How to Use Social Media During Events

How to Use Social Media During EventsThere are many articles on how to build buzz on social media before your event, so let’s focus on something different and learn about what you can do with social media during the event. Whether you are hosting a conference, fundraiser or a tweetup, check out these experience-verified tips:

1. Decide which networks you want to promote and monitor

Even though you may have a presence on many different social networks, some channels are a better fit for events than others. While it is advisable to update all your social media networks with your event information, it’s best to pick one channel per community manager during your event. If you only have one person to service your social media, you should just choose one network to focus on. The most utilized during the events is Twitter due to its public, real-time nature and users’ hashtag adoption. If you decide to utilize Twitter at your event, consider asking for participants’ Twitter handles during registration. Instagram use at events is also on the rise and we can expect more events to make use of live-streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat.

2. Make sure your hashtag is everywhere

In your event planning phase, you hopefully decided on one, unique hashtag that would be short, easy to pronounce and spell and give event participants a better idea about the topic of the conversation. To make sure your hashtag is unique, search the platform you will be monitoring during your event for the hashtag you intend to use. Once your hashtag is set, make it a part of all your digital and offline marketing materials (email, website, conference app, brochures etc.). Remember to promote your hashtag at the event venue on highly visible spots (on screen before the presentations, in the program, on the flyers etc.).

3. Designate people and their roles

As mentioned in #1, you want to have a dedicated person to monitor and fuel the conversation on social media. You should also have a second person to feed the community manager with pictures, videos etc. Ideally, people handling your social media are present at the event. It is quite common to have a person managing the engagements not to be at the event, but those who are on site will always do a better job than those who can’t get the first-hand experience of the event.

4. Prepare some content before the event and schedule it

Don’t automate too much content, especially on the platforms that you will utilize heavily during your event. However, since your social media staff will be swamped with real-time updates during the event, it’s good to schedule key information in advance.

5. Tell people what you want them to do

Incorporate engaging reminders on-site, such as: “Got a question? Tweet your questions for our panel with #yourhashtag”. Announce the hashtag and your network handle (username) throughout the event and display it on screen before each presenter. Some people are hesitant to use mobile devices during presentations out of respect for the speaker and other attendees, so ask the speakers to invite participants to tweet, check-in etc.

6. Incentivize

Depending on the nature of your event, pick an incentive that your participants would be responsive to. If it’s a fundraising event, get a sponsor to match the social media mentions with donations for your cause. For tech conferences, you can appeal to participants with cool gadgets. To keep it simple, every hashtag mention can serve as an entry to a random drawing (remember people like simple on social!).

7. Make them feel important

It’s in human nature to enjoy public recognition. Set up large screens on site and display interactions in real-time. Use one projector or TV per channel – if you are engaging users on different platforms, you can set up multiple screens.  Use one these free management tools to display all interactions in real-time.

8.  Create engaging and exclusive content

Event attendees love sharing quotes, key takeaways, behind-the-scenes and real-time pictures and videos, so make sure you get as many of those as possible and put those up as soon as possible. Timeliness is key.  You can also attract participants with exclusive presentations, e-books or whitepapers. Speakers can ask interested attendees to tweet (or otherwise engage) with a certain phrase and a hashtag to obtain a link for a free download.

9. Encourage after-event engagement

Keep the momentum going even after the event is over. Post pictures of attendees and encourage the users to tag themselves. Ask users to submit their comments, pictures and videos. Share video testimonials and ask for attendees’ input on what they would like to see at next year’s event.

10. Choose the right community manager

I saved the most important for last. Having the right person managing your event’s engagement is essential because this person becomes a voice of your event. One’s personality projects in one’s writing and social interactions, so if you have never worked with this person before (or agency), ask them to come up with a few examples of posts so you can see if their voice is a good fit for your event. The qualities you should pay attention to are good writing skills, attention to detail, and outgoing personality.  A word of warning – don’t have interns or people without social media experience manage your presence. There are many companies that became famous for their social media fails – you don’t want that to happen to you.

Bonus tip: To figure out the total number of times your hashtag has been used on Twitter or Instagram, use this free tool.

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