By Mike Stiles on Jul 30, 2013
When we think social marketing, we often think first of campaigns to drive awareness or product via posts and tweets. But for many brands, event marketing is a consistent part of the mix. 84% of event organizers use Facebook to promote events, 61% use Twitter, and 42% use YouTube. 78% of event marketers plan to increase their use of social. Which is good, because to max out those opportunities, we must understand social for events has a unique importance, usage and strategy.
Before the Event
Figure out whom you want there. Get clear on which social channels they use to get most of their info.
Lock up that hashtag you want. Make it specific to the event, using it consistently before, during, and after. Don’t dilute it or confuse people by adding 3 or 4 additional hashtags.
Pre-event, use that hashtag to answer questions about registering, hotels, attire, nearby eating places, whatever. Include it on every invite, flyer, website, etc. you use.
What gets you to a movie? The trailer. Make a video or other content that makes your event seem like the not-to-be-missed industry event of the year. Make your presenters look like rock stars.
Set up a social contest where people can win a free pass to the event. If nothing else, it points out to them that they really do want to attend. But make it SUPER simple.
Create your event page on Facebook (and everywhere else it makes sense). There are a lot of tools and benefits to doing so, and you’ll want to start building the community of interested attendees long before the event. Tip: People love to see who else is going.
Let’s face it, some people are more active and influential on social than others. Find your field’s big influencers, get them to the event at no cost, and expect them to help get the social buzz going in exchange.
Get registrants invested. Let them have real world input via social on various aspects of the event as it’s being planned.
Take a minute to stop thinking about what you need. Think about how attendees will want to use social at the event and make sure you meet or exceed expectations.
Check the wi-fi at the venue. No, seriously. You’d be shocked how many tech events ironically feature slow or spotty Internet connections. It will destroy your social efforts.
Figure out what social metrics you’ll want to measure. If you don’t do that in advance, it will be easy to get lost in the weeds of all the data available.
Make sharing as easy as humanly possible, from the invite, from the registration page, from informational follow-up emails, from everywhere. If you can incentivize sharing, so much the better.
Plan out who’s responsible for what on social during the event. You don’t want to hear, “I thought you were going to tweet that session” or “Oh…I was supposed to get pictures?” Also think about contingency plans that might be needed.
At the Event
You can’t post, display, or say the event hashtag or handle enough. You just can’t, so please go ahead and try.
People come to industry events to network. One of the better ideas I’ve heard is to put attendee Twitter handles on their name tags. And while we’re on the subject, attendees shouldn’t have to look up presenter Twitter handles. It should be on all slides, not just one. Don’t assume photographic memories.
Live stream if you can. When that Felix guy jumped from the edge of space, there were over 8 million simultaneous live streams. So yes, people will watch if you give them something worth watching.
Don’t vanish on social once the event starts. Keep using social properties for on-site customer service, support and info. People tend to have more questions at events than before them.
Whether it’s Twitter walls, taking questions from Facebook, or reading tweets from the stage, let those following on social know they’re being seen and heard. That usually results in even more social activity.
Be as multimedia as you can. Cover your event like it was Comic-Con or CES.
Now it’s time to leverage all the great stuff that came out of your event. The videos, the photos, decks, all of that is prime content for your social channels.
What you saw and heard should also give you material for several post-event blog posts. I personally like to take stock of which takeaways got the most retweets and do a “hot retweets” blog.
Gather your social lessons learned. What went right? What went wrong? Were there complaints? Were there missed opportunities? What did the social metrics you watched show? And don’t forget to act on what you learn. Amazingly, 95% of organizations collect customer feedback, but only 30% ever actually do anything with that data.
Follow those social event marketing guidelines and your event will be such a smash, half the marketing for next year’s event will already be done.