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.
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. That community building and education can continue after the event too.
Here are some ways you can promote your event through social media before, during and after. We’ll discuss how to use social media to: grow excitement about the event and drive attendance at it; promote the event while it’s happening; and continue to get social mileage from the even after it is over.
Note: These ideas will help whether you are attending or exhibiting at an event (such as a tradeshow), hosting an event, or both.
Before the Event
Listening & Analysis
In the months leading up to a trad show or event, get to work with social listening and analysis to identify influencers and advocates in your industry, and track conversation trends and hot topics. Use this information to create optimized blog content before, during and after the event (e.g., sessions not to miss, daily recaps, final reflections, etc.), engage influencers (bloggers, etc.) and participate in relevant online conversations.
If you are short on manpower and hours, this is the one piece of advice that is a must! Hashtags are an easy way of promoting and reaching a larger audience interested in a single subject. Create a hashtag if you are hosting; or if the event you are attending has one, use the existing one on your photos and posts. If you’re creating one, I recommend keeping the hashtag short, unique and (most of all) having some solid mention of your brand.
Make a Social Media Promotion Plan
Choose the social channels you plan on using to promote the event, and assign different levels of importance to each ahead of time. This will help lay out a clear roadmap of where information will be updated first, and what kind of information will be posted on each channel. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Facebook: set up a separate Event page dedicated to all the necessary details for attending. Use the description field for housing all relevant links and introduce the official event hashtag. Post any last-minute changes to the event’s Timeline to update all invited guests. Lastly, be sure to include the event’s logo in the cover photo.
Twitter: Write several Tweets including the location, time, a trackable shortened URL of the official event page and (of course) the official event hashtag. In addition, keep track of the official Twitter handles of notable speakers or guests, and reach out to them (or introduce them, if hosting) on your brand’s Twitter account once their attendance is confirmed.
If you’re hosting the event, you may also want keep track of the Twitter handles of anyone who may be attending and reach out to them once their attendance is confirmed. They could also be a great resource for event content.
Pro tip: if you’re hosting, create a Twitter list of all the attendees as an easy way for other marketers to reach out to influencers.
Instagram: post photos that preview the venue, guest speakers, behind the scenes or anything else that may be visually appealing and self-explanatory. Your Instagram followers shouldn’t have to guess how the photo relates to the event. Include the official event hashtag in the caption and be sure to tag any relevant Instagram accounts in the photo, caption or both.
Pro tip: Instead of cluttering your Instagram caption with 20 different hashtags, use the most important in the caption itself and then use the rest in the first comment space. This makes your content highly searchable without being a headache to read.
LinkedIn: Create a LinkedIn group for the event and invite attendees and influencers to join. Start industry and event related discussions. This not only is an easy way to connect and create relationships with influencers, but it also is an excellent opportunity for social listening. In addition, write several posts including the location, time, a trackable shortened URL of the official event page and (again) the official event hashtag.
Create an Event-Specific Page On Your Website
Let this page serve as home base for all things event-related. Videos you’ve created, articles written about your company and/or other special announcements and live social media feeds. It’s a great place to direct potential booth/event visitors to get all the information they want, and you’ll gain valuable website metrics and potential leads as they sign up for an event or download a PDF/eBook you’re going to offer, right?
During the Event
Live Event Monitoring
During your event, have a team onsite at the show as well as a team monitoring and engaging on social media. Your social team should continue to track and join in on relevant hashtags, influencer conversations and trending topics. By equipping the social team with goals to focus on and empowering them to act decisively, you will keep your thought leaders engaged, own popular hashtags and make valuable connections.
Always take pictures to share! Give people snapshots of what’s happening on the floor (especially at your booth if you have one). Pictures of special events, guest speakers or whatever else is taking place at the show keeps your company in the social stream of consciousness.
Get Video Footage of the Event
Whether it’s a short clip of someone participating in a contest (hello Periscope or Meerkat!), winning a giveaway, giving a presentation or speaking about the event, capturing and sharing moments from the floor gives people a way to experience what’s happening at the show. This opens up the opportunity to connect with people without them being there.
Social Giveaways & Contests
Tie your event’s contest or giveaway in with social media, or create your own social media contest if you aren’t hosting the event. For example, you can have visitors take pictures of themselves with a banner stand that advertises the contest or your company, and they can post the picture to social media as an “entry.” There are countless ways to increase your company’s visibility using this method.
After the show is over, pore over the list of visitors that connected with you at the show so you can connect with them on LinkedIn, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter. Make each interaction personal in order to make a genuine connection, not just add them for the sake of adding them to your CRM database.
You should also send an email to everyone who visited you at the show to share the recap blog post, and include links to all of your social media outposts encouraging them to engage with you there.
Once the event is over, write about your experience. Be sure to keep notes during the event so that it’s easier to remember significant moments afterwards (it makes the writing process go much smoother).
Write about the reasons why you were at the show, a favorite speaker or any other significant moments. Be sure to use the pictures and videos you took. Publish on your blog and then promote that blog post on social media and start the cycle all over again.
After your event, collect and analyze all the engagement data from the show in order to evaluate your success.