Social Media Needs Strategic Management, Too

When I first wrote about using social media tools, such as Twitter at meetings, attendees were using the technology to tweet back and forth during event sessions about how the presentation was going, exchanging opinions and then collaborating to propose questions to the panelists or presenter. How industrious and efficient!
Now, social media tools are taking on greater importance in overall strategic meetings management, according to an article in Meeting News. While planners have been busy using social media to do things l

ike integrate the tools into their online registration and conference sites and send out speaker and logistical information, organizations are making broader decisions about how and why to use the tools in their meetings programs.

That's a smart move because you'll want to make sure planners and their attendees are using social media to support your SMMP goals and increase your program value -- as well as adhere to corporate guidelines and policies around internal and external communications.

The article quoted a meetings tech consultant who said that companies are formulating policies on who will be responsible for the technology, which tools to implement and how to attract users. I work with some of our customers to accomplish the same thing, encouraging them to own this space as part of their travel and meetings programs; it’s all about enterprise mobility remember?

Understandably, there's a certain degree of cautiousness out there to implement an organization-wide tool. In the story, one association executive which used Twitter to satisfy members' needs to communicate in real-time and distribute conference material, acknowledged that "there is a fear of lack of control, and you don't have control over social media. It is an open forum, people can say what they want to say, and that makes people nervous. Our strategy is definitely cautious, but we are getting there."

In the meantime, social media continues to revolutionize how people and organizations communicate. Consider some of these statistics I found on the blog Socialnomics:

- 96% of "Generation Y" members have joined a social network;
- It took 38 years for radio to reach 50 million listeners, but Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months;
- 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, but only 14% trust advertising.

Yes, social media is cool, and it can streamline planning processes, enrich content, facilitate instant feedback to help you measure ROI -- and even attract new event sponsorship opportunities. But be careful to choose tools that match your SMMP goals and company policies, and make it a priority to appoint a watchdog who monitors how your employees or association members use -- or abuse -- the tools.

I'd call it exercising "enthusiastic caution." 

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management