Social media is a great tool for engaging your audience before, at and after an event, and there are many ways to turn your event into a share-worthy experience. But events are about more than just creating buzz and getting all the shares on social media.
Your event should primarily be an experience that attendees will enjoy. And since humans are social creatures, part of that is creating an experience that fosters interaction and communication.
Of course, social media is an important part of making an event more social! Here are 7 ideas that will make it super easy for people to socialise at your next event.
1. Make room for communication
Create a space at your event where attendees can have a sit-down and get to know each other. Most people make a lot of interesting new connections at events and need a space where they can engage with them.
By offering a designated space for networking, slightly apart from the main happenings, you encourage interaction. Having a clearly marked space for meeting with other attendees will also keep people from chatting too loudly during talks.
Set up a meeting spot for people who’ve interacted online to find each other offline. Put up a sign, a few standing tables, and call it a “social media table” or something else easily recognisable. Tweet this information out with your event hashtag to tell people about it.
2. Tie everything together with an event hashtag
More and more events already do this anyway, but it bears repeating: a hashtag is a great way to tie your event together online and offline. Setting up a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram gives attendees a shared online space to talk about your event. It also makes it easier for them to connect offline, for example by meeting in a social media corner to continue their conversations face-to-face.
It’s important to consistently use your own hashtag before, during and after the event. Ask your event speakers to adopt the hashtag as well!
I’ve noticed that social media walls at events function a bit like a campfire: people tend to congregate around a social wall, and it’s a great icebreaker for conversation. It also helps that people love seeing their own posts and photos pop up on the wall.
A social wall fosters interaction between attendees and also gives people who can’t attend a way to follow along from home.
It really pays off to put someone clearly in charge of online communication at an event, rather than thinking you can probably just handle that on the side. You’ll likely be busy with so many other things! Hire a social media manager or volunteer with experience to handle these things, in order to make sure the ball isn’t dropped.
That person or team should not just live-tweet the event, but also handle all communication with fans and followers on social media and moderate the social media wall if necessary. If you need help with the ins and outs of handling the social media for an event or conference, get tips from an experienced social media manager.
5. Live stream your event
Setting up a live stream is really straightforward these days. You can use YouTube, Periscope, Facebook Live or other services to broadcast talks straight from your stage to any device.
A live stream is obviously great for people at home who would like to not miss out. But it can also be great for event attendees. Set up live streams at strategic points throughout your event venue, e.g. the bar or buffet, in communication areas, lounges, etc.
Sometimes, people just need a breather and get out of the event hall but they still want to stay tuned and see what‘s going on. Combine your live stream displays with your social media wall to make it even more interactive!
6. Go for UGC
User-generated content is great because people love to interact with brands, especially if they get a shot at being rewarded for it. Give people a way to engage live at your event and then share it online, for example by setting up a photo booth. Photo booths and props are fun for attendees and organisers, as well as the people seeing the photos shared on social media.
7. Capture statements from your attendees
Send out a small team, or just one videographer, with a camera — a smartphone will totally do these days — and a mic, capturing what your attendees have to say about the event. Not only is it nice to have this for posterity and to learn from the feedback for your next event. You can also use the statements and interviews you record for promotional material, for example, short edited video clips that you can upload directly to social media to keep people talking about your event.
Over to you
Have we forgotten something? Tell us what you like to do to make people at your events comfortable and feeling social! What event tips do you have up your sleeve?