This article was written by contributor, Siobhan Scott, Marketing Executive at Simpson Group.
As we find ourselves firmly planted in the digital age, social media is a staple part of everyone’s daily life – whether you’re an event planner or otherwise. Exploring the digital space as an event planner can be a minefield of hashtags and live feeds, so, in today’s article, we’ll be taking you through the crucial pillars of social media success – so you can make sure you cover all angles and reap the rewards of a solid social media strategy.
Create a buzz
In the run-up to any event, creating a buzz on social media can be a hugely effective way of driving engagement and participation ahead of the day. Easier said than done, stirring up excitement around your event requires time and effort – so it’s better you start early for the greatest chance to make an impact. Part and parcel with almost any major event, implementing an effective, branded hashtag into your social media strategy should happen as early as possible. Keep it simple, relevant and branded so that users can easily identify and engage with it – and avoid creating something too complicated, leading to your hashtag dying an untimely death before it has the chance to take off.
To get in front of the right people, use online channels like Facebook, Eventbrite and LinkedIn to drive interactivity and ensure your event is discoverable. Post a daily countdown update in the weeks leading up to your event to add an extra layer of anticipation and get people seeing and using your hashtag ahead of the day.
To reach your event’s full social potential, try and engage with relevant parties on social media to build relationships and put your stamp on the day. Make sure you record the Twitter handles of participants and speakers so that you can tag them in posts. This way, they’ll be more likely to share, retweet and like your posts – which will spread your reach to their own set of followers. An effective idea is to utilise (or create) your website’s speaker page, with a short blurb about each speaker and an image. You can then post the image and a short line about each on your social channels in the run up to the event, tagging the speaker and placing a link to your website in the post. That way, if the speaker shares it, their followers will be directed to your website and you earn yourself some free promotion.
To generate meaningful engagement with attendees, keeping a slot or two open on the schedule for the social space to fill is an effective way to get people sharing and talking about your event. Ask your followers to submit applications to speak for free at your event, and, once you’ve put together a shortlist, put the power in the social sphere by asking people to vote for their favourites. It’s not only a great way to spread reach, but it can ultimately improve brand loyalty – it’s also a useful tool to add to your opt-in mailing list if you ask voters to sign a short form before they can vote!
Spread your reach
The day of the event is critical when it comes to social media, and staying active and spreading your reach is something many event organisers fall down on on the day – which is an easy trap to fall into given the fast-paced, high-pressure nature of events. If you’re managing the event and social channels yourself, try scheduling tweets ahead of the day. If you’ve got a schedule of speakers, then line up tweets to go out 5 minutes before each talk, with a short summary of what’s going to be discussed – and, as always, make sure you tag the speaker!
The preferable scenario would be the ability to live tweet during the event, showing the social space that the event is underway and keeping attendees circulating the buzz throughout the day. Your hashtag should come into full effect here, and you can use it on your marketing materials, presentations and freebies to generate awareness. From branding dump bins with your Twitter handle to placing your hashtag onto giveaway goodie bags, harness the power of social media by promoting your details at every possible place to see the highest return on investment.
Stay social to secure longevity
When the event is over and attendees begin to leave, it can be a quick and slippery slope to social silence – so make sure you take advantage of the buzz by staying active afterwards. Hosting a Facebook Q&A with a prominent speaker can be an invaluable marketing tool to use both immediately and in the years to come, so consider inviting an influencer and asking attendees the questions they’d like answered by them.
In the weeks after the event, it might just be worth introducing the next event’s hashtag to begin building excitement and generate pre-event sales with a special offer to those who attended this time around. Using a similar hashtag structure for each event can help build awareness and keep interested attendees coming back. E.g. #CDMSpring2017, #CDMAutumn2017.
An exceptional social media strategy is at the core of any major event and can drive lasting, meaningful engagement between organisers, attendees, suppliers and the wider media. Ultimately, social media success comes from a consistent effort before, during and after the event to leave a lasting impression – so follow our guide and ensure your event’s social media strategy sets you up for success this year.
Siobhan Scott is Marketing Executive at shop4pop. With over 40 years experience creating and producing full event and retail campaigns for large national clients in a variety of industries, they’ve been able to transfer their expertise from Simpson Group to the new web-to-print website.