Get Ready

by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, October 7, 2010

This past Monday, I was fortunate to appear on Bryan Wempen's daily blog talk radio show, "Drive Thru HR," to promote the Wisconsin SHRM State Conference, currently going on in Appleton, WI. The conversation turned to the topic of social media.

Of late, social media has become a growing component of the conference experience. The 2010 SHRM Annual Conference had their first annual blog squad to highlight conference activities, and a social media lounge. Illinois SHRM, HRFlorida, and Ohio SHRM had bloggers and heavy activity on the Twitter stream. As expected the HR Technology Conference was rife with social media experience with a number of bloggers and the HR Happy Hour. HR Southwest is starting up soon and it, too, will take a stab at carving up a part of the social media pie. You even see wonderful companies staking out a claim in this area, such as the Stelzner/Ruettimann powerhouse, "Voice of HR."

However, two major state HR conferences are going on this week, with relatively little fanfare: the 2010 Michigan SHRM Conference and the aforementioned 2010 WISHRM conference. While I can't speak for Michigan, WISHRM10 has over 1100 attendees, exhibitors, speakers, and guests....all with limited promotion on social media avenues. No major bloggers....no social media sessions....a relatively quiet Twitter stream.

So, I posed a number of HR bingo-type questions on Bryan's show: What is the return on all this social media activity? Is it creating a buzz? And is this buzz creating increased revenue to the state council? Are more people attending? Is it creating interest for future years of the conference? What is the bottom line of this activity?

Wisconsin SHRM enters its first full day of conference activity today. 1100 individuals will be busy enjoying the activities and learning, oblivious to the social media world's comments.

2 comments

Matt, I agree that we somehow need to do some type of measure on what the return is on the time invested in social media as it relates to SHRM State Conferences. It would be great to get a "meeting of the minds" to discuss how to do this to see if it really makes a difference to the bottom line or it is just something cool to do.

I know that more people now know about ILSHRM than before after this year's conference but how does it relate to higher attendance? Wish I knew.

by John Jorgensen on October 7, 2010 at 9:23 AM. #

In my mind, and I admit I have no data to back this up, I think the enhanced social media activity leads to potential “future” returns. While at this stage it may not matter much to the average attendee, I do think it can serve to differentiate one conference from another in the minds of exhibitors, sponsors, and potential speakers. If we can successfully leverage the relationship with the sponsors/exhibitors and speakers and provide a mechanism for them to reach a larger audience – we’ve created some value for the conference and its attendees.

Now I also hope that the attendees find enhanced SM activity at a conference or through a state council/chapter as a safe way to “learn.” If Holly HRD can feel comfortable finally exploring twitter, or discovering some blogs and realizing the educational and engagement opportunities that await her, well – that is awesome!

At some stage, the use of various SM tools or communication will become the norm – we may one day expect to check in via 4square or something similar in order to get regular “shouts” during the conference. We may one day just naturally expect that there will be streaming content or twitter back channel discussions for those of us who can’t attend a conference. These sorts of things will come to be – just as with any other operating/technology changes that have come before them. I remember when we went from MAILING or FAXING meeting invitations/announcements to “only” sending chapter meeting invitations/announcements via email. The last group of resisters (10%?) finally had to adapt and get an email address ; kicking and screaming all the way. Would you find it believable that I run into ‘professionals’ (in various roles) who have never in their life attended a webinar? – because they are still out there; I run into them all the time. At some stage, they will have no choice but to finally adapt.

So it becomes a question of do you want to be one of the first arrivals at the party, or one of the last? Late arrivals are always welcome – but all the good hors d’oeuvres may be gone.

by Robin Schooling on October 13, 2010 at 10:26 AM. #

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