When you travel boldly in the social media universe, mistakes are bound to happen.

“The biggest mistake is doing nothing,” says Noah Smith, executive consultant for AlexGPR.com, a public relations company specializing in social media and brand management. “Events such as tradeshows and conventions are the best places to curate followers and increase your reach."

He adds, “You’ll tweet more during a tradeshow than you do in two or three weeks. By engaging in social media, you're not only picking up followers, but quality followers that are interested in your brand.”

By contrast, there are companies that do too much. They concentrate excessively on promotion instead of sincere engagement.

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“Some companies and organizations will simply engage in bare-knuckled promotion,” says David Erickson, vice president of online marketing for Karwoski and Courage, a Minneapolis public relations firm. “They interrupt the engagement experience with too many promotional messages, which turns people off.”

Before the start of an event, social media planners should determine a content ratio to serve marketing and sales needs. For example, a decision might be made to have five pieces of content in favor of the audience’s interest compared to one about the company.

Guy Kawasaki, author of The Art of Social Media, highlights some of the most common mistakes made at meetings and events. They include:

  • Creating hashtags that are too long and complex.
  • Not encouraging attendees strongly enough to use the hashtag.
  • Not providing a good place for people to take photos.
  • Failing to have a knowledgeable, dedicated person to perform all the social media activities at the event.
  • Failure to take the full inventory of pictures and video from the event and sharing them later.

Kawasaki and other experts believe hashtag misuse and confusion is a recipe for disaster.

“The biggest mistake I see planners and marketers make for any event is they don’t pretest their hashtag,” says Carolyn Wilman, a social media strategist for IdeaMajesty.com. “It’s too late once they discover it’s being used for another event and it makes it difficult for both events to track conversations, and it ruins any analytics from programs such as TweetReach as the numbers will be skewed.”

Longer is not necessarily better with hashtags.

“Don’t hog all of the space with a long hashtag,” says Emily Maxie, marketing director for SIGNiX, a cloud-based digital signature company. “Remember, hashtags must fit within Twitter’s 140-character limit along with a message, a link or even a few Twitter handles.”

Jim Spellos, president of Meeting U. and a top meetings industry social media and technology speaker, says that no matter how sophisticated a meeting or event’s social media component is, planners should make sure to not leave out those who may be new to the whole idea.

“If [attendees] are doing this for the first time, expect a lot of basic questions and have staff members available to help,” he says. “If you’re going to move in that direction you need to make sure your attendees are comfortable and not ostracized for not being in the ‘in crowd.’ Be aware of the needs and learning curve of the group.”