by David T on Mon 26 September 2016

Having a social media wall at your next conference or event is becoming pretty typical, if not expected these days. The engagement opportunities are simply too great to ignore. However, doing a search for "social media wall for events" on Google results in pages and pages of results, with each platform offering their own set of features and terminology. It's enough to make any event professional or marketer throw their hands up in frustration.

We'll try to cut through some of the noise surrounding this technology and highlight the most crucial features that you must have in your next social media wall in order to have a successful event. The following list is in no particular order.

Available Filters

Filters, Feeds, or Networks. The words change, but essentially it refers to the sources and rules that are available for you to automatically aggregate your content.

Most social media wall platforms have the basic networks: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And allow you to collect hashtags and account posts. But there are details to consider and be aware of!

For example, for certain types of accounts you need to be able to log in with your account authorization to aggregate posts, whether it's due to privacy settings or age restrictions. Your social media aggregator needs to support your login credentials as well as maintain its security. Or on Instagram, if people are posting with your hashtag but they're on a private account but are friends with your account, you can't aggregate their content by default. But by providing your account login information, then the aggregation tool can collect your private friends' Instagram posts.

Update Frequency

This one is straightforward, make sure your social media aggregation tool can update posts in real time( or near real time if they're being honest with you). This means you'll typically get your attendee's posts showing up in your display in about a minute after they've been posted.

Don't worry, this is still plenty fast enough especially if you're considering moderating your content.

Moderation

Speaking of which, don't just allow any content to show up on your social media wall. The last thing you need is profanity or unwanted images being shown to all your attendees! So be sure your social media aggregator has moderation features to allow you to control what shows up in your public display.

But beyond the basic ability to ban what shows up on your public social wall. Some advanced moderation features might save you a ton of headache and time during your event. The last thing you want to do is to be managing your posts every minute during your event.

Make sure you have the option to choose between 'approve by default' vs 'moderate by default'. Approve by default means all posts that are collected are automatically approved and will immediately show on your public display. Moderate by default means all posts that are collected must go through moderation before showing up in your public display. Furthermore, be sure you can control the moderation at a per filter level. This means you typically would want to have your owned accounts to be set to 'approve by default' whereas public social media content such as hashtags might be set with moderation level to be 'moderate by default'. This will enable all your own content to show up immediately on the wall, but your audience content will be gated. This subtle but important point enables you to focus on your event and audience rather than your social media wall.

Finally, see if there are automatic rules to help simplify your job. Some platforms allow you to set sophisticated rules such as keywords, users, or 'spam likelihood' to determine whether certain posts should be automatically banned when collected. Imagine being able to automatically ban all profanity, or posts from a certain account that is clashing with your hashtag or intentionally trying to spam your hashtag. Spare yourself the headache, set the automatic moderation rules, never see any of these posts, and go on with your event.

Configurability

Once you have all your filter rules defined to automatically aggregate your content and reviewed all your moderation options, the next thing to verify in your social media wall platform is whether it has easy to use options for you to quickly configure a dynamic looking social media display. The configuration options to look for are obviously the look and view of it, but be sure you have simple controls to modify the behavior as well.

For look, check that there are lots of different themes that exist for you to choose from, and whether there are various customization options to make the posts themselves look differently if needed. Check that your social media tool knows how to properly handle images so they're fully displayed, check that videos will automatically play on your wall, and check that text can be configured to display in a proper size and resolution.

For behavior, see if there are configuration options to easily control how the social media wall behaves. Some of these might be controls to determine if video should automatically play. Or control the animation speed of the scrolling or sliding of new posts. Are there automatic options to control the amount of posts or the timeframe of posts that are cycled through the display? You may have a long standing campaign or active hashtag with thousands of posts, but at your event you may only want to display the activity from the last couple of days.

And for the advanced user, you may even want to consider social media wall tools that allow you to fully customize using your own CSS. This gives you the full styling capability to shape the social media wall to your exact requirements.

Brand-ability

Of course, putting a social wall is another opportunity to highlight your brand, message, or sponsors. Be sure your platform has the ability to easily add these messages and logos. And further, check if there are special call outs available to really make your sponsors or brand stand out on your wall.

Audience Engagement

And finally, why put up a social wall if not to increase audience engagement. Make sure your display platform has available controls to allow you to truly engage your audience while you're sitting at your dashboard.

This means the ability to take over a screen and show a particular piece of content ( think during a Q&A session ). Or whether you can add your own adhoc content to the wall at a whim ( think call to action messages or images you want to highlight to the audience ).

Looking for more ideas on how to promote your event using social media? Take a look at this simple pre and post checklist for promoting your next event.

These are a set of basic questions to ask the next time you're looking for a social media wall display tool to show hashtags or your own social content at your next conference or event. Did we miss any critical features that you thought were important to the success at your last event. If so, let us know in the comments below!

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