SOCIAL MEDIA FOR EVENT PROMOTION — PART 2 : How to Use Social Media to Get the Most Out of your Event

I bet after having been served all those tasty benefits of using social media for your event, you got hungry for more.

You’ve missed the first part of our blog series on Social Media for Event Promotion? No worries! Head this way and catch up on Why your event needs a social media marketing strategy”.

Social Media is awesome! We all agree on that. The creation of a social media marketing strategy can, however, smack of despair. This article will provide the perfect recipe for your event’s social media marketing strategy.

From preparation and execution to optimization of your strategy — after reading this post you’ll be ready to have it all done and dusted.

First things first:

BUILDING THE BASE FOR YOUR EVENT’S SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

1.Don’t be stingy with your resources: If you want to do social media, do it right.

What’s the first step? Don’t underestimate the workload. Even though most people are aware of the importance of social media, they often don’t dedicate enough resources to carry out the task.

That is something I’ve seen a lot, not only in the event industry, but really in almost every industry. Businesses think, they’ll do social media on the go. And rather sooner than later, they end up screaming for help.

Depending on the goals you’ll set for your social media strategy, assign adequate resourcesso that reaching the goals is possible. Have a social media manager or even a team and make sure they have at hand the tools and competences they need.

Don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to overdo it either. There’s no need to include all the social networks. Be strategic. Go with as little as necessary and as much as you can handle.

The channels you go for depend on your target audience and on your goals.

2. Establish your goals: Your goals have to be the starting point of your strategy. First, you figure out where you want to get and then you figure out which actions to take to get there.

Take into account that there are four objectives that many event organizers target with their social media marketing strategy:

  1. More sales
  2. More digital visitors/traffic and therefore more event attendees
  3. More personalized customer service
  4. More awareness and reputation

Don’t forget: Lign up your goals with your resources. Your resources can’t handle the four objectives? No problem. Set priorities and don’t try to do it all just for the sake of it.

3.Draw up an action plan: Now that you have set your goals make sure they are measurable. Also assign deadlines and keep working towards them. Put a monitoring tool in place, analyze your data (link to third article of the series/art 5) and keep track of your progress.

Before you can reach your goals, however, you have to create an action plan based on your goals. Create a social media calendar, where you plan ahead what you are going to post on which network. You should know WHY you are posting each single post.

All of your posts should have a specific purpose as for instance: educate, entertain, attract, convince, inspire trust etc.

And the individual networks should have one too. So don’t post the same thing on each channel. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat work great to create expectations and get people excited about your event. Use those channels to show your event from a more personal side. It will help you to create stronger connections to your audience.

Twitter and LinkedIn are great networks to share valuable content with your (potential) attendees and to generate discussions about certain topics you will be covering at your event.

So, you have set your main goal, aligned them with the specific goals you want to achieve with each of the communication channels you’ll use and you have created a social media calendar.

Which posts have you included though? Are you sure the content is engaging and target-oriented?

If those questions discomfit you, keep on reading and we’ll clear the air.

4.Choose clever content: When it comes to which content to share, there are a few general guidelines to consider:

  • Which type of content do followers share the most? Helpful, original and/or fun, entertaining content. Want to multiply the reach of your posts? Make sure your content matches these characteristics.
  • Don’t fall behind! Social media is a very fast paced world. Keep up with its dynamics and update your followers on the most trending news and new developments in the industry. That way, you’ll remain top of mind. Otherwise, they might have forgotten about your event even before you throw open its doors.
  • The emotional component of your social media strategy is just as important as the rational one. Make sure you include them both. Publish personal and educationalcontent and make sure it’s very easy for the audience to apply the information you provide practically.

5.Come up with an heroic event story: This might be the aspect that, if applied well, will set you apart from most of the event organizers: Create a purpose for your event and use it as your ad campaign message.

Nike does it. Apple does it. Dove does it. All the successful brands do it. And you should do it too. They don’t make their ad campaigns about their brands. In most cases, they don’t even talk about their product or service in their ads.

What do they talk about then? The user. Make your potential attendees the Jason Bourne of your event story and show them that your event is their Nicky Parsons and partner in crime (Spoiler alert! Without the dying off though).

Which makeover does your event need to turn into Nicky Parson? Let’s see how the big brands handle it. Apple turns its users into people who change the world by thinking different. Nike empowers women, because #ThisGirlCan. And Dove focuses on the Real Beauty in everyone.

Back to your event: Are you organizing a business conference? What’s its purpose for your attendees? Boosting their career? So, how about turning them into their industry’s shooting stars?

Trying to pull off a seminar? What can your attendees get out of it? The main objective is to acquire better leading skills? Have your story transform them from dreaded bosses into inspirational leaders.

Take away:
1. Define your event’s purpose for your attendees
2. Create your marketing message that turns your attendees into Jason Bourne
3. Have your event be their Nicky Parsons
4. Get your message out there

6 TOP SOCIAL MEDIA EVENT MARKETING TIPS

We have looked into the preparation of your strategy, general guidelines for your content you will promote and the selling of your event with storytelling.

Let’s have a look at the different social media channels and specific marketing tips.

1.Go video! Go viral!

I can’t emphasize enough how important video is. Video works wonders when promoting your event, trying to enhance the experience at your event and when following up on the event. That’s the reason why you should use it before, during and after your event.

  • Video creates expectations and excitement regarding your event
  • Video boosts the engagement of your audience
  • Video is a great way to sum up the highlights of your event

Here are some tips for creating your video:

  • Use your video to highlight the purpose and the event message you have defined. Keep in mind your audience and its needs and make sure the video points out their benefits.
  • See beyond your own YouTube channel. If you took on the efforts of creating the video, don’t lose your touch when promoting it. Challenge accepted? Great! Haul out all your guns and shoot it out through all your channels. Upload it on Vimeo as well. When sharing it on Facebook, upload it as a native video. This will multiply your reach.
  • Don’t forget about your website, event page, newsletter, articles, email campaigns, paid ads etc.

2.Spruce up your images with quotes:

Visual content is great. Visual content spruced up with quotes, comments or tips is even better.

Do you want to announce your speakers in a creative way? Design an image that calls your followers’ attention. Display your speaker and one of his or her quotes that is related to the topic of your event.

Want the cherry on the cake? Sharing these images will get you a much bigger audience. Why? You can expect speakers to share the image in order to promote their speech at your event. So they’ll borrow you their audience to promote your event.

Do you want to give proof of the excellent event experience you offer? Post an image of previous attendees and add a comment from them to the picture. Whether they gave you feedback on your lineup, workshops, venue, accommodation or the connections they were able to create, make the most of it and let your future attendees know that people love your event.

Again: Don’t forget to share them on all of your communication channels including your blog, emails, event pages, etc.

3.Post behind the scene sneak peeks:

Integrate this tip in you Instagram and Snapchat strategy:

Speaking of visual content: Share pictures with your followers they don’t usually get to see. Include your potential attendees in the entire event experience-starting from the planning and organizing through to behind the scenes pictures happing during the event. You will make them feel part of the whole process and create stronger connections with them.

This is a great way to create some excitement before the show. Post pictures presenting the glammed up venue and the area. Stage some places worth visiting while in town like restaurants, cafés, sightseeing spots and cultural attractions.

Are you putting together a goodie bag? Show off its content in a fun way. You could even run a social media contest and prime the winners with a goodie bag. Contests are a fantastic way to create buzz, engagement and enhance your event’s experience virtually.

Also, mistakes happen. Unfortunately, in the event industry there are lots and lots of pitfalls lying in wait for the organizers to slip. There’s good news though: First, there are ways to avoid these event management mistakes.

Secondly, even the best of us make mistakes. It’s human. And people like to interact with human beings. So sharing your misstep with your online community might actually make you and your event more likeable. Give it a shot and see how it goes.

4.Get your game face ready

Let’s come back to the contests for a second. Competitions or little challenges in form of a quiz tend to achieve great results. Find a way to align the contest with your event’s topic. Be entertaining and educational at the same time.

Increase the engagement by having participants show off their skills, expertise and creativity. Be sure to publish clear rules for participation and specific terms and conditions. That way you’ll avoid that your contest gets spammed.

Note: Make one of the conditions for winning the sharing of your event. The more friends people get to like the event, the higher their chances of winning. Ready to go viral?

As you’ll already figure: Yes, setting up interactive campaigns does take a while. It has to bewell planned. It requires creatives like copy and visual content and needs the right technology to pull it off. The benefits are awesome, but make sure you can back it up with enough resources. Otherwise, it might end up in a storybook disaster.

Before you start puzzling your head over ideas for your event contest, I would like to share some of my thoughts with you. Depending on the event type you’re organizing, I’ll give you some inspiration for an interactive campaign:

  1. Congress: Let’s say you organize a congress for entrepreneurs. Run a Facebook quizthat puts your audience’s knowledge about the most famous entrepreneurs — Steve Jobs, Lucy Peng, Mark Zuckerberg, Sofía Vergara etc. — to the test. Back it up with engaging visual content to increase participation and crown the entrepreneur empress or emperor. You can give away a prize or simply have the ranking published on social media and maybe even announced at your congress.
  2. Seminar: Imagine you are organizing a seminar on “Innovation in Organizations”. It’s all about change in organizations, startup does and don’ts, etc. Run a contest in which the participants have to present their innovative idea on one single image. The winner will be voted by the online community. Make sure you present the five best ideas at the event.
  3. Trade Show: Run a photo contest to promote your trade show. Ask people to take pictures related to your trade show and to post them with the hashtag you defined. The picture with the most likes, shares and comments wins. Make sure you have a shiny prize ready to be conquered.

5.Measure, measure, measure:

Just saying it once wouldn’t be enough. Keeping track of your social media results is fundamental. Now, most people do set up a social monitoring tool. They, however, never really use the information and data their social actions generate.

They don’t even imagine which golden opportunity they are throwing away. And because we want you to go after fame and fortune, we are going to dedicate our next and last part of our blog series Social Media for Event Promotion to this topic. Stay tuned and learn how to make the most out of your event with social media analytics (link to the third part of the blog series/art 5).

Special tip for best practice:

Even though this post is already really long (sorry for that, I got a little excited about it), there’s something I want to add:

If you are out of ideas or you feel so overwhelmed by all the information you just absorbed, here comes help.

Follow these event profs and influencers for inspiration. They definitely know what they are doing on social media.

  • Instagram: Liese Gardner shares her inspirations about marketing, design and eventprofs.
  • Twitter: Liz King has a huge following. Thousands of followers can’t be wrong about wanting her posts to appear in their newsfeeds. She shares great, engaging posts about event planning.
  • Facebook: Tough Mudder is an event company with over 4 million followers. They know how to promote their events with Facebook. Each event has its own event page and entire armies of event promoters.
  • LinkedIn: Becki Cross expresses her passion for events and technology through digital marketing.

CONCLUSION

Social media created a whole universe of benefits for your event and we’ve just come back from an expedition of social media’s Milky Way.

There are still so many things to explore out there that will shape the future of event experience. For now, the most important takeaway is:

Approach social media with a strategy and you’ll skyrocket your event. Without the right linchpin, your social media mission will end up like Apollo 13.

Home in on the target of optimizing your social media strategy with analytics. Stay connected and don’t miss part 3 of our Social Media for Event Promotion (link to the 3 post of the series/art 5) blog series.

Sarah Fichtinger ­ — Digital Marketing strategist

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