by David Tien on Thu 07 August 2014

Events are inherently a social experience. Nobody wants to be the only person at the concert, festival, conference, or game. So where better to promote your next event then on social media.

Pre Event

This stage of the event will begin months before the actual event. The earlier you start laying the foundation and building the buzz, the better.

  • Know Your Audience
    Who are you targeting for this event? Are they within a certain geography or demographic? After you identify this with your team, you'll have a better sense on which social networks you'll want to target. If it's a food or music driven event, you'll want to focus your efforts on Instagram or Facebook. If it's business or professional related, than LinkedIn might be a better channel.

    Find influencers or thought leaders in your target demographic and get them involved in your conversation.

  • Speak Their Language
    Use a tool like Topsy to discover what your potential attendees are talking about, hashtagging with, and taking photos of. Topsy works great with Twitter and has very powerful search capability, but if you need a more multi-network search try out Spotlyte's own hashtag search tool.

  • Create a separate event identity
    Ideally you want to have your event have its own identify that's related but independent from your main web page. Structure your content more effectively around your event, rather than trying to work within the existing navigation/theme/structure of your main web page.

    Try out services like Weebly or SquareSpace which have very simple yet powerful website creation capabilities. With very reasonable costs, including free options.

    Also be sure to spread the event identity and brand across the various event platforms, such as, EventBrite, Facebook Events, Lanyrd, and more.

  • Start Engaging
    Form a cohesive social marketing campaign built around your event name and chosen hashtag. Launch photo or hashtag campaigns to build buzz. Don't let this effort go to waste, be sure to embed all campaigns and user generated content on your event website.

    Get your audience in on the planning, poll them with questions about what speakers, panels, or artists they would most like to see at the event.

Days Before The Event

The lead-up to the event will be a hectic period as you secure vendors, coordinate speaker arrival times, booth displays, etc. However, don't ignore your social media strategy.

  • Plan day-of Campaigns
    On the day of the actual event, you'll be swamped with constant fires and meet-and-greets. Pre-plan a set of mini-campaigns that can be launched throughout the day to engage your audience. These can include onsite photo scavengeer hunts, live social polls, and hashtag contests. Have them canned and automatically scheduled to launch throughout the day.

During The Event

All the hard work has led up to this day. Leverage your social media by creating a unique and dynamic experience for your attendees.

  • Engage with Context
    Mix some of your pre-planned mini campaigns with real time campaigns. Amplify what's currently buzzing. Did someone just give a great talk, or performance? Is a certain vendor or product getting a lot of attention -- or not enough? Create a campaign to highlight what's happening in the moment. Or let your audience dictate their experience by launching a real time social poll.

  • Social Wall
    Make sure you highlight the social activity at the event by providing a live social wall. This goes beyond your standard Tweet wall. Excite and engage the audience as they see the social activity buzzing around them.

  • Monitor and Respond
    Your audience will buzz ( or complain ) about what they're experiencing on social media. Stay in front of any trending excitement or potential disaster by having a real time monitoring tool provide constant feedback. Your team should be ready to adjust and respond to your attendee's feedback immediately.

Post Event

The event was a massive success, with a great turnout and response. But your job is not done. This is the time to gather feedback and start planning for the next event. And to turn potential fans into brand advocates.

  • Survey
    Follow up with your attendees and find out what worked and what didn't. Weebly has some basic survey tools available in its widget library.

  • Aggregate and Amplify
    If you did the prior steps, you should have a lot of content generated around your event. Now's the time to organize it all and display the best posts that fit your brand and image to build buzz.

  • Discover and Convert
    Analyze your social media content and find out what topics were trending at your event. See who your top influencers or top posters were, engage these fans directly. Your fans are your biggest brand advocates.

Throughout the entire event planning cycle, be sure to amplify all your social media efforts by displaying all your campaigns and user generated content on your website. Continually engage your audience pre/during/post event to keep the buzz building.

How are you incorporating social into your next event strategy?

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