Most events these days require a social media presence. Channels like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn help planners to build excitement during the run-up to a major conference or exhibition, bolster engagement among event attendees. They drive FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) for anyone not planning to attend while helping to communicate programme details, promote speakers and leverage value for sponsors and stakeholders.
If you also choose to use social media to sell tickets, that’s a lot of advanced marketing aims and motivations. And what about responding to delegate queries, concerns and feedback? Shouldn’t your social media be a customer service mechanism as well as a marketing tool?
But hang on, I thought you were an event planner, not a social media marketer or help-desk attendant? In this era of social media dominance, you often need to be all three.
You may even need to produce your own visuals, video, photography, animated gifs or other social assets. That now also makes you a designer, photographer, videographer and animator on top of your other roles.
This is why so many event planners do social media badly – because there’s often either too much of a disconnect between marketing, PR and operations or, one small event planning team is expected to do it all.
Advanced social media for events has evolved way beyond sending out a few tweets, slapping a hashtag on the marketing collateral and live tweeting the keynote.
Social’s pre, during and post-event role needs to be defined well in advance, budget allocated, content resourced properly, and a schedule put in place, so that posts are published against set objectives and results can be measured.
In other words, you need a coherent content strategy to determine what’s realistic against resource and budget, which areas of the event planning process social media can help bolster, how to respond to both positive and negative social chatter, and what actions can be taken as a result of reporting analytics.
Here are five top tips to help build a content strategy
1) Define your content
If one of your objectives is to drive attendees to an event website (either to buy tickets or engage with programme content), you may need regular blog posts, which can then be promoted via social posts, giving users more reasons to keep returning to your site.
Fresh long-form content will improve your site’s SEO, drive attendee engagement and help build your social following.
If a primary objective is to encourage attendees to download the event app or build excitement around a destination or line-up, you may decide to prioritise visuals, videos, testimonials and competition mechanics. Content asset variety is important in order to stand out, increase reach and drive engagement.
2) Appoint your channels
If you’re organising an annual exhibition, festival or consumer-facing event, building an audience across key social networks will help you to grow a loyal community, more likely to attend year on year.
This requires a year-round content strategy, however. It can scale-up and scale-down but should always be resourced to respond and post relevant content across chosen channels throughout the year.
This doesn’t mean just ‘pushing’ a few tweets or Instagram posts through onto Facebook either. Each channel requires its own dedicated content, allowing for factors such as unique handle mentions, hashtags, the best time to post, and post aesthetics.
If your event only requires a one-off social plan, however, consider using an existing company or brand channel with an audience already in-place and create, for example, a spin-off Facebook Event or LinkedIn Group, which will build an audience more quickly.
3) Design a content calendar
A shared content calendar will allow you to plan your posting timeline and structure your posts according to objectives, formats, themes, key announcements and other event-related specifics.
A content calendar isn’t, however, a spreadsheet of all tweets and posts written out in advance.
A common mistake made, especially among marketing managers, is to demand advanced sign-off of post copy, timings and attachments and then wonder why tweets lack personality and resulting engagement.
Tone of voice, brand guidelines and ‘wording types’ for social posts should be explored and agreed upon in workshops or team meetings when discussing other elements of your content calendar.
It’s even an idea to show a few scheduled posts in a platform such as Buffer or Hootsuite. But when it comes to actually creating posts, the person appointed to publish the content must be given the freedom to tweak, adjust for word count limits, add creativity, and iterate based on post performance.
4) Develop content
Discover what content commands the most engagement on each of your social media platforms against each of the themes, objectives and key moments included on your content calendar.
For example, if you’ve chosen to use social polls to gauge opinion, are you getting more responses from Facebook or Twitter polls? How does the time of day, the wording of the poll and the visuals used impact poll response?
Also consider, what other types of content can you easily create or curate to make you stand-out or achieve a specific objective? Are there existing videos that can be edited into one-minute Instagram posts or testimonials that can form newly created visuals?
Experiment with different content by changing the wording, adding emojis, shooting ‘behind-the-scenes’ vertical video, or adding relevant hashtags and handles to see what drives reach and engagement.
Content development can’t be pre-planned. It needs to be resourced so that it can be proactively carried out in real-time by persons who know how to use mobile apps and design platforms to create experimental content that can evolve according to audience reaction.
5) Track content
Social media analytics provides swathes of data on post performance, which may keep the marketing team happy. But it should also be used to assess behavioural insights into areas such as user response, best times of day to post, tone of voice, and what types of content you should be doing more of.
These behavioural insights are arguably more important for your content strategy than performance-based data, but too often get ignored.
It’s great that a particular post performed better than expected but why was that? Can it be replicated with other posts? And what can you do to test insights with other types of content?
Remember, a social content strategy should be fluid, agile and able to respond quickly to real-world situations. It should meet the event’s objectives and match company values, tone of voice and brand guidelines but it also requires room for creativity, iteration and insights.
Events are about bringing people together
Social media strategies before and during your event should be different and you need to plan accordingly. Event planners can leverage social media during their events to maximise the experience for attendees, speakers and sponsors. By connecting your mobile event app to social media, you make it convenient for attendees to foster deeper relationships all while promoting your organisation.
To enhance your social media strategy download Cvent’s Social Media Checklist: Powering Live Events and about learn:
- The benefits of social media for event marketing
- Reclaiming attendees attention in a four-screen world
- Creating a social media hub
- Amplifying your events best moments
- Handling feedback through social media
- Engaging influencers and attendees on social media