Social media is the means to the end of broadcasting the most exclusive and exciting aspects of your life. Curating those highly-coveted and picture-perfect events are what we are in the business of doing. Social media can help you take your event to the next level – for your customers and attendees alike.
Social media is the newest way to see and be seen. If you’re at an exciting event, you want everyone to know you are. If you aren’t there, then you’re living vicariously through everyone who is.
So, how do you take your next event from amazing in real-time to equally as amazing online?
The first step - Build social media hype leading up to the event.
You want attendees to count down the days until the event, and for those who aren’t familiar to wish they were going. The point here is to create brand awareness. If enough people are posting with the same hashtag, the hype surrounding the event and your brand will grow rapidly.
Start by creating an event hashtag. My advice for this would be to keep it to the point and easy to spell. If your event has a recognizable title, use that! If not, create a catchy phrase that also reflects on the event. A great rule of thumb is using #YourEvent2019.
Instagram and Twitter have a great feature that allows you to search for photos and videos under a specific hashtag. Additionally, if someone makes a post using that hashtag, their followers who are not familiar can click on that hashtag. Searching #Event2019 or clicking on the hashtag immediately brings you to the many photos and videos of your fantastic event.
Once you have a great event hashtag, you need to create media posts that highlight what attendees can look forward to experiencing, seeing, and participating in.
Anything from event or exhibit teaser, to celebrity attendees talking about how excited they are for the event is excellent content.
An avenue you can explore is to hire a social media influencer - whether that be a celebrity attendee or a company employee – to post leading up to and during the event. Tying a face to the event is an excellent way for attendees to interact with the event before it even starts.
Have the influencer, through the event’s account, allow for Instagram questions. This way, they can answer the questions with a fun video response, and have it tied to your Instagram account.
*For those not familiar with Instagram Questions, it is an add-on to your story post. Your followers can respond with a question that goes right to your DM’s. The icon to add the questions option is in the top right of the screen when you add a story, and this is what the question feature looks like.
The icon to add the questions
The questions icon
Utilizing Instagram "highlights" is a great way to keep those Q&A's on your account long after the 24-hour mark. If you aren't familiar, here is an excellent article on what they are and how to use them to your advantage: here.
Another great strategy is to have the influencer hold a Facebook or Instagram live session to interact with attendees real-time before the event even starts. Show the behind-the-scenes planning, the set-up of the event, or even just the influencer being there to answer questions in real-time.
*Pro-tip, unless manually turned off by the specific user, Instagram and Facebook notify your followers when you are going live! This is a great way to remind your attendees and followers of your event even if they cannot participate in the live feed.
The caveat to social media before the event is the risk of over-advertising your event.
You want people to be reminded of your event enough to be excited, but not so much that they're eager to stop hearing about it.
I would recommend posting once every week leading up to the event, and then once every day starting a week before your event. The exception to this is Instagram stories, which you can post as many as you like as long as they contain new information.
When your event is finally here, you want to incentivize people to post at and about the event.
When asking yourself how to do that, remember that social media is vain in nature. Of course, social media masquerades as a means to keep in touch with friends and family. However, rarely is something posted online without thinking about the number of likes, comments, and reshares it will get.
The best way to get attendees to interact with your event on social media is to create a fantastic event they will want to share. Luckily, that is what we are in the business of doing! However, there are still a few tips and tricks to mastering your event’s social media.
Create a social media mood board at your event.
A social media mood board is a large LED screen that shows real-time posts that use your event hashtag or tag your event location.
Seeing your post show up on this board is a great way to encourage users to continue posting more event updates, as well as about how cool the mood board is. Everyone will love the opportunity to seem like a game player at your event.
Twitter is especially great for mood boards because posts are kept short, sweet, and to the point, which encourages quick and frequent posting. Instagram is also a great option when you want to highlight the photos posted at your event.
Here is the social media mood board at Cisco Live 2019.
I took this photo during the hustle and bustle of a day in the life
as a #tradeshowprof so I apologize for the quality.
Engagement during the event is crucial.
Just like having someone run your account to build excitement before the event, you should designate someone to run your social media page during the event. If your event is large enough, you can also consider hiring outside influencers to document the highlights of the event and engage with attendees.
Hosting Facebook and Instagram lives during the event is an excellent way for those who were not able to attend your event to feel connected.
For those who are at the event, the best way to interact with them is through what they post. The easiest and best way to keep track of posts during and about your event is to follow relevant locations and hashtags. As mentioned earlier, you can search for posts by location and hashtag, which makes interacting with posts about your event simple.
If you decide to incentivize further attendees posting on social media, you can offer prizes to those whose posts get the most engagement. Tracking the winner is made easy by Instagram's feature of sorting these tagged posts by either most popular or by most recent.
Liking and commenting on posts with your event location/event tagged is a great way to interact with attendees.
Another great feature, on Instagram, is that if someone makes a post and tags your account, you can repost it on your story with a caption.
Again, everyone loves to see how they are engaging with the moment makers. The rule of thumb is that if you show kindness and excitement towards another account, they are likely to return the favor.
A social media frame Is another great way to encourage attendees to take photos at the event and post them.
Everyone is looking for a photo-op, and what cuter way than using a designated space and prop!
I suggest placing the cutout on an easel in a spot with good lighting and a cute backdrop. The backdrop could be the hustle and bustle of your event or an actual backdrop. People want to emulate their best life on social media. If there is a backdrop at the event that resembles something exclusive and exciting, attendees will be inclined to take photos there and post them with the relevant event hashtags.
Here is an excellent cutout you can order for your next event: here.
By setting up designated technology stations, equipped with a place to rest and recharge (yourself and your technology!) you are encouraging attendees to keep posting and engaging on social media.
This way, the engagement never has to pause due to a low battery.
What to do after your event has come to an end?
First and foremost, thank your attendees and other key players for another great year.
You can also encourage people to follow up with the event by once again utilizing the Instagram questions option. Ask attendees what their favorite part of the event was and what they are most looking forward to for next year. Repost the best answers on your story and save them to your story highlights. This way, attendees will always have somewhere to go back to and remember how amazing your event was and to look forward to the next one.