Social media is invaluable when it comes to driving conversations and awareness around your event. It can also help you keep tabs on sentiment, what’s resonating with attendees, and provide a unique way to engage in real time. But creating an event experience is no easy feat. We recently hosted our annual marketing event, Marketing Nation Summit, and I thought I’d share five key takeaways and best practices I learned from planning and running the social media for the event.
1. Create a Solid Social Media Strategy
First, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the business priorities for the event. From there, you can coordinate within your organization to ensure your strategy aligns with those priorities. Here are a few key things to consider:
- Create a calendar. This should be a timeline that outlines all promotions and announcements happening during the event so you’re clear on when to start promotions.
- Outline which social channels you’ll use. Think about the who, what, when, and where you’ll be during the event. Some channel features will lend to different occasions at your event. For example, creating an Instagram Story throughout the day will showcase visual highlights, while posts on Twitter will highlight quotes or learnings from guest speakers. Have a thorough understanding of your audience’s preferences and then plan on posting to the social channels they utilize and prefer.
- Know the message. Announcing a new product? Be sure you have the updated product messaging so you’re in alignment with the public announcement.
Have a plan for giving some social love to all your audiences.
- Incorporate a way to highlight champions and advocates that are attending the event. They are your advocates all year round and events provide a way for you to show gratitude for all they do throughout the year!
- Keep a pulse on press and analyst content so you can promote whatever positive publications they’re producing, and if not positive, can alert your PR team.
- Coordinate social coverage of speakers and influencers to ensure you have ample coverage of breakout sessions and live interviews. Do you plan to have team members staffing the breakout sessions? Ask them to capture a few tweetable takeaways and pics for you.
- Ensure your sponsors feel the love. Take time to highlight your event sponsors. Without them, there wouldn’t even be an event.
- Be clear on legal requirements. This is especially important for speakers, specifically keynote speakers. Most celebrities will have parameters around what can and can’t be covered on social media in their contracts. In order to avoid any breaches, have a clear understanding of what you can post.
2. Create An Officially Branded Hashtag
Have a branded hashtag—make it simple, and make it memorable. You want to create social buzz around your event, so make it as easy as possible for attendees to know (and therefore, use) your event hashtag. A couple of ways to promote your hashtag?
- Use the event hashtag across all of your social accounts leading up to your event.
- Include your hashtag when posting anything during the event.
- Ensure it’s in all your communications and visual content including your event website, promotional emails, print materials, etc.
- Make it visible to participants throughout the conference by including it on all presenter PowerPoint templates, social feeds, visual branding, handouts, etc.
Marketo’s branded hashtag trending on Twitter
3. Make Social Part of The Conversation
Build out a social engagement experience that invites attendees to share their experiences via their personal social channels. A few easy ways to make social an integral part of your event?
- Include a social feed that displays on the presentation screens in breakout session rooms. Seeing what other people are talking about invites attendees to join in on the social and share their own point of view.
Example of live social feed next to keynote stage
- Build a “Social Hub” area that showcases conversations, leaderboards, pictures, and demographics of attendee social posts. It’s a great way to visually tell your story throughout the event.
Marketo’s social hub became a gathering spot and highlighted social activity
- Live tweet as much as possible. Most events host several sessions at the same time, so attendees are unable to catch every session they wanted to. Live tweeting provides a way for attendees (and non-attendees) to still get a few top-level takeaways. Create a calendar that outlines breakout sessions, speakers, and topics so you know where you need to be to get the most bang for your buck.
- Reply to and engage with your attendees. It’s important for the brand hosting the event to acknowledge its attendees through liking, replying, and sharing. Acknowledgment not only shows appreciation for the individual contributions, it encourages others to engage.
- Monitor your social feeds to ensure you’re able to answer any questions (or direct their question to the right person) attendees may have.
4. Have A Plan For Negative Feedback
Everyone hopes their event will go off without a hitch, but if that’s not the case, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place for complaints. A few things to think about:
- When addressing complaints on social, it’s always best to acknowledge and thank whoever brought the issue to your attention. Then, inform them that you’ll address the issue quickly. If you’re unable to get it resolved immediately, keep them updated on your progress.
- Have an on-site support team you can call on if it’s an issue that needs to be handled in-person.
- Take the time to address each complaint individually. They took the time to air their grievance, you can take the time let them know you heard it and will do whatever you can to resolve it.
5. Tell Your Brand Story Visually.
Events can be a great place to highlight visual content, so you’ll want to incorporate a strategy that includes capturing visual content as well as written content. Here’s are some fun ways to engage visually:
- Give your followers a behind-the-scenes look by sharing backstage pics and video. This is a great way to show them something they wouldn’t otherwise see.
- Create quotation templates that capture speaker quotes. This can be challenging to create on the fly, but people engage at much higher rates with visually compelling posts than they do with simple text quotes.
- Plan on livestreaming. Events provide the perfect venue for you to interview subject matter experts, influencers, customers, and partners. With everyone in one place, you have a unique opportunity to create face to face, real-time content. All you have to do is sit down and hit the “Go Live” button.
Marketo & LinkedIn Livestream at the show
- Utilize the different social platforms to highlight your event in several ways. Create Stories on Instagram and Snapchat, an album on Facebook, or a Moment on Twitter. Create unique Snapchat geofilters to highlight your event. Use unique apps like Boomerang and Layout to create fun collages and gifs.
Snapchat geofilters that ran during Marketing Nation Summit
Ultimately social is a huge part of how people experience the world today, and it’s no different for your event. Even more importantly, sharing your event socially invites people who weren’t able to attend in, and gives them a glimpse of the learning, excitement, and story you are trying to build. Do you have any event social media best practices to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.