Effective social media for your next big event

Social media and event marketing is a match made in heaven. Any time you’re responsible for managing an event whether it’s a high level TED like summit or an American Idol equivalent for start-ups, you need to think social media first. Social media should not be regarded as a promotional tool but as a core component of your event, otherwise you’re not even finding your way to the starting line.  Social media gives new meaning to ‘event’ and allows organizers to drive awareness and engagement. We’re not talking about just tweeting or posting videos, we’re talking about integrating the real sphere and the digital sphere, opening up dialogue with the audience and leveraging their networks of interest and influence.

Should you start with Facebook? Yes. Yes. And Yes. It is still by far the most penetrated platform. The simplicity of the event-organizing feature invalidates outdated forms of event marketing, presenting more direct, swift and accessible means of getting people together. Start by creating a Facebook event page and inviting people to become followers – remembering to include all relevant information including date, time, speakers, location and other relevant information on the event page like photos of speakers, interesting stories and speaker backgrounds. It’s not often touted as crucial, but it’s really crucial you update the event regularly. By regularly I mean daily leading up to the event date. It also means making sure you cross promote your event and event page on your company page and the organizer’s team persona page.  You should consider spending a little on paid Facebook ads that are targeted at your specific demographics. If you have celebrity speakers or influencers participating at your event, you should make sure you leverage their large social media following and encourage them to tweet about the event with a hashtag shout out.

Depending on the scale of your event, it is probably a good idea to set up a unique Twitter account, which you would need to do at more than 6 months in advance of the event – to allow time to build up followers. You need to be realistic how many followers you can build and think about the source of these people. It’s better to use an existing one if there is one.  Remember to use hashtag in the promotion of your event and include it on any promotional print material that you distribute regarding the event.

The third one is LinkedIn. It hasn’t been very useful until very recently when it started adding many Facebookish features and featuring ‘groups’ which are are getting larger and larger. Facebook is your social resume, LinkedIn is your catch-all experience resume. Where Facebook is for dealing with the publicity and the social side, LinkedIn is for straight-up business. You should start creating an event group at least 4 months before the event starts. Even before you lineup the speakers and event content, there needs to be a presence. You don’t need to provide daily content to the LinkedIn event, Facebook does that. The purpose of the LinkedIn event is network and connect people, and focus them to the main website event page or the Facebook page. Use LinkedIn to leverage their networks and activate interest, direct their attention to engaging content, and initiate participation with networked interest.

Consider create a LinkedIn event before or after your event. Here are a few things to remember when creating your LinkedIn event. Be smart about choosing a descriptive name so people know immediately what it is without guessing.  People will judge your event based on the name.  Yes it needs to be catchy but also descriptive. It is online event so picking the time zone will impact what target audience based on their geographic location. Use that dropdown menu beside the date/time fields for you to choose the time zone of your event and make sure you pick the relevant industries.

Now that you’ve promoted the event through Facebook and Linkedin, it’s time for you to focus on the most important thing – content. You have your Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin content, now the task is to develop a content strategy.  Engaging content is things like relevant videos, highlights, hashtags, twitter walls, reviews, presentations and slideshares, blog posts, inforgraphics and pictures. This a whole different game and probably justify another post.

the author

Jaraad Mootee

Jaraad is a technology analyst at Idea Couture.