Whether your brand is a participating sponsor at a major conference or hosting an event of its own, there’s no question that live events are a major investment for marketers. With so much time and money on the line, organizers are increasingly turning to digital channels to expand the footprint of their events and supercharge their investments. Social media in particular provides several natural attendee touchpoints throughout the event life cycle and can extend the event experience to other would-be customers at home.
While not all events are created equal (B2B vs. DTC, big vs. small), there are a few best practices that can help any brand achieve live event success on social.
Before the Event: Drive Awareness, Intention, and Planning
The question of when to begin marketing an event on social is one that gets asked often, and the truth of the matter is that it’s never too early to start building interest. Brands can start to talk about an event as soon as it’s confirmed, and for as long as budget allows.
A recent StubHub report named Facebook as one of the top ways Americans discover live events, coming in a close second to word of mouth—which makes it a great place to start. Use lead ads to collect names for future remarketing, drive ticket sales and signups with targeted link ads, or create an in-platform event page to begin providing attendees with a steady stream of updates. Use content to tease the onsite experience (featured speaker sessions, behind the scenes setup, etc.) and help attendees with planning. If you’re attempting live video or other real-time coverage for audiences who can’t attend, this is a great time to promote those digital experiences as well.
During the Event: Be Available and Enable Participants to Tell the Story
A strong, always-on community management presence is critical for events and is something many attendees have grown to expect. Use channels like Twitter and Instagram to answer customer questions or troubleshoot issues on site. Acknowledging positive mentions can also go a long way in ensuring that a customer’s experience with your brand stands out above the rest.
Generating on-the-ground content for social is an another important consideration during the event, and a mix of brand and user-generated assets is ideal. For branded content, go in with a plan. Create quote cards from speeches in advance, develop a shot list for onsite photography and videography, and establish an efficient approval process that allows posts to go live close to real-time. This gives attendees the opportunity to engage while sessions are top of mind, and home viewers the feeling that they’re a part of it all.
For user-generated content, start by taking simple steps to ensure customer content is discoverable. Create Facebook and Instagram geotags in advance, and keep hashtags visible on premise. If visitor content is a high priority, this should be top of mind when planning the physical event space. Photographable moments within your footprint will invite visitors to share, and are much more seamless when considered early on.
After the Event: Keep the Energy Alive
Pulling off a live event of any size feels like reaching a marathon finish line—but smart marketers know that the end is really only the beginning. In fact, the days and weeks immediately following your activation may actually be some of the best to re-engage an already energized audience on social.
Keep the momentum going by sharing recap content, creating networking groups for attendees to stay in touch, and generating excitement for your next event or product offering. Make sure to leverage customer lists of those who engaged throughout to stay connected to them long-term.
While branded events can seem like a large effort with limited return, adding a few smart social tactics can maximize their impact and ensure lasting benefits.