How to Use Social Media to Amplify Events
Rebecca Council, Chief Engagement Officer of CLR Digital Media Services joined us for Houston Social Media Breakfast and shared how to utilize social media to promote special events. With Rebecca’s extensive experience in event planning and social sharing, she broke down how to approach the planning, organization, and activation of events and social media sharing.
Determine what kind of event you are planning What kind of event do you want?
- Public vs. Private
- Live vs. Staggered Shares
First, you need to decide what the goals are of your event. You don’t want personal events like weddings and baby showers shared publicly because you wouldn’t want any surprise guests. In contrast, you would want the opening of your new store, a bank, etc. to be promoted publicly. You are going to want a solid public lead-in to draw the biggest possible turn-out to your opening.
Second, determine which platforms are most appropriate and how best to target the desired audience with them. Create a unique hashtag and use it consistently across all platforms. Be prepared with information to present upfront, track daily via hashtags, and provide solid reporting at wrap-up.
Tired of typing out the hashtags everytime, especially in Instagram stories? Prep all your hashtags before the event in a phone app like notes or Evernote.
💡💡 Great Tip: Use the Text Replacement option on your phone. It creates a shortcut for that hashtag allowing for easier, and quicker typing. 💡💡
How to utilize IGTV
Leading up to a big event, consider a daily recap on IGTV. It can be useful but it has to be more than one minute. So you really need to make sure that you know what you're going to say ahead of time because if you're one that doesn't really like being on camera for very long you want to make sure that you're not looking at the time having nothing to say. If you're camera shy, one minute is a long time. Remember you can actually cut together a recap of the whole day and upload it.
There are apps for video creation. Another supporting app is a teleprompter. You can plan out what you would like to say and view it as you are recording. With this, Rebecca’s suggestion was BIGVU.
Studies have shown that you lose about 20% of your attention to your cognitive ability for every step of the thing that you add. For example, if you’re watching a live video and you're leaving comments, you're also missing out on what they're saying. Because you're thinking about what you're going to say.
Downsides of Live Events
Rebecca shared that this distraction is, indeed, a downside of live video events. Some question if posting a live stream will dissuade people from actually attending the event. It really depends on the person, but generally it is a different audience.
But does it encourage people to come?
The people who are actually at the event are really the ones that we focus on because they're the ones who made the effort to get there. So if you're putting on the event you want to focus on the people who are there and show the people who are home what they're missing out on. Sometimes you may ask them questions or do testimonials as they're standing there live.
Hashtag, Hashtag, Hashtag
Having a hashtag for an event now is commonplace. Choose short hashtags that are going to represent the event that you're doing. Make sure to research any hashtags that you want to use to ensure that no one else is using it or that you’re using it inappropriately. It’s happened and it’s gone badly. So do your research!
One of the best ways to research them is to look them up on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Look at every single platform where your hashtags are used and see how they're being used. How do you measure? Most hashtag tools are expensive. A somewhat affordable, though still not cheap, is Hashtracking. It is about $60month, but it also tracks Instagram hashtags.
For affordable tracking of stories, archive the story and you can see how many people viewed your posts. With our influencers, we ask them to give us a screenshot of their stories with the view numbers. That's really the only way that you can do it.
How far in advance of the event should you be out on social media and how often?
When do we start getting that buzz going on social media? For very large events like conferences, Rebecca starts 11 months out. She starts her backward calendar report event and begins tracking hashtags to see if they are working. This allows you to rework hashtags as necessary when planning your content.
If a speaker is actually bigger than the event, this may be an easier topic to share and connect with on social. Rebecca then likes to have three months of content in advance with 15 topics in place to mix up across platforms, including utilizing the popular speaker.
Now if you're running a smaller event, how far in advance do you get going on it? It will depend on the event, but consider creating images for the campaign, logos, and custom codes – including affiliate and discount. These can create a uniform campaign as well as easier tracking. This is especially useful for annual and other recurrent events wherein you may be wanting to offer a discount code for returning attendees.
For those planning events, Rebecca also shared tools like Eventbrite and how easily the links are reshared. Also, Rebecca encourages getting the speakers to spread the word. She calls them friends of the conference. They can go into other groups and diversify your reach.
Does paid reach work?
Rebecca believes that with proper targeting Facebook ads can be very successful. WIth one campaign, “it was like printing money”. You must be precise, however, with the number of characters across the picture as Facebook has rules regarding the ratio of text to the image. She and Kami each have created stops in their respective programs when writing their content. By the way, the two disagree as to how many characters that limit is.
So who do you want at the event?
For conferences, Rebecca targets other social media managers, people who are interested in social media, people who like pages similar to hers. She also targets ads to friends of her page’s fans. For in-person events, targeting location is of utmost importance. If your event is here in Houston, getting great interest and traction on the other side of the world, do not sell tickets or get bodies in the door. In the case of virtual events, that may not be true, Your sponsors may be worldwide and attendees, likewise. In either case, a very cool way for attendees to be involved is to live tweet out what the speakers are saying and tag the company so as an attendee tweet about that because that gives you a lot of visibility.
Whether your event already has a great anchor speaker and a solid base of follow-up speakers or you are trying to attract more speakers with one large name, you can learn a lot great industry practices of large events at the podcast Into the Green Room.
At the Event
How do you control the image quality while at the event? Rebecca suggests sharing to IG stories and Twitter live but save pictures for the IG feed for later. Those need more attention to ensure that they meet the higher expectations of that platform. You can also consider creating a Gallery on Facebook. Some, however, are loath to work on Facebook unless they already have a large active following. Otherwise, with the FB algorithms, you will not get seen without purchasing an ad. Sometimes, Rebecca suggests, it is worth purchasing the ad out of your pocket to demonstrate its value.
💡💡If you go to the Facebook page of a competitor, it will tell you if they're running ads and it will actually show you the ads they're running. 💡💡
To conclude, plan your platform and content based on your timeline and size of your project.