"Social media isn’t new, but in the past few years we’ve seen it really explode. From a small room at Cisco Live four years ago, it’s now become a major part of the events."
Describing Cisco Live as ‘Disneyland for geeks’, Shapira said one of the keys to successful event design was ‘knowing your audience’.
"We know that our audience is 96% male, they like giveaways, good coffee and Coca-Cola and dislike marketing sales pitches. They come to our event for the educational sessions, to learn directly from our engineers."
In addition to using social media to drive event discussion, he said it could also be used to gather feedback and find out more about what delegates wanted. "This year we asked for delegates’ Twitter handles, so we could gain as much information about their likes and dislikes as possible. We can find out what sort of places they like to eat and what their hobbies are - it means we can better deliver what they’re looking for and personalise the experience."
In addition to using social media for personalisation, Shapira said it was important for event planners to understand who was tweeting, as well as measuring output. "We want as much of the social media content as possible to come from our delegates, rather than sponsors or the Cisco Live team. It’s easy to say ‘yes we’re getting thousands of tweets’, but we need to understand where they’re coming from and if it’s the type of content we really want."
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