Harnessing the power of social media before, during and after an event

05 February 2019 by Anthony Williams

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Event Finder

There’s no doubt about it, social media has revolutionised the event industry in many ways. An effective social media strategy can make all the difference and help to drive awareness of an event, and even more importantly, increase visitor numbers or ticket sales.

However, before you hit that ‘send tweet’ button, there are a few things you should do first and foremost. Chief amongst these is to choose which social networks you will be using to target your event audience. Here are a few key pieces of advice:

  • Research your target audience and find out which networks they use most frequently.
  • Familiarise yourself with your chosen networks and spend some time learning how to use it most effectively.
  • Balance your resources and focus your efforts. Don’t spread yourself too thin trying to post to every network. It’s much better to target 2 or 3 networks to a high standard, rather than 15 badly.
  • Choose a unique hashtag and encourage people to use it, this will help you to curate user-generated content.

Once you have all of this figured out, it’s time to implement your social media strategy. This will vary depending on the type of event you are running, however, there are always some core similarities that can be applied to any strategy. Social media marketing for events falls into three distinct stages - before, during and after.

Before the event

At this stage of the campaign, it’s all about drumming up awareness, anticipation and hopefully a dash of FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s also the most crucial stage as it can translate directly to visitor numbers and ticket sales. An active social media presence in the lead up to an event can also ensure steady engagement during as people have become accustomed to seeing your accounts in their newsfeeds.

There’s no set rule on how soon before an event to start your social media strategy, however, we would advise you to aim for 6 months minimum and 1 year maximum. Any less than 6 months and you might not have enough time to create a buzz, any more than 1 year and it’s too far away for people to commit (plus, you might struggle to fill a whole year with content!). If you’re worried about content, start slowly with a few posts per week and build momentum as you get closer to the event.

Now, depending on the type of event you are running, there should be plenty of content to post about. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Introduce any speakers, special guests or exhibitors.
  • Post links to any press releases for your event.
  • Promote links to buy tickets (maybe introduce an early bird discount to drive urgency).
  • Giveaways and competitions to help drive engagement.
  • Behind the scenes updates on the event preparation.

One final thing to note, don’t simply use your social media networks as a soapbox. Get involved in conversations, retweet and share people who are expressing an interest in your event and ask questions. The aim is to build a community, not a one-way conversation.  

During the event

The big day (or days) is here, your delegate list is overflowing with names and you can’t wait to get into the thick of it. However, it’s crucial that you keep the momentum going online and capture all of the chatter about your event. It’s likely that your delegates will all be using social media to post about your event. There’s also going to be a lot going on that you will want to capture online.

Remember: if it’s a regular event, you’re still marketing to any people who didn’t come.  

Live posting during an event is a completely different skill to implementing a strategy during the build up. There’s less time to think things through or plan out your content, it’s just capture and post. As a result, the odd spelling mistake or error might slip through the cracks, try not to dwell on it for too long. It’s the immediacy of your updates that are engaging to your audience.   

But what exactly will you post? Again, that will depend entirely on the event you’re running. A few ideas from the team at Winter Gardens include:

  • Share videos and content from speakers or entertainment.
  • Signpost different activities, seminars, demonstrations or interesting things that might be happening.
  • Post behind-the-scenes content, such as images and videos.
  • Post polls asking opinions (both Twitter and Facebook have this functionality built in).
  • Retweet posts from delegates about your event.

It’s hard to plan what you’re going to post about during an event, however, it is possible to pre-mediate and schedule some content to help fill the gaps and minimise your workload. Shoot for a healthy mixture of ‘live’ content and ‘scheduled’ content that’s designed to stimulate conversation.

After the event

It’s here that most people fail to finish off their social media strategy! After event posting is often overlooked. However, it can seem a bit cold to build all of this engagement and then simply stop cold turkey. If your event has been a success then there will still be plenty of conversation about it afterwards. You want to leave people with a warm glow, especially if you will be running the event again next year!

We would recommend that you keep posting regularly for at least 1 - 2 weeks after your event. After that, it can become more sporadic to just keep things ticking over until you’re ready to announce your next event.  

You don’t need to post as often, but a few posts a week just help to wean your followers off and make sure you squeeze every last drop out of the event. A few things you might consider posting about include:

  • Any press coverage of your event in the media.
  • Any videos and content that you held back from the event itself (people love to try and spot themselves in group shots, challenge them to it!).
  • Ask those who attended for feedback, you may even get some valuable notes to improve for next time.

And there you have it, an overview of the best practice for social media strategy before, during and after an event. Using this framework and adding your own creative touch should be the blueprint you need to create a buzz about your next event online.

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Looking for a venue to host an event you’re planning? Winter Gardens Blackpool has a range of connected event spaces suitable for capacities ranging from 50 right up to 7,000. Call us on 01253 629728 or email events@wintergardensblackpool.co.uk to enquire or book a site visit.

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