. It means step away from all electronic devices! This is especially true for small, intimate talks and breakout sessions.

A good rule of thumb: We know you’re teeming with excitement, energy and clever commentary, but do your best to limit tweets to no more than five per session and take just one photo.

One Final Piece of Advice

Be professional, charming and courteous, but don’t forget to have a good time! Yes, conferences are technically for work, but you can still have fun at them. Attend the lunch and learns, stop by the vendor booths and tag a photo of you with that company. You’ll most likely get a free trial and cool swag.  

And no matter how worn out you are, go to the evening networking sessions. They are usually in the form of a happy hour or pub crawl, so if not to network, do it for the free food and drinks! Shaking hands and snapping a selfie with some of the industry’s biggest influencers is much easier after a cocktail or two. Promise.

ROI Online will be at Inbound this year! Come find us and say hi! We'd love to chat about digital marketing and even grab a cold one. (We'll be the ones in the ROI shirts.) 

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