Before your event is even announced, you should be planning a social media strategy for promoting your event and engaging attendees before, during and after your event.
Live events have a strong digital presence through mobile event apps and social media content—your attendees experience does not just begin and end on the conference floor. Attendees are planning their experience long before they arrive and reflecting how the event influenced them long after. Make the most of these experiences through meaningful social content.
Here are 12 steps to engage your audience at your next event.
Before your event
1. Have a social media strategy
Before you begin posting, ensure that you have a strategy that fits your full event lifecycle. How often do you plan to post, and when? What channels will you be using, and what type of content will you share to them? What are your calls to action in the lead up to your event? What will you say to recap your event? How are you collecting social analytics? By clearly defining your goals for social media, you’ll be able to stick to a plan of action.
It’s important to remember that the strength of social media relies on it being a two-way street. Your social media strategy should not only focus on what your brand is sharing, but what your attendees are sharing about their event experience.
2. Plan your hashtags
Before you begin marketing your event on social, consider what hashtags you’ll be using and monitoring. Decide on a distinctive event-specific hashtag, and make it short and memorable. Also consider other branded hashtags and industry-related hashtags that your attendees are already using.
3. Promote, promote, promote
As soon as your event is announced, use your social channels to share teaser content, promote new sessions and speakers, and generate buzz before your attendees hit the conference floor. Encourage sharing and engagement using contests, rich media and exclusive content for registered attendees via your website, newsletters and event app.
4. Plan for personalization
Content is king, but only when it’s useful. People are bombarded with hundreds of messages, images, links and hashtags every day—make yours stand out by providing personalized content that is meaningful to them during the event lifecycle. Personalized content is an ideal way to stand out above the crowd.
Before your event, share content that helps attendees plan for their stay in a new city. During the event, use AI recommendation engines to customize session suggestions and content based on their profile, preferences and role or badge type. After your event, send personalized thank you messages to attendees and share follow-up content based on their favorite sessions and speakers.
During your event
5. Make social media part of the live event experience
Promote your social channels and event hashtag within your event app, and place posters around the event campus to encourage sharing. DIY photo booths with event branding and sponsor logos provide easy social media opportunities for active users to share with their network. Tools like Tradable Bits make it easy for event organizers to display social media feeds on screens around the event by pulling in hashtags and keywords.
6. Turn on Activity Stream
Activity Stream is like your event’s private social network within your Eventbase Enterprise Event App. It allows attendees to post photos, messages and content exclusively for other attendees, even if they don’t have a social media account. This makes it the perfect solution for enabling social sharing at private meetings and events, but it can be equally as useful at events for customers, partners or the public. Activity Stream encourages networking and connecting onsite in one easy place, without needing to disperse content to external social channels.
7. Enable social sharing within your event app
For a broad, public social reach, enable social sharing within your Enterprise Event App. By enabling social sharing, attendees are able to sync their social media profiles with their attendee profile to share which session they’re currently attending and what they’re looking forward to. Along with a link to the session, you’ll have the option to generate an automated sharing message, so be sure to include your event hashtag and any session-specific hashtags.
8. Go live
Show your at-home audience what they’re missing with live video content. Social channels like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have the option to provide a live video cast, making it easy to engage audiences who were unable to attend, but may become your most engaged attendees at future events. Other live streaming services like Brightcove and Livestream can add more professional polish to your video and offer advanced features like live audience interactivity.
9. Monitor social channels and hashtags
Even after you’ve selected your event-specific hashtag, be sure to monitor all your brand’s hashtags and potential variations your attendees may use. Use social listening tools to monitor social engagement and receive rich analytics about your attendees’ event experiences.
Social media provides the opportunity for you to have a conversation with your audience, and if you’re not taking advantage of this opportunity, you’re missing out. Ensure that your social media team are monitoring both positive and negative feedback, and providing meaningful responses.
10. Expect the unexpected
The risk—and the beauty—of social marketing is that you can’t really control it. At CES 2018, #CESblackout quickly overtook #CES2018 (the event’s official hashtag) on the day of the power failure. With some marketing prowess, CES had a social media win by immediately engaging with attendees via push notification on their event app, and managing the situation on Twitter with a sense of urgency and humor.
After your event
11. Measure your success
Measuring the success of your social event marketing is crucial to your ongoing understanding of your attendee’s needs, desires and behaviours. Use social analytics tools in conjunction with your event tech stack data to measure your successes, learn from your mistakes and improve upon future events.
Major events like SXSW have relied on social analytics to provide a smooth live experience for attendees. When SXSW noticed that attendees were commenting on social media about session availability, they worked to provide an Event Status solution within their Eventbase-powered SXSW GO app, allowing event planners to note when a session had room available, was filling up quickly, or was full. The new Event Status feature meant attendees could use their personalized recommendations to navigate to a relevant nearby session without waiting in line.
12. Maximize your content long after your event
Event marketing can be truly exhausting, but the work doesn’t end after the booths and chairs are packed away. Capitalize on the content you generated during your live events and tease it out throughout the year, building up to your other events. Remind attendees throughout the year what they experienced, and showcase your event highlights to those who were unable to attend. All of this helps to build a loyal audience that is excited to return again next year.