Making the most of event focussed social media
By Miguel Neves, IMEX
Events present us with unique opportunities for face to face networking, sharing and learning. By using social media we have an additional opportunity to engage with an online event community. When event focussed social media is used it can reach varied communities in engaging and far reaching ways that can be beneficial to all participants. In order to help achieve this I am sharing a selection of tips to help event managers and participants make the most of event focused social media.
Preparing for an event
The event community:
If you are active on social media on a professional level, you will probably already communicate regularly with your peers all around the world. If this is not the case then invest a little time in exploring the various communities online, especially those who may be part of the events you are interested in. Joining relevant professional groups on LinkedIn is essential. Facebook groups and pages can also be useful as well as following and interacting with relevant twitter users.
It’s preferable to engage with others on social media as a person and not as an organisation and refraining from pushing marketing and sales content. Engaging in this way with others on social media is incredibly advantageous, much like in person networking, particularly when your approach is open minded and positive. If you’re not sure how to achieve this start by observing how others engage and join in discussions where you have something to add.
Allow yourself sufficient time to foster good interactions and join constructive discussions. If you are using social media to tell the story of your own event share your content such slowly in the time leading up to an event so as to build the story and profile of an event in bite sized chunks. This will be better received than if you create an information overload.
#Hashtag: The best way to connect a community around an event is to agree on one short, simple and memorable hashtag and use it absolutely everywhere. Hashtags connect online conversations around an event.
Visualise: When a hashtag is included in all (online and offline) event marketing it quickly becomes an integral part of an event. It can be very efficient for events to encourage this by creating engaging photo opportunities that include the hashtag. This can be achieved with a branded red carpet style step and repeat board or a physical prop. Event photos are an incredibly powerful and far reaching by-product of social media and when the hashtag is automatically included the photos are instantly associated to the event.
At the event
One picture is worth a thousand words:
Photos and videos tell the story of an event faster and more effectively than any written post. The quality of the photos or videos, or even the source is largely irrelevant. As long as they help tell the story of the event, they can come from anyone at any time, preferably uploaded right away to capture the moment for everyone interested in the event.
Some events have experts or journalists reporting on the event live on social media via twitter or other channels while other events rely on participants to tell the story of the event. As a participant this is sometimes a great way to engage with others who are also there or even those who cannot be in person but feel like they are, with the help of your reports.
Share the work and the fun:
Whether this is your event or not, don't try and do all the social media yourself. Much of the power and enjoyment of social media lies in sharing resources and seeing events from different perspectives, so make sure you encourage and acknowledge their efforts.
With the speed and reach of social media, it’s very important to monitor social media around your own events. If for any reason the posts are negative make sure you reply promptly and where possible make amends quickly. When participating in events monitoring activity on social media can give you excellent opportunities to interact with key people or access opportunities that may otherwise be missed.
The event lives on…
The buzz around an event can be short lived so it’s important to immortalise it online. This can be done via blog posts, photos, videos or using a combination of all of these. Storify is a tool that allows to do this. It works by searching for an event #hashtag or specific accounts across various social media channels and then a creating a compilation document. These compilations can then themselves be shared on social media or in sent to others in the community.
Creating an official video of an event is a great way to keep a record of the event. A dedicated video team is ideal but some of the best event videos seen on social media are pulled together using event photos or smart phone video footage collected from social media. Videos that use other participant’s photos and footage are much more likely to be then shared by these users and therefore reach a larger audience.
Gratitude: Social media is a great way to publically thank and show your appreciation for those who shared in an event experience with you. This is especially important for your own events. You can even offer special rewards or discounts for future events as a way to show your gratitude.
Review: If you've shared an event experience on social media it is crucial to review what worked, what was achieved and how to improve for the next time. For your own events you can use software to analyse hashtags and measure activity on social media channels around an event. Don’t forget to also look at the largely intangible benefits such a brand image or quality of discussions.
I hope you find these tips useful for your future social media event activity. This is by no means a full social media strategy for events but I hope it gives you some good ideas to help you make the most of your event focussed social media activity.