Finding an event professional that wouldn’t use social media for event promotion event is as rare as digging out a truffle. While many event organisers use social media channels to drive attendance, not all of them maintain their presence on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram during the event. And that’s a great pity!
If you stop using social media the moment your conference gets rolling, you are not only cutting off the conversation with your attendees way too soon but you’re also losing an important community building opportunity.
In fact, integrating and nourishing social media is a key element in engaging your attendees and creating a desired sense of community. Moreover, social media allows you to reach to the remote audience and get more value from a single event than ever before.
The perks of using social media are countless so here are 10 tips for integrating it into your live event.
1. Select a simple, evergreen #hashtag
The event #hashtag is at least as important as the name of your event. It gives your event an identity on social media! The hashtag allows you to filter the conversations related to your event on Twitter and track them before, during and after the conference. By monitoring your #hashtag, you can turn Twitter into your private backchannel and listen to audience’s feedback in real-time.
So how does a great event hashtag look like?
- It’s short
Tweet can be only 140 characters long so always try to keep your event hashtag short to save space for actual messages. Using initials and numbers is a proven way how to generate a solid hashtag that people will use.
- It’s unique
Do some research and check if your selected hasthag is not already taken. You don’t want to mix with someone else’s conversation and confuse your attendees.
- It’s memorable
Your event hashtag should be so easy that event attendees could deduce it logically from the event’s name. Ideally your hashtag matches the name of your event. E.g. SXSW conference in Austin, US –> the hashtag #SXSW
2. Use #hashtag everywhere
Start using your event #hashtag the moment you roll out your event promotion.
- Include it on your website
- Attach it to your emails
- Place it on all ad banners
- Tag all your posts and tweets with it
Print #hashtag on attendees’ badges so they can check it anytime they’re not sure about it. Place it on the introductory slide of the presentation and then on every subsequent slide in the footer. In fact, sessions are the busiest time when it comes to live tweeting so make sure the #hashtag is close at hand.
Powerful tip: Give your event a name in the format of Twitter hashtag. Eventbrite and Bizbash named their New York conference #ElevateNYC. It was incredibly effective as attendees naturally entered this name/hashtag into their posts and thus extended the social reach of the conference.
3. Incentify tweeting
It’s not enough to tell people the hashtag of your conference, you should prompt them to use it. When promoting the smartphone Motorola X on the tour, Guy Kawasaki explicitly asked people at the offset of his keynote to use the hashtag and tweet that they were attending his live event.
Incentify tweeting to create the buzz. Make it fun, make a game out of it! You wouldn’t believe what people are capable of doing for a branded T-shirt that they will never wear. Even small gifts can massively boost the number of sent tweets.
Organise simple contest to encourage tweeting, for instance:
a) The person with the highest number of tweets will win the prize
b) The picture with the highest number of retweets will win the prize
4. Display the Twitter stream
You can use services that display the tweets with your event hashtag on the screens around the conference. Beaming the attendees’ tweets boost the interaction and bring exposure to your delegates. For some seeing their tweet on the screen feels as if they’ve just appeared on the national TV.
In addition to full screen display, tools like Twubs project the leaderboards of your Twitter contests and incite the competitive spirit among your attendees.
5. Give your attendees Internet access
Nothing spoils the fun more than the lousy Internet connection. As a matter of fact, the speedy wifi is becoming the modern essential in the new Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs.
While local delegates can easily relay on their 3G/4G mobile data at events, foreign attendees are dependent on the Internet network you provide. Discuss the wireless infrastructure with the venue provider and ask him to ensure that the network will sustain the number of your participants that will connect to the wifi at the same time.
Don’t’ password-protect the wifi network at your event. As Guy Kuwasaki said “the password-protected networke is the enemy of social media buzz.”
In case the network is protected by default, place the password all around the venue so it’s never far away.
- Print out simple posters with the login details and put them up on doors
- Place the wifi details on the tables
- Hand them out at the registration.
6. Appoint a social media person
It’s practically impossible to be present on social media during the event without a dedicated person. And even that dedicated person will be busy as a bee taking care of a number of things at once. The appointed social media person should:
a) Post the highlights from the event
b) Share the best quotes from speakers
c) Retweet attendees’ posts
d) Respond to the mentions
e) Snap pictures and share them during breaks
You can appoint someone from within your team or simply hire an external social media personality.
7. Share live updates
Live-streaming is the ultimate way of sharing real-time updates from your event. It might be financially heavy but its advantages are undeniable. While you can host only a certain number of delegates at the venue, the online audience is practically unlimited. You can easily expand your total number of delegates by 5 to 2o times.
For instance, the interactive Pioneers festival hosted 2.500 onsite attendees but thanks to the live broadcast, they reached another 50.000 people online!
If you don’t live-stream your event, share the most important updates on your social media. Twitter is the best platform for real-time coverage! Don’t forget to tag all your posts with your event hashtag! For more tips on live-tweeting at conferences, take a look at this guide.
Live blogging is another super powerful tool how to provide your online audience with real-time updates. Its flexible format allows to you bring detailed updates and simultaneously “bookmark” the content that can be elaborated after the event.
Check out this article to learn the tricks from Apple’s amazing live blog.
8. Build a photo wall
Have you seen the Oscar red carpet ceremony? Have you seen the highlights from any film premiere or festival? They all have one thing in common – the photo wall!
Provide your attendees a place where they can take pictures – set up your own photo wall! You can also hand out the props to make the pictures look much more fun!
Powerful tip: Make sure to encourage social media sharing by announcing the photo contest.
E.g. Top three photos with the highest number of likes or retweets will win a bottle of whiskey, a box of Lego, t-shirt. The options for rewards are endless, the results are always mesmerizing.
9. Involve your speakers
Your line-up is often the main reason why your delegates pay big bucks for the ticket and fly hundreds of kilometres to your event. They want to see their heroes/speakers live. And they would love to grab a selfie with them. According to Julia Hertz from Eventbrite “Selfies are the new autographs.” and I can’t agree more with her.
Therefore, encourage your speakers to spend some time with the delegates after their presentation and respond to their questions face-to-face, elaborate on the points they made on stage and take photos with your delegates.
10. Share relentlessly after the event
What’s the point of creating all that content if it doesn’t get shared after the event?
Make sure to share the pictures and videos on all your platforms during and after your event. The goal is to get everyone at the event see their photo and share it further with their audiences. Encourage people to tag themselves in order to increase the social reach.
Powerful tip: Tools like Eventifier that allow you to aggregate and showcase all social media content from your event. They can be pretty handy.
Integrating social media into your events helps you build conversation, create the event community, generate brand awareness, extend the event life cycle and the list goes on. The tips I presented here will help you get started on the right foot and if nothing else inspire you to better integrate social at your next event!