Social media and live events fit together like peanut butter and chocolate. With 81% of Americans on social media, event attendees are even more likely to incorporate social into their event experience, making it essential for event marketers who want to create more meaningful connections at their events.
Given the sheer number of social interactions that happen during events, it can be difficult to influence and facilitate the conversation. It can become overwhelming trying to stay on top of social media activity and encourage more people to participate. So how can you integrate social media into your event marketing strategy without spending all your time on it? Below are a few helpful tips.
Use a mobile app
In 2017, 2.32 billion owned smartphones globally, with that number expecting to reach 2.87 billion by 2020. Mobile apps are essential for live events, as attendees no longer want to lug around a printed program or paper map. Mobile devices and conference apps help attendees navigate in-person events using built-in maps, and provide the opportunity to connect with other attendees.
Better yet, most event apps include a private social network that attendees can use to post photos, and like and comment on an event-only activity stream. This can centralize all social activity and reflect the ‘spirit’ of the event. All content posting can be easily skimmed through and moderated for inappropriate content, unlike external social networks.
Create a hashtag for your event
We all remember the Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake skit about hashtags. And while they can be abused, hashtags are a great way to ignite a conversation around your event, for both attendees and those who weren’t able to attend in person. Posting on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn with your event’s hashtag can be a great way to help others experience the event.
If you create a hashtag, make sure to promote them before, during and after the event. You can do that on your event website, speaker slides, event signage, badges, etc. You can even connect social networks to your event app so attendees can easily view all posts with the hashtag. Don’t forget to live-tweet and respond to attendees and answer some of the questions that arise. This gives you another vehicle for communicating with your participants.
Expand your audience
While physical attendees are important, so are those who can’t attend or are watching your livestream. Social media provides you with another avenue to share content from your live event with potential customers who aren't in attendance, boosting the reach of your live event significantly. These efforts can even help extend the shelf life of your event, so to speak, by extending conversations about the event long after it has ended.
Put money behind social efforts
While the above tips help create a significant social media presence, it’s increasingly difficult to reach your audience on social media for free. In 2016, organic reach fell by 42%. However, using paid advertising can help you reach specific and targeted audiences on Facebook and Twitter, by targeting followers of similar events, prominent speakers and company pages.
Facebook’s advertising platform is a relatively affordable way to get your content and messages in front of thousands of highly targeted potential attendees. Alternatively, you can use Twitter to reach your audience by targeting followers, behaviors and interests that align with your event.
Utilize your social data
The best part of all of these digital efforts is that they’re highly trackable and create massive amounts of engagement data, which can help you generate more revenue from your events. New data platforms are available that can help to centralize this data, build segmented audiences and personalize marketing to those attendees in order to promote future events, bring in new customers and improve the overall success of an event.
Your attendees are already participating in social media activities during your event. However, by taking a few important steps, you can engage your audience on social, actively participate in the conversation and spark important discussions in your industry. Put these easy tips to use and you’ll become a social media maven in no time.
Michael Balyasny is currently the Founder and CEO of Attendify, a leading mobile event technology and engagement company with thousands of customers and millions of users. At Attendify, Michael drives the company's strategic direction and mission to bridge the gap between
digital and event marketing. This includes product vision, user experience design, customer development, and partnerships. He is a product- and design-driven serial entrepreneur with more than 10 years of experience.