Social media has the potential to dramatically improve your events, whether they are b2c or b2b. Whether you are a host, organizer, sponsor or attendee, you can use social media to help reach your event goals and build your community. While social media is “free” in comparison with traditional advertising, it does take time and skill to get right. Follow these 5 tips to get social media engagement right before, during and after your next event.
1) Preparation = Winning
Knowing how to utilize social networks in the weeks and months before an event is crucial. Whether you're organizing, sponsoring or exhibiting at an event, you can leverage social networks to spark conversations that will build buzz for your event and help you draw a larger and more influential crowds.
2) Engage your online community
Your community of guests and speakers are a rich source of opportunity to help promote your event on social networks. Don’t just rely on your event app or website builder to prompt attendees to tweet and share right after they buy tickets.
Come up with creative and novel ways to engage your guests ahead of time, like offering a behind-the-scenes sneak peek of your event venue, building up excitement for special announcements, soliciting feedback for event happenings through polls, or running event contests to raffle off on-theme experiences or gifts.
3) Enlist guests & speakers to build buzz
Get guests, speakers and talent to promote your event to their networks ahead of time, especially if you’re paying them to appear. Let them vote on sessions and suggest topics. SXSW does an incredible job of empowering would-be participants with their panel pickers.
Make it easy for speakers and talent to build buzz by offering them custom-tailored tweets and social media posts that will appeal specifically to their audiences. Maybe even provide them with an extra ticket to give to one lucky follower or fan.
Of course, attendees need the basics about your event - the who, what, when and where. But more importantly they need to know WHY they should attend, especially for b2b events.
People attend events for different reasons, but every prospective guest need to be convinced to spend their precious time and/or money at your event. One of the most effective and surefire strategies for convincing guests to attend your event is social proof.
These event websites display photos and testimonials from speakers, talent and guests prominently on landing pages.They make it super simple for attendees to tweet, post and share that they’re going to an event, usually right after registering and with a follow-up confirmation email.
4) Hashtags to amplify your on-site engagement
Don't forget hashtags. Tweets with hashtags typically receive 2x higher engagement. Creating a hashtag for your event means that you’ll be able to search and filter posts on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram later.
Your event hashtag will ultimately serve as a key means of interaction for your event, so announce your official event hashtag earlier on, when the event is announced. Your event hashtag should be short and relevant.
Some great examples from #SXSW2015 include #SXSWesteros for the upcoming Game of Thrones season and #FoodPicStrike for a campaign raising awareness of childhood hunger. See our post on Event Marketing Lessons from #SXSW2015 for more examples of great event hashtags.
Whether you're organizing, sponsoring or exhibiting at an event, you can optimize the value of your efforts with even a limited budget. Social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn offer powerful targeting capabilities for reaching your intended audience. On Facebook you can even target RSVPs to similar events.
5) Paid placement to reach and re-engage
Also worth noting that Facebook has restricted brands and fan pages in users’ activity streams to a severe extent. Only 5 or 10% of organic social posts reach a brand or fan page’s audience of Likers. Take advantage of paid ads to get your event in front of your target audience.
For more tips on targeting, check out our post on maximizing your event advertising ROI on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.