Whether you love or loathe it, using social media at events is a crucial aspect of your event marketing strategy. The bottom line is that just about everyone is ‘on’ some form of social media these days – your guests included – which means that they expect your event and your brand to be there too. Have a look at the ten commandments below to ensure that you have your social media marketing bases covered for your next event.
The first commandment: Thou shalt choose the best social media channels
According to the eBizMBA Guide, the most popular social networking channels for creating a buzz around your events in 2016 are (ranked in order of popularity) Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus+, Tumblr and Instagram. That said, the channels you use will depend on your guests’ demographics – there’s no use posting on Tumblr if the majority of your guests are only on LinkedIn. You could link blogs from Tumblr onto your event’s LinkedIn page, however.
The second commandment: Thou shalt get to know thy social media apps
Do your homework and familiarise yourself with each app’s functionality and how each can be best integrated into your event marketing strategy. Read up about each specific app, download and install the ones that appeal to you and are relevant to your guests. Get used to using them yourself. Follow other event professionals and observe how they use social media at events to their advantage.
Commandment #3: Thou shalt use social media before, at and after your event
Your event’s marketing strategy should integrate social media channels from the get-go. You need to carefully plot and plan how you will use social media to create a buzz around your event both pre-, during and post event. For maximum impact, there needs to be activity at each of these points.
Commandment #4: Thou shalt align your event marketing strategy to your broader strategy
It’s a no-brainer that your event’s marketing strategy should be closely linked to your brand marketing strategy. Events grow brand recognition. You will still want to be able to generate post-event conversations and interactions around your brand or product once your event is over, so make sure that the buzz you create through social media at events remains relevant to your bigger, brand marketing picture.
Commandment #5: Thou shalt create, use and market a unified, event-specific hashtag
Create one event hashtag, well in advance of your event, that you can then leverage across social media channels. Include this hashtag in email signatures, advertising, invitations sent via your event management online software, and in event bios. Encourage your event speakers to use this hashtag across their own social media channels when putting word out about their involvement.
Commandment #6: Thou shalt mix it up and use visuals and video in your social media strategy
Interactive audio-visuals are a ‘must’ in your social media at events. Channels for audio-visual communication include YouTube (for livestreaming event activities, or for pre-event advertising purposes across a number of social media channels), Flickr (to build a photo record of the event for future event advertising) and Slideshare (to publish presentations for easy access). Well-designed and branded graphics that are unique to your event should be used across all social media platforms to help create your event’s distinctive brand identity.
Commandment #7: Thou shalt ensure social media accessibility at your event
On the day of your event, remind your guests which social media channels to follow and which hashtags to use. You can use live-streaming and daily summaries to encourage ongoing engagement in event-related conversation. Charging stations for devices are also a must at your event.
Commandment #8: Thou shalt have a response team for social media engagement
BizBash recommends that you develop an event response team to track social media interactions around your brand and event in real-time. How will the team respond to comments on social media? Who will trouble-shoot negative feedback in real-time? Who will be responsible for keeping their finger on the pulse of the popular buzz around your event? Be sure to assign someone to the task of collating all of this information to improve on future event experiences.
Commandment #9: Thou shalt encourage event guests to participate in social media channels attached to your event.
Facebook is the most popular social media channel at present. But not all of your guests will be on Facebook. This is why utilising and blending a number of social media channels into your event marketing strategy is key to reaching all event guests to encourage them to engage in online dialogue around your event. All social media at events needs to be curated by a social media response team, so just remember that the more channels you add, the tighter your social media response strategy will need to be.
Commandment #10: Thou shalt know how to measure the success of your social media strategy
How will you know if your event’s social media strategy has been successful? By setting clear metrics to gauge your success. Develop a one sentence strategy for each activity to summarise what you want to achieve with your social media strategy.