It goes without saying that social media has dramatically altered the way that we promote events. From generating buzz to communicating updates, social media has become one of the greatest tools for event planners and marketers alike. No matter where you are in the event cycle, sharing images, videos and stories gives attendees the opportunity to engage, network and revisit event highlights.
Social media also offers an accessible, immediate space for promoting your event that – if done correctly – can prove to be a major game-changer. With that in mind, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to underestimate the planning and efforts that go into a successful social media campaign. Taking the time to carefully map out your goals, message and strategy will pay off both in the short and long term.
Create a Social Media Plan for your Event
Save as much time and stress as possible by organizing your promotional outreach from the start. Work with your team to develop a comprehensive social media strategy for your event by identifying what platforms you will be using and how you intend to use them, and then map out your plan.
Once you have a clear plan in place, pre-schedule as much of your content as possible, leaving space for news and updates as your event approaches. And be sure to designate one or more team members to oversee social media during your event, assigning roles for taking and sharing photos, posting updates, and monitoring activity on your various social media channels.
Establish Event Branding & Hashtags
From the onset, you want to make your event recognizable to guests both in terms of who you are and what your event is all about. Developing a style guide and graphic that is consistent with your brand and message is essential, as this will help you and your team stay on message without having to say a word.
Next, decide on a unique but recognizable event hashtag and incorporate that into all of your event branding. Hashtags are a highly effective way to centralize communications and promote interaction before, during and after an event, so don’t overlook this essential tool for your organizers and guests.
As Marketing and Sales Strategist David Meerman Scott explains, “[In 2018] The event hashtag will move from just a place to share tweets on site to a place where people will interact before, during, and after an event. But it is up to event organizers to push people into that direction by, for example, only posting speaker slide decks via hashtag.”
Tip: A signature color can boost brand recognition by 80%, so start there and work outwards to create a recognizable, eye-catching representation for your event.
Pre-Event Promotion – Building Momentum
With your event branding and hashtag in place, you are ready to get the word out there. Having a complete picture of your event’s goals, audience, and message is key in social media promotion. Think of the three C’s when it comes to social: clear, concise, cohesive.
Next, consider all the resources you have to promote your event:
- Do you have videos of past events or speaker presentations?
- Are you considering any giveaways or games to get people engaged?
- Do you have testimonials, case studies, or interviews related to this or past events that you can share?
All of this is standalone content that you can share, as well as contribute to a blog that showcases your event and its message.
Start getting the conversations going early through social channels. Develop a social presence for your event and invite your guests to connect socially, even those who haven’t yet registered. It can be a great way to get attendees to connect with one another and build buzz and anticipation before your event even starts. Drop updates regularly on speakers and sessions that are of special interest to build excitement.
One of the best ways to build excitement around an event is to encourage your partners, sponsors, speakers and influencers to share your event online. Prepare a promotional package with your event’s branding, individually formatted for each social media platform, and share share share!
Tip: Social media contests are a great way to engage attendees and gain additional exposure for your event. Hashtag contests, sweepstakes, surveys, and tagging contests are just some of the options to elevate your event’s presence on social media.
During the Event
It’s hard to keep up with social media during events. Once an event is underway, chaos reigns. Things go wrong. You’re pulled in many directions at once. So create an at-show plan in advance with room for ad hoc content as the show happens and you’ll more likely be able to keep up with it. Once your event is in full swing, you’ll be thankful to have a designated person(s) in place to engage on social media, who should ideally oversee the following:
- Live-tweeting the key sessions – Tweet the big keynotes and special speakers in particular and make sure someone on your team is live-tweeting the highlights using your event’s hashtag. Keep watch on similar live-tweets from the conference’s influencers and retweet their content frequently. This makes it more likely they’ll do the same for you and expand your reach beyond your own direct network.
- Retweeting the most influential attendees – Sometimes it’s more than just the “known” influencers. At every event, new influencers pop up when unknown attendees get highly active on the hashtag feeds and make a name for themselves. Keep an eye out for these opportunities and take advantage of them in real time.
- Encouraging attendee participation – Contests or giveaways, polls, and mobile social walls are great ways to keep attendees engaged during your event. 33% of attendees take photos during the event, so finding creative ways to encourage the sharing and storytelling of those snaps can go a long way in both promoting your event in real-time, and in boosting attendee participation.
Keep in mind that attendees will appreciate you paying attention to any feedback they offer through their social posts. This can also be a way to measure engagement from your event—attendees posting about your event, event hashtag trending, or event content being shared and retweeted.
After the Event
Social media is one of the best ways to keep the momentum going after your event has ended, so consider all the ways you can engage both attendees and speakers and encourage them to share their photos, videos or stories.
Use this as an opportunity to thank your partners, sponsors, speakers and attendees for their participation by asking questions, posting polls, or sharing your own insights while still utilizing your event hashtag to keep the conversation going.
For more insights on event best practices and practical recommendations, check out The Event Marketing Playbook, Certain’s ultimate guide to to help you improve the performance of your events!