Monday, February 02, 2015

8 Social Media Lessons From Learning Technologies 2015

Europe's biggest Learning Technology show took place last week in London. Like many people I wasn't able to attend this year and followed along using social media and the various back channels. Events are no longer just for the people that attend, in the same way other events including major sporting events are followed by far more people than those that attend. Social media can have a major impact both on those attending and those following. I have had a look at lessons we can learn from this year's event.

The importance of a social media back channel

Events and exhibitors are slowing realising that the back channel can be as important as the physical event itself. Learning Technologies to their credit have a back channel team ably led by Kate Graham which allows people not attending to follow along. They also ran a series of Google hangouts which allows people to see sessions live and interact.

Smart companies realise that they can reach a much larger audience using the back channel but also engage with people at the event or those planning to attend an event. We will see how this year those companies that used social media effectively performed well in the Exit Poll of those attending. For me this means starting your social media work well in advance of the event.

Lesson 1 - Have a social media strategy for the event.

Which social networks?

Virtually all discussion and sharing at Learning Technologies takes place on Twitter. I think there is an opportunity to do far more on Facebook and LinkedIn but currently the official back channel and exhibitors focus on Twitter.

Lesson 2 - Focus on Twitter but look at options to dominate on other platforms which are underused.

Don't wait for the event

The chart below shows the total number of tweets per day mentioning the #lt15uk hashtag. There is very little use in advance of the two days of the event. The total tweets mentioning the hashtag peaked at just under 4,000 on the first day of the event.

You actually have a better chance of getting attention prior to the event and after the event when there is less noise.

Lesson 3 - Start your social media activity in advance of the event and after the event.

Use the event hashtag

I was surprised at how few people used the event hashtag both prior to the event and during the event. The authors that most mentioned the hashtag over the 7 day period were as follows.

You would expect the official account to be top and vendors such as Kineo and Brightwave then tweeted the hashtag more than anyone else, followed by a number of the official back channel team.

It can seem there is a danger of tweeting too much but the reality is that most people would only see a fraction of the 4,000 tweets that took place on the first day. This year there were also sub-topics and specific hashtags for sessions, so you could also target people following niche subjects.

Lesson 4 - Use the event hashtag and sub-hashtags where appropriate.

Encourage People to Visit Your Stand and Seminars

Below is a word cloud of the most mentioned words tweeted in association with the #lt15uk hashtag. This provides a quick visual overview of what people tweeting were sharing and focusing on. No surprises that many tweets were for exhibitors encouraging people to visit their stand.
Stand 144 was the Kineo stand and encouraging people to visit the stand seems to have worked. The exit poll found that Kineo was second when it came to 'must see' companies for those attending.

Lesson 5 - Encourage people to visit you and your seminars

Using Twitter Effectively to Engage People

Twitter allows you to do so much more than tweet words. The best users of Twitter in my view also tweet pictures, slides and videos as these are more engaging. Slides and videos work really well, as you can flip through them directly from Twitter. See the example below from Don Taylor.

Lesson 6 - Use Pictures, Slides and Videos 

Share Relevant Content

Another way to engage people is to share useful, relevant and helpful content both before and after the event. Below is a list of the articles that were most tweeted and retweeted along with the #lt15uk hashtag.

David Kelly's article was top at 22 Twitter shares, which has subsequently risen to 35.

I was pleased to see my Insider's Guide up at number 5 though 15 tweets and retweets of the link was very small. In my case I also shared the article on LinkedIn and got a lot more shares there than on Twitter. Thus the total shares of my article were actually more than David's which has had only two LinkedIn shares. I think this shows the importance of a multi-platform approach to sharing. I also think LinkedIn has a lot of potential.

Guides to the event and event wrap-ups always seem to work well. Sponge did a good LT guide this year, John Helmer did a good LT wrap-up and David Kelly produced a great back channel resource site.

Lesson 7 - Share relevant content across multiple platforms

Promote your content

What I find sad at the end of events such as Learning Technologies is to see good content languishing and no longer being promoted. So much work goes into the events but many companies seem to promote it on the day and then forget it. To me producing a great piece of content is just 50% of the task, you need to spend at least the same amount of time promoting it and distributing it. Use multiple platforms, reach out to influencers, invite comments, etc., but make sure you have a promotion plan. If you produce content without a promotion plan you are simply wasting your time.

The most shared videos from Learning Technologies this year have very small numbers of people watching them. The keynote from Robert Winston at the time of writing has just 47 views. The only 2015 video with more than 100 views currently is Charles Jennings 70:20:10 video with 121 views. There is some fantastic content from last week's event and I hope it will get heavily promoted and viewed. It is simply not true that people will find great content, you have to promote it and that means a content promotion strategy.

If you follow me you will know I have been continually retweeting and promoting a set of slides on how to do content marketing research with BuzzSumo.   It is probably only of interest to a small audience but constant promotion has ensured it has received over 60,000 views. If you have good content make sure it gets the attention it deserves.

Lesson 8 - Have a promotion strategy for your content

I hope these insights are helpful and hope to be at Learning Technologies in person next year. If you are interested in my thoughts on marketing, check them out on the Anders Pink blog and the Buzzsumo site.