A few days ago, I was asked if I had any thoughts about event-specific social networking services. After responding to the email, I thought that I would turn it into a blog post to see whether people agree or disagree with my views.
I went to a few conferences this year that set up event-specific social networks for the conference. Some I joined and then neglected without contributing anything, and others I never bothered to join at all. I didn’t stay engaged with any of the services.
I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of social networking sites specifically for conferences. There are a couple of reasons:
- Most of us already belong to more social networks and communities than we can effectively manage. Joining one more social network and maintaining information and contacts in one more place is not something that most people will spend time doing.
- Conferences and events are bound by time; we attend them for a few hours or a few days a year. We learn new things and meet new people during the event, but few of us will spend time trying to extend this networking time online for any significant period of time before or after the event.
- There are so many better ways to keep up with people after an event that fit more easily into our everyday lives (Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc.)
I like the goal of making it easy for people to connect before, during and after an event, but there are better ways to do this:
- Engage with people on an existing social network that is already heavily used by your audience. Facebook groups, for example, are a good way for a conference to encourage information sharing and networking among 20-30 year olds or people working in technology.
- Provide a way for members to find each other with an online member directory linking to contact information, Twitter handles, blogs, etc.
Here are my questions for you:
- Have you ever found an event specific social network useful to you over any extended period of time?
- If so, how did you use it?
- If not, why do you think it wasn’t useful?
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