Whilst early forays into marketing using social media were often a somewhat confused affair, social media as a tool is now starting to slowly mature and ‘stick’.
If you have a conference or summit coming up, your event is going to be on social media, whether or not you want it to be there. Simply put, if people are in attendance, their social followers will be in attendance as well. Whilst most organisers will sort out things like event hashtags, there are still a lot of missed opportunities for using social more effectively, and mistakes to avoid.
Hashtag campaigns at your event or conference
Picking a hashtag is something that’s been covered a thousand times over, so there’s no need to rehash this advice. Once you’ve ensured that your hashtag:
- makes sense, is compelling, and short
- isn’t a phrase that works as a sentence that looks silly when the spaces are removed
- isn’t copyrighted, or commonly used for another purpose
- is all over your event banners, on all your branded collateral, on your website, and everywhere else you can think of
… you can crack on with making your hashtag work for you.
Make sure hashtags streams are populated with branded content:
Schedule posts to populate the hashtag stream in advance to make sure content is going out regularly.
- Ahead of time, make sure that you have cued up some interesting tidbits of information to automatically be schedule during the event to make sure that your messaging is always present in the stream
- Part of this should include asking some open ended questions along the common theme of your posts – you want participation, not just dictation!
- Whilst it’s a great idea to encourage people to get involved with photos and videos (see below) it’s a good idea to hire someone to document things. You don’t want to rely on third parties to provide the only photos and videos of the event – so take ownership of things are make sure your streams are populated with high quality images and videos
Keep the conversation alive:
Have a dedicated person (or even a team of people for a very big event) managing your social media profiles and streams:
- You need to ensure that things like open ended questions actually get answers and response from you!
- You’ll also need to keep an eye on gripes, complains, compliments and comments. This is vital in keeping your brand looking good throughout – engage with people, look helpful – be helpful
- Ask your delegates to actively participate in your hashtag feeds. Remember, this is just as big an opportunity for them to promote themselves as to promote your event.
- Post highlights, share best quotes, retweet comments, share other peoples pictures and videos. You want them to feel part of things, so make sure they are.
Incentivise participation I: make it easy
Make sure there is an internet connection! It’s the year 2016. People expect and demand connectivity to the internet pretty much everywhere, and your event is no exception. If you want people to participate and be a part of your social media presence during your event, don’t make them rely on their phones.
- Make it fast. If the connection keeps dying out it’s going to annoy people.
- Don’t password protect it; if you have to, then put the password everywhere so it doesn’t cause hassle
- Give the Wi-Fi an obvious name, such as the name of your event.
Incentivise Participation II: Display your stream at the event
Make social media part of the event, not an entirely separate summary of it that happens elsewhere. This way, you can have the tweets and photos appearing live in front of audiences. This can be a powerful way to encourage participation as people see their efforts rewarded with inclusion in your stream in real time.
This also makes it easier to involve audiences in your scheduled posts, questions, etc. People like to see their own content going live.
Whilst this sort of thing can be achieved to a limited extent with twitter displayed on a screen, it’s worth getting some dedicated software in place to aggregate everything for you so your audience can see all your hashtag social content (and consequently, the best of their own posts) on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can even reward people with prizes at the event for the best tweet, best photo, best video, etc.
Using a dedicated social wall at your even has a number of benefits:
- This allows you to aggregate your hashtag streams in one place
- Attendees can see their engagement in real time
- You control the branding, appearance, and what people get to see…
Control your branding by curating what the audience sees
A huge advantage to using dedicated software such as Miappi is that you can tightly control the content that appears in front of your audience. Whilst having dedicated social media team on hand to deal with any gripes and complaints is a good idea, you don’t want any negative sentiments to actually crop in your social displays at all. By setting up filtering rules it’s possible to screen out poor quality, negative or otherwise undesirable posts from appearing in from of your audience.
This prevents your hashtag campaign from being hijacked by competitors or the more nefarious elements of Twitter’s underbelly. Controlling the message also lets you use the social stream as a tie-in for your sponsors: Sell posts to go out at regular intervals in your scheduled tweets and other content; people are more likely to engage with in-line ads when they don’t look like ads, and at the event, you can be sure that their sponsored tweets will always be sitting contextually in positive messaging.
With these steps you can ensure that your social media activity becomes a part of your event, incentivises real engagement and interaction with your attendees, works as a promotional platform for your delegates, and works as an additional advertising platform for your sponsors.