Ha ha. I can only imagine what you’re thinking right now, but I promise there’s an important lesson here to be learned (at the very least, considered).
This past weekend, I had a bit of time on my hands. I started by catching up on past episodes of “The Voice.” For those that don’t know, “The Voice” is an American Idol-style singing competition inviting vocalists from across the country to compete in three stages of competition: the blind audition, a battle phase and the live performance shows.
Celebrity musician coaches include Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Additionally, Carson Daly—best known for his gig as a VJ on MTV’s TRL—serves as the program’s host. What I find most fascinating, however, is that Christina Milian has joined the lineup this season as the show’s social media correspondent.
What does she do, you ask?
Well, that’s simple. Milian is tasked with bridging the on-air experience with the online experience, bringing viewers closer to the competition. Fans are able to experience and engage in each step of the process through exclusive interviews, video, photos, news about the coaches and artists, and a live Twitter feed.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have a television network like QVC. You may know that QVC is one of the largest multimedia retailers in the world. It broadcasts live in the U.S. 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, and presents approximately 1,150 products on air every week. Over the years, QVC has enjoyed record-breaking sales, has received countless industry awards and has donated millions of dollars to charity.
But that’s not the end of the story.
QVC established its Facebook page in July 2008 and its Twitter page in January 2009. Attracting a large social following, QVC now integrates these platforms into its live shows, instantaneously responding to customer feedback and inquiries. In fact, the most popular weekly shows have a designated social media host that engages with the audience right alongside the traditional program host.
And it’s about more than just chatting live with viewers (or getting them to buy more products). It’s about engagement. It’s about community. It’s about culture. It’s about branding. It’s about creating a dynamic viewer experience that’s fun, informative, unique and personal. And, ultimately, it’s this direct connection to the QVC staff that keeps viewers coming back each week (and, presumably, spending more money).
And these are just two simple examples of social media hard at work in our day-to-day lives (outside of the workplace). Other competition shows like “Dancing with the Stars,” “American Idol” and “Fashion Star” have also followed suit. This makes me think seriously about the opportunities within our own associations to better leverage the social media experience.
How would a dedicated social media correspondent change the face of your next program or event? Not only could this person reach an audience of interested individuals unable to attend your conference (both members and non-members), but he or she could further engage your onsite participants, as well. Think about it: behind-the-scenes interviews; videos, photos and news about the speakers; and a live Twitter feed. Everyone’s fascinated by the story behind the story. How could you effectively leverage this content (and curiosity) during your association’s major annual meeting?
And the conversation wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) be confined to the conference itself. Social media correspondents would reach out to and actively engage with both prospective and confirmed participants long before the conference started, and conversations would continue long after the conference ended.
All too often I think we leave out our voices in the social media experience, allowing our members to take the lead in this space. And I’m not recommending that we take over or dominate this important platform; however, I think we—as association leaders—can bring additional content to this space that will further enhance the conference experience (not to mention the infinite possibilities that exist here for content curation, transfer of learning and recruitment/retention opportunities).
So, my question to you is this: How could this model impact your association’s next major annual meeting? What affect would this outreach have on the engagement of your current (or prospective) members? What resources would it take within your own organization to designate and train a qualified social media correspondent? (And, more importantly, if you’ve experimented with a similar format, please let us hear from you! We’d love to hear your experience.)