Social Media: How Best to Use it Before, During and After an Event

calcIf you’re a conference or awards planner, then you’ll already know the nightmare…You have spent all year promoting the event’s brand, tirelessly drawing in new interest, consistently encouraging active participation, maintaining an engaged online community and now it’s finally over. You breathe a sigh of relief only to face that dreadful, jaw-dropping moment when you realise you have to do it all again next year.

Establishing a social media plan that starts on day one and continues until after the event is finished, one that has a jam-packed content plan of post-event resources, is critical to boosting ongoing delegate relationships and most importantly will make your life easier.

Why is Social Media Key to Delegate Relations?

Social media plays a key end-to-end role over the lifecycle of an event and is extremely helpful in engaging the audience’s attention on the day and in securing future interest immediately after.

Using Social Media to Engage Delegates Can Include:

  • Running a hashtag for the event
  • Including separate hashtags for topics and presentations
  • Running polls and instant votes on topics raised
  • Q&As
  • Sponsoring competitions

And lots more. Getting it right turns any fears over filling next year’s conference into excitement for new opportunities to engage with your delegates.

So, where do you start with social media for events?

Create a Community

Use Twitter and Facebook to turn your audience into an active and engaged online community. By using social media right through your event-planning process, including on the day and afterwards, you can generate lasting relationships that will keep people coming back and sharing content. For example, Twitter can be great for sharing sponsor’s slides on the day, and your sponsors will appreciate the extra publicity, helpful when it comes to renewing next year!

If you organise awards, then you will already consider social media to be your best friend. If you aren’t used to creating communities for corporate events however, you may want to consider delegate relations in terms of creating online communities.

It’s best to give one person responsibility for social media management and you may even already have a community manager on your team or someone to take charge for enhancing your event’s outreach.

 Promote an Interactive Audience

Fully interactive events are now the norm with around 70% of event planners using Twitter to promote events and just under 60% using social media right throughout the process.  Carefully chosen hashtags can hugely increase interaction making your event active, lively and memorable. Giving people their say also massively increases the authority of the event and the compelling debate to return next year.

Think Different, Be Different!

Being different and experimental offers something new every time someone attends one of your events and builds your reputation.

If you have never considered experiential marketing during your events, perhaps now is the time to put aside those traditional options and do something crazy. Experiential marketing is about bringing the brand and the audience closer through fun and memorable experiences. Typically, it’s employed in a strategy for grand openings but easily lends itself to events.

Maybe you don’t have the budget to send a man into space like Red Bull’s Stratos jump or like Heineken’s Departure Roulette, which offered free flights to random destinations around the globe and grabbed three million views on YouTube. But there are lessons to be learnt from the experts and big-budget marketing firms. It’s about being daring and letting others see you (or your client) being daring, different and theatrical.

Be Mobile Friendly

Smart event hosts work hard to create a mobile-friendly event, using Twitter hashtags and Facebook posts to drive interaction. It’s particularly great for raising Q&As when someone may not want to stand up and will only then be posting about it later anyway.

People love to cast their votes and have their say on topics so let them vote in live polls. It will be a great icebreaker and generate buzz on the day.

Continue the Debate

Once your event is over, consider taking the major topics or key points raised in the debates and turning them into a post-event debate. You could host a panel debate on Google+ Hangouts with the speakers or event organisers fielding additional questions or counterpoints to the raised themes and discussion points.

Click to get in touchBuilding delegate relationships during and after an event is about maintaining an amazing community of people and rewarding them for being active and engaged participants. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you can encourage active participants who share the value in what you are trying to create.

With the right approach and energy, you can keep communities alive and growing for future events.

For further guidance on how to do social media for events, take a look at the related content below, or why not check out our own social media channels?