Keep the Conversation Alive All Year

Aliah Wright is online manager for the Society for Human Resource Management, where she is responsible for keeping association members both connected to their field and to its annual event.

Wright, who will speak at the Expo Social Media Summit next Tuesday in Washington, D.C., talks about what she does to create a 365-day relationship with members via social media.

Expo: Everybody’s interested in this idea of a 365-day relationship with event participants, but it’s hard to keep it going. What is the most important thing you need to do to keep the enthusiasm for an event going, say, six or nine months out?

Aliah Wright: Conversation! Our members are engaged with what’s going on at our annual conference because we’re always keeping them up to date with news. We publish several stories online about human resources-related events, shoot hours and hours of video, tweet, and facilitate conversations online about what they’ve experienced.

Having up-to-date content is critical and we update our front page with HR news daily that is also shared across social channels. SHRM publishes both a magazine and has an online news department, of which I am part, that shares and engages with HR professionals long after the conference is done. We provide them information on what they can expect at subsequent conferences all year long, in addition to giving them news—the most pressing HR news of the day—at  

Expo: Do you have a social media schedule? How far out from the show does it start?

Wright: Last year, our social media director started having conversations in April with our staff about our social media strategy for the conference that was being held in Chicago in June. That included what things we would discuss and highlight and certain events that would be occurring—like the Tweetup, a party with DJ Jazzy Jeff at the House of Blues in Chicago—which wound up trending on Twitter.

We also hold social media trainings for staff, something I highly recommend in my book, so everyone in the company is aware of appropriate online behavior and which channels we’ll be using and to answer any questions or concerns that may arise.  

Expo: Which social media channels do you find work best for you and your association, and why?

Wright: We go where people are and, since there are more than a billion accounts on Facebook and hundreds of millions on Twitter and LinkedIn, we have a major presence on those sites. Our Facebook page has 77,000 likes; there are 75,000 followers to our @SHRM handle and nearly 14,000 followers to our @weknownext account.

We also have dozens of other Twitter accounts powered by our employees and members who are volunteers. We use LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, SHRM Connect (our social networking site for SHRM members) and Yammer (for employees), as well.  

As for me personally? I love Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Instagram, SHRM Connect, Yammer, and TVTag, formerly Get Glue, where you can find me discussing The Walking Dead, Scandal, House of Cards, Downton Abbey, and any vampire TV show or horror movie! I also use Quora and Viddy, as well.  

Lastly, more connectedness means more engagement and research is showing that having social features integrated into the tools people use to get work done makes it easier for adoption and continued use. There has to be a business purpose for your social media use. If the purpose is to increase engagement and grow membership or the bottom line, well, social media conversations can do that. Companies find more success with social sites when they tie that usage into their business goals.

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Posted by Michael Hart

Michael Hart is the executive editor of Expo. Reach him at View all articles by Michael Hart →