Now more than ever, event-goers and hosts alike are aware of how virtual experiences and in-person events can go hand in hand. It’s no secret that event social media can play a vital role in bringing your event onto the grid and setting yourself up for success – but what’s the best way to leverage social media to get the outcome you want?
Whether you’re planning an intimate get-together or the party of the century, here are a few essential steps to using social media to ensure that your event is a success.
1. Clarify your goals
While it may sound obvious, having an extremely clear picture of your event and goals is essential to crafting your messaging and conducting your outreach. This goes beyond the basics of date, time, location, and so forth to secondary details and more challenging factors like formality and how your event will feel.
Ultimately, you’ll want the messaging to match the event, and social media can be a great way to let your guests know what to expect through tone and design choices in addition to sheer information.
Consider some of the following questions as you start to craft your social media campaign:
- Do I want to reach as many people as possible, or am I targeting a specific audience?
- What do I hope to achieve through this event, and how can that be reflected in my messaging?
- When I think about what would make this a truly successful event, how can my social media campaign set these outcomes up to succeed?
As you consider the answers to these questions, there are a few areas you’ll want to have ironed out in advance of choosing your platforms and launching your campaign. This is both so that your branding remains consistent and so that you can answer any questions that may come up along the way.
- What are the time, date, duration, and setting of the event?
- Is this a strictly in-person event, or is there also a virtual component?
- Are RSVPs encouraged or required?
- Is there a cost to attend the event?
- Is this a closed event, open to plus-ones, or open to all? (If the last of these is the case, post-sharing should be encouraged.)
- Are there details like parking, wardrobe, or weather that guests should keep in mind?
- If there is a virtual component, how will links be shared? Will a recording be made available to attendees who can’t make it?
- What will be the “feel” of the event? How sophisticated, casual, energetic, laidback, hip, comfortable, or communal should it be?
- What color profiles, visual artists, or music genres best represent the tone of the event?
2. Identify your audience
One of the most crucial aspects of leveraging social media to promote your event is to target your audience appropriately.
If the event is geared toward a particular set of demographics (for instance, young people in the Los Angeles area), then hashtags and even targeted marketing can help single out potential attendees. If the event has a guest list, you might consider creating a Facebook group or page specific to the event.
And of course, in instances when you hope to attract a certain kind of event-goer, tailoring the aesthetics and messaging of your posts to appeal to that audience is vital.
3. Make a plan
Whether your event is big or small, there’s a key piece of advice that can’t be stressed enough: start early. Map out how often you intend to post, which platforms you intend to use, and whether you’ll create your own designs for visual posts.
Additionally, you shouldreate a social media calendar to stay on track, and if you get the sense that you’ll need assistance with any part of the process, aim to seek out the support you need sooner rather than later.
4. Stick to a cadence
There are several ways to choose the social media cadence that’s right for your event. To a certain degree, this may simply depend on your bandwidth, but there are other factors at play. For example, larger events – especially those timed to compete with other events, such as Saturday night concerts or holiday parties – may benefit from extra reminders for your guests.
On the other hand, an event requiring RSVPs well in advance may only require a final post 48 hours or a week before the event. In any case, establishing a strong (and sustainable) cadence can also be crucial in boosting engagement across platforms.
5. Prioritize high-quality content
When it comes to crafting an effective campaign, no single factor is more important than high-quality content. Take time to craft your message with care, and be sure to hit the following marks:
- Communicate clearly and concisely, avoiding excess verbiage.
- Use a warm, invitational tone that matches the feel of your event.
- Tag smartly, focusing on keywords and hashtags that are appropriate for your event and audience.
- Always be sure to proofread.
- Get inspired by other successful social media campaigns, but make sure all your content is original and unique.
- When working with visual media, take time to crop, size, and optimize images (and always ensure that you have the creative rights to use images).
6. Treat each platform as unique
While social media has become a nearly universal way of connecting, users are not distributed equally across platforms. Who uses which social media platform the most depends on many demographic factors, from age and education to income level and region.
The social media platforms you select for your campaign should ideally be chosen with your target audience in mind. Additionally, it’s important to remember that each social media platform functions differently and gear your content toward individual platforms accordingly.
While creating content for each platform, you may also promote a unique hashtag for the event. Something like #EventTitle+Year is a simple but effective hashtag formula. Then, collect all the content generated during the event on a social media wall.
Even if people don’t like or have social media profiles, Walls.io’s Direct Post feature lets everyone post directly to a social media wall.
A real-time social media wall gives your attendees their 15 minutes of fame. They can submit their selfies, videos, or comments to the wall by posting them on social media with the event hashtag or directly to the wall.
Exhibit A: below, a post of an international Mary Kay Leadership event where an attendee shows her excitement at seeing her post appear on the event’s social media feed.
Collect authentic content that attendees post using your hashtag.
8. Craft the journey
Social media can be an important part of crafting your guest’s journey from initial impression to the event itself. Typically, this journey might look something like this:
- Initial exposure on social media
- Possible secondary exposure through another social platform or email campaign
- Click redirected to a landing page/RSVP portal
- Thank you page following RSVP
- Event reminders via social and/or email
- Event attendance
As you walk through your prospective guest’s journey, it’s important to minimize the number of clicks it takes to get from the initial post to an RSVP or registration page. You may also develop separate journey branches to attract potential guests who haven’t yet engaged and retain those who have.
9. Enlist help if needed
If you’re planning a large event, you may have an entire team at your back, or you may be working solo for small to midsize events. Be honest (and be honest early) about what you’re able to field on your own and what you’ll need help with, both in terms of time commitment and knowledge level.
Depending on the type of event, you may also consider recruiting influencers to help amplify the reach of your social media campaign and reach your target audience.
Evaluating and learning from the success of your social media campaign is an essential part of the process. Some social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, have analytics built-in, as do several email and RSVP platforms.
However, it’s always a good idea to track results according to your specific goals and to identify key performance indicators (often abbreviated as KPIs) for your particular event and campaign early on.
KPIs might include the total number of attendees, new audience engagement, or recurring guests. Keep a file noting what you did and how well it worked, and then leverage this intelligence toward plotting your next event and campaign.
11. Look toward the next event
Even if you don’t have a specific event in mind just yet, looking forward to the future is the perfect way to wrap up any event experience. Use the contact list you’ve captured to thank people for attending, and let them know you’re looking forward to seeing them again soon.
You might also encourage them to share any event photos they took in a shared folder or sign a virtual guestbook. Little touches like this can go a long way toward strengthening connections and ensuring that your next event is a success.
Get a social wall for your next event!
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