Social media mistakes made by conference organisers (part 1)

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If there’s one thing Melbourne knows how to do (besides café culture), it’s how to host an international conference.

In the past two years Melbourne has hosted three of the world’s largest science and medical conferences; the World Diabetes Congress; the World Congress of Cardiology and the massive International AIDS conference.

It’s fair to say Australia:

  • knows how attract international conferences to Australia
  • how to attract high numbers of delegates
  • how to attract sponsors –

Three of the most important aspects of the conference business.

So what does make Australia successful in this space? Some would be quick to say it’s the use of social media. It might be a bit of a humblebrag, but we use it well.

It’s important to make the disclaimer (before we go any further) that social media isn’t going to fix all you’re conferencing problems, but it can game changer if implemented correctly.

However, more people do it wrong than right, so what are some of the big mistakes you can avoid?

No hashtag strategy

A #hashtag can make or break a conference on social media. Do the research and make sure the hashtag you want to use is not being used by someone else around the same time.

Duplicate hashtags happen all the time and it is extremely frustrating for people following the hashtag for a couple of months out from a conference and during conference week to see it polluted with another topic sharing the same hashtag.

An example of this is #ICSB. That hashtag was shared in the same year for the International Conference for Systems Biology Congress, the International Council for Small Business and the International Conference on the Science of Botanicals.


It’s also essential to think about sub categories of supporting hashtags that will get your conference seen by the target audience in the lead up to your conference. Some that are relevant in Australia with scientists include: #IdeasBoom, #EMCR #AusSci #MRFF #HCSM. This is a strategy to aid delegate registrations and exposure to wider audiences.

Not actively managing the conference Twitter / Facebook

This is surprisingly common. Once the conference is up and running the conference communications and marketing team more or less abandon the Twitter / Facebook profile because they’re ‘too busy.’

There are two key phases to the social media strategy for conferences – stimulating registrations and then enhancing the conference experience during the meeting.

The social media team need to be looking to promote speakers, sharing highlights and promoting preferred photos and quotes from those speakers (this may be prearranged).

The team should also be actively managing questions, watching for people using the wrong hashtags or tagging incorrectly then steering them back to the track.

Sponsors, session chairs and VIPs such as Ministers deserve a bit of promotion during the meeting. Monitoring tools will tell you who the most influential delegates are on social media and conference organisers should be retweeting them and engaging with them in the moment to stimulate a bigger audience and to keep them working to help you

There is like to be an audience spread around the world watching the hashtag because they weren’t able to make it as a delegate – make sure you give them something to tweet about. Maybe they’ll come next year.

I know you want to find out more conferencing mistakes, but unfortunately you’re going to have to wait until part 2 is published tomorrow.


Michelle Gallaher

Read Part 2 here

By | 2018-04-20T11:42:46+00:00 June 7th, 2016|Social Media, Twitter|0 Comments

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