The events industry is all about moments. These unique, shared experiences between participants, volunteers, staff members, and spectators are what make your event extraordinary. They build loyalists, and are why participants want to return. Whether your ultimate goal is fundraising or experiential marketing-related, the experiences have a lifetime far longer than the event itself. Social media provides a unique avenue to capitalize on those moments. You can extend the passion and excitement surrounding an event for those who were present, and you can even bring in people virtually via social media channels. When done strategically, sharing these moments via social media can bring together your constituents into an engaged online community. Here are 10 tips on how to rock your on event social media.
1. Before the event, spread the word about your social media channels. At least two weeks before the event create posts about what social media platforms you’ll be utilizing. Include key information such as which hashtags to use. Your emails and website should have links to your social media platforms. Even better, automatic share buttons built into your website are a one-click spot for visitors to share your event on their social media – while simultaneously linking to your social channels and website. Cross promoting your channels on your other social media networks is also key. You may introduce an avid-Facebook fan to your new Twitter account.
2. Make sure your post’s structure matches the social media outlet. Artsy, individual shots may perform best on your Instagram account, while candid group shots drive higher engagement numbers on your Facebook page. Twitter might be great for in-the-moment updates that overwhelm your Facebook followers. Take a look at the analytics (or online articles if you’re just starting) to see what type of content each outlet’s fans want to see, and structure your posts to capitalize on trends.
3. Don’t decide your on-event strategy when you’re on the event. Now that you’ve got everything set up to spread the word about your event, it’s a good time to outline the types of things you’ll be posting about at the event. We all know that when you’re on event, you’ll be pulled in too many directions. Taking the time pre-event to outline what your on-event social media strategy will be, makes it that much easier to implement it! This will also ensure if you need to get any approvals or stakeholder an idea, you can do so without delays when you’re at the event.
4. Showcase behind-the-scenes. Don’t lie, you’d JUMP at the chance to go backstage at your favorite band’s concert or watch a taping of your favorite television show. Social media gives you the opportunity to provide your event participants with that same experience, without spending hours providing individual tours. Give your social media followers VIP treatment, showcasing the site build, green room access, or even a sneak peek at the goody bags.
5. Don’t forget to empower your proudest, most active users. Do you have passionate participants who “like” every post you make? Empower these people; known as your influencers, to help spread the word. You can ask these brand advocates to retweet significant tweets leading up to the event or to share your informational Facebook posts during the event. To go above and beyond, we recommend finding them at your event to thank them in person or even sending them a handwritten post-event thank you note. Loyalty is a wonderful gift given to social media managers.
6. Interact in real-time with your followers and fans. Was a great photo shared at the event? Retweet it or comment on it to show that you appreciate the support. Even a “like” can go a long way with participants. Unlike other marketing avenues, social media is supposed to be a real-time conversation…the key word being conversation.
7. Be prepared for customer service to happen in real-time. Anticipate that your participants will have questions and that they’ll come to social media looking for answers. Check in on your event platforms and moderate questions and concerns. Be ready with a designated person who can step in and advise when you’re not sure how to answer specific concerns- or cover for you if you’re too busy!
8. Have a plan for crisis communication. While we never want to think that something could go wrong at your event, unfortunately, things happen. Establish a crisis-communication team (or point person) that can help you handle informing your participants and answer sticky subjects online should an emergency arise.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and encourage real-time feedback. Instead of waiting for the post-event survey, why not ask participants about their experience while it’s happening? Passion and enthusiasm are clearly conveyed via real-time quotes on social media, often in a way that feels more genuine than what is shared in a formal review or survey. By actively asking the questions while the excitement is still there, you can obtain passionate responses to use in your future marketing materials.
Tip 10. Don’t forget to engage after the event. You had an amazing event, and social media was rockin’. However, your work isn’t done yet. Engaging after an event is important, because the excitement is still running high. Encourage participants to share photos. Ask questions about your participants’ favorite moments. “Like”, retweet and comment on anything participants take the time to post. This keeps your participants excited, knowing somebody is on the other side who’s just as excited to share in these special experiences.
As mentioned at the beginning, your event creates moments for your participants, and a strong on-event social media strategy is a powerful, personal way to spread the energy and passion of these moments with your entire community. As far as ROI (you’ve been waiting, we know!), the marketing benefits for an on-event social strategy are tangible. You’ve showcased your brand, made current participants feel the recognition that they deserve, built a means to gather and harness that excitement, and engaged a totally different audience from afar. You’ve also simultaneously started marketing for your next year’s event to all of your audience’s social networks. Well played.
Katie works on marketing and sponsorship for MuckFest® MS, an event that rallies participants for a 5K romp through mud and obstacles in support of a world free of multiple sclerosis. She also enjoys exploring the city of Chicago with her tiny, sweater-clad puppy, Annie. Connect with her here: LinkedIn, Twitter.
Alyssa works on social media for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, a 60-mile walk to end breast cancer. When she’s not tweeting, “Liking”, or blogging, she’s crafting recipes in the kitchen, hiking, or buying more nail polish she doesn’t need. Tweet her on Twitter or link up with her on LinkedIn.