In this day and age, there is no doubt that social media directly ties into event marketing. A vast majority of attendees access social media sites regularly during an event. For this reason, it is important that event marketers harness the potential of social media to reach their target audiences by utilizing carefully curated content through these channels.
Stages of a social media engagement strategy
Creating a stellar social media engagement strategy can essentially determine how you do in terms of attendance. As you get closer to the event, your social media strategy needs to adapt to the need of the hour. In this section, we discuss the phases of the social media strategy and what it needs to cover to be successful.
1. Establishing goals
A social media strategy requires a lot of planning. Different audiences use social media differently. Therefore, using the right type of social media strategy to reach your target audience is the what needs to be in focus.
The first thing that needs to be done when coming up with a social media strategy is to set realistic objectives. Whether you want people to tweet about your product, or get people talking about your sessions, everything needs to be thought about carefully. Every aspect of realistic goal setting ties down to how much reach you think the event needs. Jot down a set of clear, attainable objectives that you want your social media strategy to achieve.
The first step in coming up with any strategy is to do a considerable amount of research. Research gives you the base to formulate an effective market strategy. The best point of reference to start event research is your previous event. Note down all of the relevant insights you have gathered and evaluate the extent of implementing them.
- Go back to your previous events and look at the strategies you implemented. Find out what has changed between now and your last event.
- Analyze your target audience and gather information on the kind of content they are looking for. Create a clear, concise attendee persona.
- Research and determine the social media channel mix.
3. Initiation (Two months away from the event)
The second phase is very crucial to start strong. When you initiate marketing your event on social media, it is important that you map each content asset according to what attendees are looking for at that particular point in time. Make sure your messages are concise and in line with your branding.
The aim of this stage is to start on a high and gain momentum as you go. Post as much fresh content as possible. Get customers to read and engage with your content and give them a call-to-action to follow-up on. You should also use this phase to make key announcements like early-bird tickets, registration deadlines, etc. Build a sense of intrigue so that you get attendees to talk/tweet about your event. The more buzz you manage to generate around your event, the better.
- Start with a teaser campaign. YouTube is an excellent platform.
- Announce and advertise your event with a landing page. Make sure you add the social share buttons on the landing page.
- Create a Facebook page and an official Twitter account.
- Promote your registration page on your Facebook wall and through your Twitter account.
- Post photos of the teaser material or posters on Instagram. Use the relevant hashtags.
- Start tweeting promotional material and use the event’s hashtag.
- Give attendees information that they can look forward to at the event.
4. Vital information (two weeks out)
You are now a fortnight away from your event. This also means you have a rough idea of the number of attendees you can expect at your event. Now that a majority of your attendance have registered, give them information that is vital to attending the event. For example, provide them with a map of the venue so that they do not get lost. Or give them a detailed agenda so that they are able to plan their day out properly.
Another important thing that needs to be done is to get your speakers to promote your event through their profiles. Often, this method proves very useful because speakers will be able to help you reach out to your target audiences easily.
- Announce speakers and sessions on your Facebook wall, Twitter and Instagram. Tag them if necessary.
- Follow-up with a reveal on YouTube. Start paid ads soon after.
- Create last minute reminders and requests.
- Give attendees a detailed floor map and other vital information.
- Send out updates in the event plan.
5. The day of
All your strategizing boils down to this. There is going to be a hurricane of activity on social media while the event is in progress. Before sessions start, ensure you remind attendees to tag you and use your hashtag to get your event trending. Use a media wall to display social media engagement.
Attendees are going to be readily checking-in, tweeting, going live, commenting and interacting with each other while the event is going on. For this reason, there has to be a person or a team handling the social media side of things. You need to make sure that the person handling it responds to posts, comments or tweets as and when they come up. Attendees are also going to bring up issues and complaints through these channels, so it is important that they are attended to quickly.
- Direct-tweet attendees to drive traffic to important sessions.
- Use Facebook and Instagram. Post videos periodically and tag the relevant speakers if necessary.
- Display your event’s hashtag on media walls to get more and more attendees to use them while tweeting or posting online.
Once the event draws to a close, get your team together and reply to every tweet or comment about the event. The replies do not have to be elaborate. A simple reply tells attendees that you care enough to take the effort to reply to them.
The engagement side of the social media strategy is done. All that is left is to gather all of the metrics and insightful information that you have learned from the experience. Perform a post-mortem of everything that worked and everything that did not. Find out the reasons behind the success or failure of these aspects. Once you have collected this information, use it in your debrief to let your social media team.
Creating an effective social media strategy is a tremendously taxing procedure. Going the extra mile can ensure that your event gets that extra boost it needs to be a stellar success. Whenever possible, Take the time to check-in with your event’s social media team and ensure that everything is going according to plan.
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