Social media–following in the footsteps of other commonplace event components–is the norm, not the novelty. It is simply a part of our lives and a huge benefit at nearly every event. Social media allows you to collect information and feed back from guests, build hype for the event, and serves as a way for guests to engage with you and each other.
So where to begin?
5 Steps to Effective Event Social Media:
Define your social media goals. Be specific. Are you planning to generate hype on social media prior to the event? Is this a way to gather feedback (comments, concerns)? Give real time updates? Perhaps you just want to get an idea of what your guests liked and didn’t like.
Large conferences, for example, might benefit from a live Twitter feed on screen during sessions for additional commentary and questions for the speakers. Music festivals, fairs and other outdoor activities might fare better with an Instagram hashtag and user engagement via a photo contest.
You have to ask what results you want to get out of your campaign, whether its increasing Twitter followers, sales of a product and so on.
Once you have defined your social media goals, decide which platform(s) are best for carrying out your purpose. Too few/too many platforms can be detrimental to your efforts.
Know the strengths of each platform. Facebook fan pages can serve as a landing page for initial event information announcements while Twitter serves as the live feed. Instagram and Vine are great visual content aggregates and LinkedIn can be the means to establish your event among your target professional audience.
Choose a hashtag that is simple but unique and descriptive. (Ex: For the L.A. County Fair: #lacf or #lafair would do).
BizBash: Tips on picking the best hashtag.
Whichever platforms you use, make sure all guests (and others) can find the appropriate twitter handles, hashtags, usernames, groups etc. in one place — on the event webpage.
Which leads us to…
Signage is key. Attendees need to be reminded that an event hashtag exists in the first place. Plaster your hashtag and other social media usernames on print materials like maps and itineraries, TV screens, banners, merchandise and in gift bags if you are using them. No need to make it obnoxious. Just prevalent enough to garner attention if sought. Write a Facebook post and tweet announcing the official hashtag and let guests go wild.
Inform your speakers, sponsors and vendors of your usage of social media and let them moderate and curate content as well. Speakers can answer questions via a live TweetDeck during a session. Sponsors can offer promotions and other campaigns using the hashtag. Vendors can display the signs prominently and work in a similar fashion.
4. Call to action
Provide attendees with incentives to join in the conversation. Share the best content via your official Twitter handle/Instagram/Facebook page to create a story that captures the spirit of your event. Offer a small prize or a shout-out to the guest with the best tweet, first to post a photo etc.
Take notes on feedback, both negative and positive and respond. Let guests know you are listening to them after their experience. Feedback allows you to improve on future events.
These are just a few basic pointers for getting started on the social media element. There is no set formula for how guests are going to respond, as each event is different from the next. You need to first and foremost understand your audience, how they respond and what social media platforms they will use to share their experience.
What do you think is the best way to use social media?
(and Instagram-ing, Facebook posting, LinkedIn sharing…)