Finding the right audience and marketing to them takes up half the effort of coordinating any live event – but what if you could tap into the social media connections of your attendees and engage a far wider group of people?
Whether your aim is to use social media to spread influence or simply boost next year’s ticket sales, an effective social media strategy can help you achieve it.
In this article, we’ll look at taking measures that will turn your event into a true social media ‘moment’…
Establish your community
The fundamental element of making an event social is to promote an online destination around which a community can grow. Designate a hashtag on each of the platforms on which you’d like to build activity and outline the social handles people should watch for event updates and alerts.
This simple action will connect people inside the room with each other and with those who are following events digitally, but do it ahead of time in order to build expectation about the event – and your community – with a series of posts in the weeks before you go live.
Many events even have additional hashtags to support spinoff campaigns run in conjunction with an event, such as the #PROUDTOBE a midwife and #midwiferymoments that support the Royal College Midwives’ RCM Conference.
In fact, the RCM Conference even has its own app to ensure the digital and physical events are neatly melded together. Last year, the conference app had 1,371 downloads, with 33,686 sessions, 414 photos and 253 messages added to it.
Hire a reporter
Instead of putting out dull press releases and predictable PR-driven tweets, what about hiring a freelance reporter and/or social media expert to cover your event?
If you’re running a conference or show, hire someone to think about what the audience might want to see and read, then find the stories and images that will appeal.
If you don’t have the budget for a full video suite, could you use services like Facebook Live or Periscope to stream live video of your event or its various sessions? This will enable people across the globe to ‘attend’ your event and spread your influence far and wide.
For bigger events, live streams from the various elements that make up the proceedings can be augmented by interviews throughout the day with key people, guests and delegates. It might also be useful to have someone finding choice quotes and clips to post as newsworthy snippets to your social channels alongside live feeds.
Can you devise activity that combines being in the room and social media? Could you offer access to key areas or discounted products and services for a tweet, ‘like’ or update?
Plan for ‘moments’
Can you arrange activity or happenings within your event that attendees are likely to share socially? If you run an awards show, what about a box of fun dressing-up clothes or somewhere for people to pose for photos with animals or funny cut-outs?
The Recruiter Awards 2017 ran a segment called #Andersonawardsface, where participants were encouraged to Tweet their ‘awards face’ in the hope of winning a prize. It also announced shortlists and winners of awards live on social.
Alternatively, if you have a famous guest, how about getting them to do a meet-and-greet session where attendees can have their photo taken alongside them?
Social media wall
Video screens displaying live feeds of social media activity, leader boards or curated sets of updates are a great way to encourage attendees to participate on social media.
In fact, there are businesses that will come to your event and run your social media wall –including moderating content – on your behalf. There’s software designed specifically to pull together key social updates from across a range of platforms for social walls.
If your event includes presentations, encourage your speakers to publicise their role on social media ahead of time. They could even schedule posts to coincide with their talk and do follow-up from the event.
If the speaker wants to take questions, a great way to involve the audience – both in the room and online – is for the speaker to do this live and via social media.
OK, now you’re ready…
Ensuring your event is as lively and popular on social media as it is in the real world relies on your ability to create compelling content. That means posts, updates, images, videos and/or articles that people get excited about and then share.
That shouldn’t be your only goal, however. Yes, you want to create great content, but if you can also empower and encourage other people to create great content around your event, then your social media impact can be greater still.