Defense lawyers used to kid me that I would go to my state trial lawyer’s association and the American Association of Trial Lawyers conferences to get religion. Their point being that I learned new ideas, networked with other plaintiff’s trial lawyers and came back all enthused.

I didn’t disagree. Those conferences, and what I gained by attending them, were the single biggest reason I joined the associations and continued to pay the substantial dues and conference fees. I came back telling other lawyers about the conferences and what they could gain by becoming a member.

Associations no longer have to rely on members like me spreading the word about their conferences and the benefits of membership. Social media has become a powerful medium to not only make conferences more meaningful to attendees, but to also broaden a conference’s reach beyond the conference walls.

Social media such as video, audio (soundcloud), blogging, Twitter, and Facebook engage an association’s target audience in real time and in a very cost effective fashion. The outcome: membership retention; more attendees at upcoming conferences; and happy exhibitors and sponsors.

Melissa Burden (@MBurden_DN), automative writer at Detroit News reports this year’s North America Auto Show has ramped up its social media efforts.

One, to boost the experience for those who cannot make it in person (reporting or sharing later on is not enough), and two, for those in attendance who want another level of coverage.

The auto manufacturers, the life blood of the show with their exhibits and sponsorship dollars, love the social media coverage. They take full advantage of social media to break news and information to fans via livestream, Facebook, Twitter and Instragram.

Who can blame them? Sponsors and exhibitors want all the exposure they can get. Social media coverage of their people, services, and products gets sponsors and exhibitors substantially more coverage than they get through attendees alone.

The outcome? Sponsors and exhibitors keep coming back and and are more willing to pay substantial exhibition and and sponsorship fees.

Carolin Probst-Iyer, manager of digital consumer engagement for Chevrolet, told Burden she loves that people who can’t be in attendance get a taste for the conference/

Worried about social media reducing attendance? Forget about it. The most widely covered conferences by social media, especially in the tech space, have growing attendance. Per Scott Monty (@scottmonty), Ford’s manager of digital and multimedia communications and a long time leader in social media,

I don’t think social media completely kills the auto show because there’s really nothing like being up close with the metal. There’s no question about it. Even giving them a virtual tour of the car isn’t going to do it.

Brian Hernandez (@BAHjournalist) Entertainment Reporter for Mashable, reports Sundance Film Festival is also using social media in a strong way this year.

Sundance covers the bases when it comes to social media. You can expect Tweets from celebrities, photos on Instagram and Twitter, and Facebook updates. They have also scheduled seven Google+ Hangouts with artists and special guests. Anyone can watch the Hangouts or submit a question through Google+ or Twitter with the hashtag, #SundanceHangouts.

Increased social media coverage from the Consumer Electronics Show was nothing but a positive reports technology writer, Dan Reyes (@DanReyesTchnrti).

The CES report suggests that Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Instragram has significantly increased the promotions of CES 2013 throughout the world and in making the attendees stay more informed and connected than ever. These social networks utilized the power of tweets, informational updates, exclusive contents, and sharing pictures and videos throughout the duration of the 2013 CES event.

Rather than look at social media coverage as a risk to their conferences or charging organizations looking to bring social media coverage of their conferences, legal associations ought to be embracing social media.

Image courtesy of Flickr by LWweb2dot0.