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27 May 2016

Events: The Power of Social Media

Launching and running an event is a huge task which requires an immense amount of planning. There is so much to organise in a time frame which seems to always come around faster than another controversial comment from Donald Trump.

No matter how much planning you’ve done, there’s never a guarantee that all the right people will come along, but there are plenty of things you can do to increase the chances.

There’s the obvious (and essential) promotional materials in the form of flyers and posters, which can be very effective if carefully designed, and updating your website with the all important dates and details.

However, although it’s all fine and well getting the information out there, what you really want is to create a buzz around an event before it even starts. You need people to want to come, and to want to bring their colleagues and friends along with them.

Building the ‘Buzz’

In this digital age, social media is absolutely essential when it comes to promoting events; the two are like strawberries and cream - they just go together.

It’s important to realise that social media goes far beyond solely event promotion - a carefully planned social media campaign doesn’t just tell everyone what’s happening, but lets them interact with each other and feel part of something much bigger.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are powerful platforms to create anticipation around any event, all of which think embraced when we were appointed to manage the social media for Offshore Europe 2015.

They allow you to communicate effectively, and in real-time, with those you want to target. Snapchat is closely following suit  and is currently one of the fastest growing social networks. It’s particularly good for providing behind-the-scenes content to followers, helping to create and engage with a strong following.

The beauty of social media is that it doesn’t just start and stop on the day of the event. Rather, you can start building momentum and generate a following months before, and continue to do so months after, with the right content. Developing a content plan pre, during and post-event is vital to make sure you cover everything, not to mention the time-saving aspect of a plan - don’t underestimate the time it takes to write a good post!

Starting a new social media campaign for an event can be a daunting task, so here’s our quick guide to kick-starting yours.

Social Media 101: Best Practice for Events

Pre-event buzz

  • Hashtags are key to connecting people and starting conversations – they make it easy for everyone to follow the social chatter around the event and encourage attendees to interact with one another - don’t send a tweet without one!
  • Upload behind-the-scenes photos and videos – this creates excitement and anticipation amongst your followers
  • Engage with your audience – for example, ask attendees what they’re up to. Retweet, share and like as much as you can, remember it’s a two-way communication
  • Competitions are a fun and effective way of building a following. Make sure it’s easy to enter though - sometimes the simpler, the better

During the show

  • Pictures, pictures and more pictures!
  • Retweet, like and share as much as possible
  • Videos and soundbites of attendees talking about the show are very effective
  • Remember to update your followers with any developments

Post show

  • Drip feed your followers more photos, videos and soundbites
  • Competitions can also be run again after the event
  • Post event blog/article talking about the highlights of the show are also well received

Social issues

Whilst using social media around events has many positives, it’s also important to consider what might happen if something doesn’t go to plan. A closed road, broken air conditioning (or more likely in Aberdeen, broken heating) is enough to almost shut down the entire show. Always have a crisis scenario plan in place before the show so that you can respond quickly and effectively in an emergency situation. Remember to always acknowledge the problem – and then do your best to fix it!

Wash-up session

It’s important to take a step back and review the campaign after the event. Social media is a valuable source of feedback so make sure to look into what people were saying by searching the hashtag and keeping an eye on any mentions. This is key to showing you what worked well, and what didn’t, so that you can adapt your plan for next time.

Social media can really turn a humdrum event into a dazzling success if you do it right. If you’re hosting an event and looking for some social media guidance, get in touch for some advice.