How did the American College of Cardiology generate 1,200 tweets from its Annual Scientific Sessions?

By embracing social media. It’s just one example cited in a new white paper from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events called “How to Properly Use Social Media to Enhance and Promote Your Event.”

Here’s what ACC did:

• set up a meeting-specific Twitter account a year in advance of the conference,
• encouraged attendees and exhibitors to interact about the annual conference via Twitter,
• set up a Twitter account for the meeting co-chairs, which they used to promote the meeting,
• set up a kiosk on site, with computers and takeaway materials on the basics of social media and ACC’s social-media initiatives, and
• hosted an on-site networking event for people interested in learning how to connect via social media.

The results? During the three days of the conference, there were 1,200 tweets generated with the official conference hashtag. The most tweets came from cardiologists, followed by exhibitors and media. A further promotional boost was delivered by two bloggers—one international and one U.S.-based—who agreed to blog information about the sessions they attended in exchange for free registration.

The IAEE white paper looks at other case studies as well. The National Association of Broadcasters, for example, was able to increase attendance by 10 percent for its 2009 annual meeting and by about 7 percent for its 2010 annual meeting while decreasing its overall marketing budget. NAB cut back on traditional marketing campaigns, but increased funding for social-media marketing, creating meeting-focused accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and message boards to promote the conference. Of all the marketing strategies used, social media generated the highest return on investment. Of the various social-media outlets, Twitter performed the best.

The National Association of School Nurses created an ¬online platform to promote its annual conference. All 1,200 attendees and speakers were given access. The meeting schedule and program was downloaded onto the platform so attendees could see all the sessions and who was speaking. There was also a message board—led by a community manager—where people could discuss the sessions or the meeting in general. About 70 percent of attendees engaged in the online community before the annual conference in some 263 public conversations. Also, 51 percent of attendees built their schedules using the itinerary-scheduler function.

The 16-page white paper, developed by IAEE’s Social Media Task Force, also includes a compendium of social media tips, strategies, benefits, trends, and statistics culled from various sources. According to the paper, “The opportunity is not about mastering a certain tool. It is about developing a process for using social-media solutions and strategies to plan for change. As technology evolves, the ability to adapt and take advantage of the tools will define success.” Social technology, according to the white paper, will evolve from a networking to a learning tool. “Exhibitions and events of the future will be more collaborative, participatory, and engaging—with both face-to-face and virtual attendees. Collaboration tools will help facilitate learning. Social media will enable engagement, sustainability, and credibility.”

Go to the IAEE Web site to get a copy of the white paper.