Averting Online Criticism

by | Apr 1, 2015

Have you been stung by the online crowd criticising your event? Are you worried about encouraging the use of social media in case you end up looking bad?

Any heated debate surrounding your event should be about the issues pertaining to the conference, not about logistical niggles that could have been averted. In this post, we explore some simple techniques for avoiding a social media backlash about the organisation of your event.

Planning to Please


1. Learn from the Past

Always create an archive of the social media activity around your events so you can look back and learn from them. You can do this automatically using a tool like Martin Hawksey’s TAGS or manually by creating a private (unpublished) Storify summary that just features all the criticism of your event. This will be a really valuable resource later.

When you come to plan your next event, look back over your social media archives from previous events. What did people gripe about most?

At the type of events we cover, it is often the lack of plug sockets, poor wifi connectivity and the diversity of speakers that attract the most grumbling. Other event audiences may have a different set of expectations.

2. Learn from Others

If this is your first amplified event, or your first event in a particular sector, then look at the online criticisms levelled at other events in that sector.

Follow a similar event on Twitter for a day and note both the compliments and the slip ups that attracted attention online. This will help you to create a list of “dos” and “don’ts” specific to your audience and is a good way to learn the expected etiquette for the sector. You should use your search engine of choice to locate blog posts and other online commentary that critiques the event.

3. Identify Preventative Measures

Where possible, consider how to plan around the issues that are likely to cause complaints.

For instance, if you have a choice over your venue, look for one with plenty of power and really robust wifi. If you don’t have a choice, look for alternative solutions to the common problems. This may involve identifying a space where you could offer a charging station for those with laptops and other power-hungry devices, or asking delegates to refrain from uploading or downloading large files during the event to reduce the load on the wifi network.

4. Designate an Online Host

As an event organiser, you are likely to be at the registration desk or circulating around the venue assisting delegates and attending to any last minute issues face-to-face. You’re not going to be able to monitor Twitter and other popular online channels all day.

Designating an online host to monitor feedback about your event online and respond to any issues is the best way to ensure that any problems are nipped in the bud quickly.

5. Collect Online-Specific Feedback

If you are offering options for a remote, online audience to take part in your event, you should collect their feedback separately (and quickly) after an event. If you want to use one centralised feedback form, make sure there is an option for remote attendees to skip past all the questions about the catering.


Social media can be a valuable event planning tool, helping you to identify ways to improve your event experience for everyone. Event organisers new to event amplification should look for ways to embrace the opportunities it provides to get to know your audience and plan around them.

You can read my post Assessing the Risks: Twitter for further ideas about how to address any institutional concerns about the risks of social media engagement.


Need Help?

If you would like help planning your amplified event strategy or if you need an online host for your event, please contact [email protected] for a quote.
Image Credit: Waferboard

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