5 Ways To Leverage Social Media At Your Event

By on March 6, 2015

Business events don’t just have a face-to-face networking component anymore. With social media, organizations can make a big impact on attendance and networking, both before and after the event.

According to a “viral impact study” sponsored by the Event Marketing Institute:

  • 98 percent of those attending an event recommend products to others after a positive experience.
  • 93 percent say it’s acceptable for the sponsor to send coupons, email and advertising.
  • 92 percent will offer feedback at events if it’s tied to an incentive.

The study concludes: “If you can put on an attention-grabbing event that leaves participants feeling good, they will more than likely talk up your product or brand to many others.”

When corporations leverage social media to promote an event, the ability to “talk up your product or brand” is magnified a thousandfold or more. Attendees are naturally inclined to share a positive event experience with others in their social media network — which generates broader brand awareness and the potential for more participants (and customers) down the road.

Here are five ways to leverage social media at your next business event:

1. Offer incentives to attend.

Gamify the event experience with a fun, competitive social media contest, which can generate buzz about an event. Offer a free event pass or an event-branded item to garner interest. Encourage attendees to tweet about the event or individual sessions and pick a winner from a drawing of contest participants. Or strive for more “likes” by offering a prize to event attendees who follow your organization on Facebook. Instilling a little friendly competition will get people excited before and during the event, and even allow you to stay connected and build a relationship following the event.

2. Use hashtags.

Encourage attendees to tweet about their experience at the event and post pictures on social media by creating a shared experience with “personal event hashtags.” Custom hashtags connect the attendees while tracking these tweets and posts. Also consider creating hashtags around individual sessions, sponsors, keynote speakers and other prominent individuals attending the event.

Think about how to give your social media activities a physical presence during the event. Once you’ve got everything in place, says Alon Alroy, founder of the networking platform Bizzabo, “Promote the hashtag by having it everywhere — your event website, marketing materials, advertisements, dedicated emails, the event’s mobile app, social networks, newsletters and every other channel used to reach attendees.”

3. Share photos and video of the event.

Be sure to capture plenty of photos and video during the event and post them to your organization’s social media pages. Followers will hunt those sites looking to tag pictures of themselves and their friends — which increases buzz and interest in the event. Videos posted on sites like YouTube and Vimeo can garner even broader exposure and encourage your audience to engage.

4. Interview speakers and presenters for unique content.

The experts you’ve invited to speak at the event want to leverage social media as much as you do. Conduct interviews with these individuals to create event-related content that you can feature in your company blogs and podcasts, as well as social media with links back to the event page on your company site. Encourage the speakers to share this content with their own networks as well.

Be sure to always include event details, hashtags and contact information at the end of your blogs and podcasts.

5. Keep the conversation going.

Remember, social media is interactive. If you’re successful in your efforts to get people talking online, be prepared to respond immediately to inquiries and comments on social media sites and keep the conversation going. Tease followers about upcoming sessions or maybe a “surprise guest speaker.”

“Responding frequently [on social media] is as important as audience engagement and customer services,” notes marketing strategist Susan Peimer. “If you are active around the issues in the social world, more attendees will come to you, producing loyal customers.”

Bonus tip:

Keep the excitement going after the event concludes. Share highlights from different sessions, social media contest results, photos and videos of attendees having a great time, and so on. These ongoing efforts will help build a community of followers eager to learn about your next exciting event.

About Claire Prendergast

Claire Prendergast is the Director of Marketing Communications at agencyEA (agencyea.com), a brand experience agency in Chicago. She uses her public relations experience to focus her vision for the company’s brand and voice, and she uses her media relations skills in all agencyEA marketing campaigns.
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