Let’s revisit your memory of that successful event, adding in a social media component. Perhaps a LinkedIn post from a colleague alerted you that the event was open for registration. After registering, you followed the host organization on social media platforms and participated in a pre-meeting poll. You noted the event’s hashtag and started following people who use it. A few weeks before the meeting, you asked the organizers a question on their Facebook page, and they answered it. (Extra credit! Ten other people had the same question, and you saved the organizers from answering it 10 times by e-mail.)

When you arrived at the meeting, you recognized a few of the faces from their online profiles, making a note to catch up with them. After the opening reception, you saw some tweets about a first-timer meet-up at the main bar, so you joined in. You posted a few pictures on your Instagram account, using the event hashtag, and your old friend from college recognized you—she’s there, too! The organizers sent an announcement on several social media platforms to say that dinner had to be moved because of weather, saving you a long walk in uncomfortable shoes to the wrong venue.

Back home, you connected with your new friends on LinkedIn. You looked through event photos, which, thanks to Facebook’s tagging feature, allowed you to put names with faces. Now, when you have a new business opportunity, or a question about a venue, you won’t hesitate to reach out to this network—a network that is already established, with whom you’ve shared an in-person experience. And when the next event is scheduled, you hear about it on social media long before you receive the registration e-mail.

Which version of this event would you like your attendees to experience? If I have convinced you that the social media–enabled version of the event offers the richest, most valuable experience, sit down with my five steps and get social, strategically.