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Using Social Media to Market Your Event

Social media is an integral part of any business, and this is only more true in the events industry. A live event means that live posting is a possibility, and there are entirely different experiences before and after the show. It is a chance to market to a captive audience once the event is on.

In this blog, we will talk about how to best leverage social media platforms during all stages of the event, including what platforms will work best for different purposes. Whether you’re a social media expert or still learning the basics, hopefully this blog can give you a boost in your event marketing skills!

The Basics

Before getting started, there are a few things that I am assuming in the writing of this blog.

(1) You use a tool for scheduling social media posts across platforms.

(2) You use a social listening platform to keep track of people talking about you on social media.

(3) You have already worked on building loyalty and a follower base, and your social platforms are not brand new.

(4) You have other marketing channels and a team of people generating attendance and sponsorships in other ways.

Before the Event

Leading up to an event is your opportunity to use social media as a tool for generating attendance. If you have presenters, vendors, or exciting side-events, this is the kind of stuff you should be promoting. Utilize popular platforms like Twitter and Facebook to share these big selling points, and don’t forget to include a link to your registration page or to a landing page with more event information. These highlights can be relatively frequent, but you don’t want to overwhelm your followers. This is a great way to highlight the best parts of your event and entice people to learn more. If you want to see how well these posts are performing, you will also want to create shortened, trackable links through a tool like Bit.ly. To make this method work even better, tag the corresponding presenter or vendor so they and their followers can interact with you as well! This works especially well on Twitter and Facebook, both of which also allow easy sharing of posts.

Possible promotional posts:

  • “Don’t miss [presenter] speaking about [topic] at [event]! [link] #Hashtag”
  • “You can’t  afford to miss [presenter] talking about the latest trends in [topic] at [event]! [link] #hashtag”
  • “Do you enjoy [topic]? Make sure you catch [speaker] at [event] on [day]. [link] #hashtag”
  • “Do you need [product/service]? Make sure to visit [vendor]’s booth at [event] on [day]. [link] #hashtag”

You can also make video content to advertise the upcoming event. It’s up to you on how this should be created, whether you make something in-house or hire another company to create something for you. Either way, you can use YouTube to upload and host any video you want to use, which can be shared via other social networks like Twitter and Facebook. YouTube itself has great analytics, and a comments section, so this content can be leveraged as another way to have a conversation with followers.

You also need to make sure that you can easily find out if people are talking about your event. Come up with a unique hashtag for Twitter and Facebook (while Facebook hashtags aren’t as popular as Twitter hashtags, they do function on Facebook!) and encourage its use in  your own posts. This will make it easier to seek out and find people talking about you! Posting the hashtag on social media won’t be enough though; you’re only reaching the people who are already connected to you. Use the event as a way to recruit more social followers! Try to find a place in the event guide or on signage onsite that features your social media handles and the hashtag. This will encourage attendees to start live-posting.

Other pre-event social media notes:

  • People love tickets! If you have physical or print-at-home tickets, expect to see a lot of posts featuring pictures, especially on Twitter and Instagram.
  • If there are any pre-sale, special registration, or early-bird specials, be sure to promote these on social media as a special offer to your loyal followers.
  • Consider running a contest giving away free tickets, or another prize. This can be used to build up buzz around the event by using the word “free” but also can be used to encourage more social media engagement depending on how the contest can be entered.
  • Share behind-the-scenes pictures of setting up the event. This is both interesting to loyal followers, and it gives a more human touch to your brand. The event didn’t spring up magically, someone had to put up the stages, sound systems, and booths! This is a good way to leverage Instagram or Snapchat.
  • When you start posting about an upcoming event is up to you. In general though, you will want to slowly ramp up the number of times you post as the event gets closer.

During the Event

This is your chance to shine on social media, and will require the full attention of you and any other social media staff. The most obvious tactic is to live-post about exciting things happening at the event. Have someone taking pictures and getting quotes, and post these as frequently as possible. People who didn’t show up will start feeling bad that they decided not to come, and people in attendance will have a higher chance of seeing something when they check social media on their phones. Twitter and Facebook will be the best choices for live-posting, as these are the most fast-paced platforms and the ones people are more likely to check during a dull moment.

Ideally, you won’t be the only one posting during your event! If the event is exciting and useful, attendees will be talking about their favorite presentations, free swag, and notable booths. Many of the posts you will see will be quotes and photos/videos. It is essential that you let them know you’re listening, especially if they tag you. However, you should also keep an eye on your hashtag and if anyone is using it while not tagging you. At the very least you should Like all of these posts. If you’re on Twitter, you should Retweet any that are appropriate, and respond to as many as possible. Even if all you say is “Thank you for coming!”, that will go a long way in terms of making that customer feel wanted at the event. Instagram will also be a big player here.

People love anticipation, and countdowns are a great way to build interest. Scheduling posts counting down the actual event, as well as the announcement of keynote speakers are a low-effort and potentially high-reward way to get people thinking about you and coming back for more. Images will be less likely to get lost in the shuffle, so consider making eye-catching graphics to share on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Perhaps the best part of doing social media for an event is that it doesn’t make much of a difference whether you are physically there or not. From your office desk, you can easily interact with people live-posting. The only disadvantage is relying on other people, who may or may not be from the marketing team, to relay back to you what is going on and sending you pictures. On the other hand, running around with a phone in your hand on the event floor can make it difficult to reply to attendees across social platforms. Taking care of social media during an event is a lot easier if there is a team involved, but it is very possible to do yourself if you are comfortable and prepared.

Other social media tactics for during the event:

  • Set up a photo booth to nudge attendees toward posting photos. Plus, everyone loves a photo booth! You can either have attendees use their phones, or have a photographer snapping pictures. If you choose the latter  you can touch attendees again after the event by uploading these photos and letting them tag themselves!
  • Encourage vendors to create a reason for people to post on social media about them and about the event, whether it’s a contest or a photo booth, or something else.

After the Event

After the event is the easy part where you can take a breather, but there is still plenty to be done. Look through any mentions and comments that came in during the event and answer any questions or comments that are still relevant. Over the next couple of days look out for attendees writing posts and articles about what they thought of the event, and thank them for coming.

Possible “thank you” replies:

  • “Thank you for coming!”
  • “We hope you enjoyed your time at _____!”
  • “Thanks! See you next year!”
  • “Thank you for the compliments, we are glad you liked it!”
  • “Thanks! Please let us know if there is anything you would like to see next year.”

While you’re thanking everyone on social media, be sure to share any media articles that were written by news outlets or other blogs. These will help out your reputation and give more validity to your event. These can also fill in the blanks of anything that you write. Speaking of which, you also will want to write a wrap-up blog that talks about all of the great things that happened, and then share that on all of your platforms! Ideally this will be something that attendees will share so that they can show their network how much fun they had! We do this as often as we can here on the Premier Connects blog.

This is also the time to upload any photos that were taken during the event, especially ones by professional photographers that may have taken some time to process and  find their way to you. Sharing these photos on social media will be another way to connect with those who attended, and another chance to hear opinions on how the event went.

The only thing left to do is start promoting next year’s event! Good luck on your social media journey, and I hope that this short guide helped with your questions or concerns.

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