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August 20, 2012
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The top five social media meetings initiatives




Convene’s readers nominated the industry’s best programs, services, and venues in 10 different categories, and editors culled the top five for each to create a list of the 50 best things in meetings today.

The following are the top five social media initiatives — click here to read the entire list.

TIA’s Play Happens
toyfairnyblog.com/play-happens

What could be more fun than attending the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) Annual Toy Fair (pictured), held every winter at the Javits Center in New York City? How about playing a game while attending the Toy Fair? Since last year’s show, TIA has turned the Big Apple into a giant game board, incorporating the city’s restaurants and landmarks into a smartphone- and tablet-enabled game called “Play Happens.” Attendees earn points (and win prizes) for checking into designated spots and Toy Fair–related events, and for social-media engagement, said Marian Bossard, TIA’s vice president for meetings and events. The grand prize is a doozy — a hotel room overlooking Times Square on New Year’s Eve — but every player wins prizes.

NAR’s Conference Live

narconferencelive.com
When the depressed housing market put a crimp in some National Association of Realtors (NAR) members’ plans to attend the REALTORS Conference & Expo, organizers opened a virtual window. Since 2010, NAR has recruited about two dozen attendees with large online followings to serve as a collective digital “voice of the conference,” said Allison Fitch-Markham, marketing director for NAR’s conventions division. NAR sets up individual pages on the conference website and gives invited attendees free rein to blog about sessions and post photos. Although it’s not rare for any conference’s attendees to blog about the meeting, the level of support that NAR gives to its cadre of “Featured Attendees” is uncommon. NAR assigns two full-time staff members whose job it is during the meeting to help bloggers upload content, so the social-media mavens are as free as possible to enjoy the event.

Active Network’s SMM Blog
convn.org/smmp-blog
A blog becomes a must-read by being narrowly focused enough to consistently yield relevant information and wide-ranging enough to encompass the news, white papers, and opinions you might otherwise miss. That would serve as a pretty good description of the Strategic Meetings Management blog by Kevin Iwamoto, vice president of enterprise strategy for Active Network, where Iwamoto calls on 20 years of managing corporate travel and meetings programs to look at everything from the euro crisis to the Sunshine Act from a meetings-related point of view. His blogging pace is steady, rather than frenetic, making it easy — if not mandatory — to keep up with him.

Salt Lake’s Social Media Hub
convn.org/outdoor-hub
convn.org/usana-hub
Visit Salt Lake offers organizers of city-wide conventions a service that combines an organization’s own social-media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs, with Visit Salt Lake’s social-media channels. That sounds like an offer that could come with a lot of strings attached, but, although Visit Salt Lake creates the tool, it carries the conference sponsor’s logo — Visit Salt Lake reserves only one tab for itself on the landing page. After the event, the tool can be turned over to the organization to keep. Visit the links above to compare how the same tool looks when used by two different organizations.

HIMSS 2012 Conference & Exhibition
convn.org/HIMSS-social
At the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference & Exhibition, social media is no marketing-message-laden frill, according to Cari McLean, HIMSS’s social media manager, but a tool used to deliver valuable content for attendees. Among the things that set HIMSS apart is the depth of its social-media training. Not only are HIMSS staff trained and given the go-ahead to use social media, this year for the first time, HIMSS trained speakers on using social media before the meeting, and hosted a pre-conference Twitter chat for first-time attendees. A social-media pavilion offered education on site. “We were also lucky,” McLean said, “to kick off the conference with Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, as our opening keynote speaker.”


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