If you’ve ever followed a brand on social media before a live event, you’ve had your feed cluttered with incessant updates and promotions. But then, when the event finally comes around, all you receive are constant reminders to attend the keynote, and nothing more about the actual event.
When attending an event, you’re focused on getting to the panels on time and taking notes. But if you decide to stay back, you’re left hoping your business partner will fill you in on what you missed. And if you’re lucky, you might see a photo of the headline speaker on a sponsor’s follow-up blog post.
If you host live branded events, you can see where this is going. Your social media presence is so much more than a promotional tool for live events. If you stop using social media when the event starts, you’re cutting off the conversation far too soon and throwing away a significant community-building opportunity.
Social participation during and after live events is a key factor in engaging customers and establishing a sense of community. Not only does ongoing promotion help you maximize both attendee and remote audience engagement, but you also get more value out of a single event than ever before.
Here are four strategies that can help you encourage social media participation before, during, and after the event:
1. Customize the social media experience at registration
Position your event as social-friendly by deploying social media engagement strategies from the very beginning. Focus on technologies that allow attendees to personalize their experiences and network with others easily.
A great example is the popular event marketing tool InGo, which makes it easy for attendees to pre-populate their conference registration with social network data and invite contacts to attend the event. After attendees register on social media, InGo displays their LinkedIn or Facebook profile pictures in a widget on the event’s home page, which encourages them to repeatedly visit the site to monitor the growing registrant list.
Heineken’s Open’er Music Festival took a similar approach. Attendees were invited to create a unique message and introduce themselves to other festival attendees. The result was more than 5,000 personalized, festival-focused QR codes that earned massive coverage through Facebook and Twitter.
2. Use social media to create long-lasting social and transactional communities
Social media allows events and event communities to live on long after the event has ended. This exponentially increases the ROI and engagement factor of your events. The best way to organize these enduring communities is to use each network for its particular strength.
To help fans get involved in the conversation during the event, create a simple, memorable Twitter hashtag, and post it on mirrors, projection screens, branded items, your badge, or anywhere people will see it.
Make sure all of your participants and conference speakers promote your hashtag, and consider incentivizing the hashtag with giveaway prizes. This will allow attendees to check in on what’s happening at the event in real time and jump on opportunities they otherwise might have missed.
Leveraging Pinterest to highlight your latest event or tradeshow after the fact is also a great tactic. Capture and design visuals that will draw the attention of attendees and the curiosity of those who missed out, such as:
- Key areas of the event location such as famous buildings, politicians, stories, ballparks and stadiums, or teams
- Infographics of key takeaways from each speaker panel
- Special experiences and exhibits at the show
- Testimonials from energized attendees
- Candid interviews with keynote speakers
A wide array of visuals will help you increase engagement and promotion long after the event is over.
3. Prioritize high-quality video for attendees, non-attendees, and future events
Video is an important social asset for every audience, especially Millennials and Gen Zers. Make sure you invest in team members and equipment that can capture special moments at your event such as speaker remarks, unique exhibits, and the social attendee experience.
For example, at my company, we put together a video experience at Exhibitor Live, which featured a performance by William Close, creator of the Earth Harp and finalist on “America’s Got Talent.”
During the event, we took photos of attendees playing the Earth Harp and submitted them to a crowdsourced voting process to choose the best one. This strategy also allowed people who weren’t at the live event to participate in the action, amplifying the experience beyond the tradeshow floor.
4. Be on the lookout for new technologies
Finally, stay up-to-date on new technologies that can help you automate the networking and community-building aspects of your live events. For example, geofencing is a location-based aggregation technology that allows you to target your messages and connect with attendees in a meaningful and surprising way.
With this technology, you can set up physical perimeters that pull social media data based on GPS location into a single feed. Motorola took this integrated approach to Live Nation’s EDM Festivals when it aggregated attendee pictures and videos tagged with #MyMotoX and #MotoKandi in real time. This is an exceptional way to leverage the energy and enthusiasm of festival attendees.
Looking to carry out a highly engaging event that builds your brand and sparks an authentic fan connection? Plan and follow through on social media strategies during and after your event to create long-lasting, brand-boosting community growth.
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