It is a no-brainer when you think about it really. Any event you plan, whether it is a global conference or a small networking mixer, is social by design, right? Hence, it is certain that social media would be key to every aspect of event planning. Yet, strangely enough, for many companies, hosting an event means throwing together a Facebook page to tell people when the event is happening, along with a few tweets or LinkedIn posts. Shouldnt you instead use social to start a nuanced, long-term conversation with your attendees? If you are involved with planning an event, consider these tips for weaving social into your event's fabric, so that the buzz prevails long after the last cheque is cleared.
At the beginning, you would want to decide your mix of social networks to get the word out about the event and connect with prospective attendees. Facebook has the most on offer - most attendees are already on it and are familiar with interacting with brand pages; you can host all sorts of content like photos, videos, surveys and dedicated event pages. Facebook also offers targeted ads that let you pick geographic or demographic segments to boost visibility. Head to LinkedIn if you are organising an industry event - LinkedIn Groups, in particular, where you are likely to find key influencers and potential attendees. Save Twitter for the actual event experience, to leverage the event hashtag, which is vital to marketing your event - it is used to track everything from promotions, campaigns, conversations and highlights. Ensure that the hashtag is unique and short, and include it in invites, tickets, blog posts, traditional advertisements and posters.As you inch closer to the event and significant speakers confirm their presence, start promoting it by including their social accounts (Facebook, Twitter) in the communication announcing your event - this makes the event instantly shareable to your speakers' own social media followers - and remember to include subtle calls to action to register for your event. If ticket sales need a pick-me-up, consider putting an affiliate/ referral program in place that allows influencers to attend your event for free, if they popularise your event on their social channels and drive ticket sales. Giveaways via Twitter contests work well too, but please avoid spamming Twitter. You don't want your event hashtag to end up in power users' Twitter mute lists. During the event, it is a good idea to share live quotes, photos, short videos, or have the team walk around the venue, sharing interesting photos of attendees and conversations happening along the sidelines. Either way, dedicate at least a couple of people to monitor your social feed when the event is on, to track conversations about the event and also to address questions or complaints coming up on the event hashtag. It may be worth grabbing a spare projector and setting up a 'social wall' that displays tweets and posts in real time, encouraging attendees to participate in the conversation.
As the curtain comes down on the event, don't let the buzz dissipate. You can retell the story of the event in your attendees' words with tweets and posts shared, and video snippets of their takeaways from the sessions. This gives people who could not attend a peek into what happened, luring them to be a part of it next time!