Whether it's a launch party, a conference or a networking event, companies have been hosting and marketing live events for decades. In the age of social media, spreading the word about an event is easier — and more beneficial to your brand — than ever.
"Social media is absolutely a must-have strategy for events," said Amir Zonozi, chief strategy officer at Zoomph, a social engagement platform designed for live events. "Not only are you connecting with more people at once, but you're connecting and branding yourself, verifying your expertise to an industry and audience on a digital stage."
Based on the insights of marketing experts, here's a guide to marketing your event on social media, from creating the initial buzz to following up after the hype has died down. [Social Media Marketing Solutions for Small Businesses]
Before the event
The first step to event success is making sure people know about it. This requires a lot of planning and forethought — the worst thing you can do is wait until right before the event to start posting about it.
"You've got to be recognized, consistent and trusted," said Jamie Robinson, marketing director of energy-efficient cook and bakeware company 360 Cookware. "When a stranger walks up to you in the mall parking lot and hands you a flier, your first reaction is, 'Where's the nearest trash can?' If you have put in the work to extend your brand into the social arena, your interactions are going to be well received by your followers."
"[With a hashtag] you'll be able to track the buzz," Raybould said. "It invites people to share more leading up to the event. Hashtags help sell tickets, too — social proof moves [your event] front and center."
Raybould also noted that you need to give word-of-mouth marketing strategies ample time to work. He recommended leaving a minimum of 30 days for ticket sales to allow purchasers to talk about it and influence others to buy tickets as well.
"When people buy a ticket, make it easy for them to share that they're going," Raybould said.
During the event
You've put in the time and effort to build awareness about your event, and now you've got a ton of confirmed attendees talking about it on their social networks. But your work is far from over — what you post the day of and throughout the event is just as important as what's been said leading up to it.
"Become a commentator for the event," Zonozi said. "Live-tweet using the event hashtag and make sure you post with personality. Most live-tweeters post direct quotes from speakers, which is great — they are the speakers for a reason, but if you take a moment to marinate and give your unique spin on things, you are guaranteed to generate great engagement."
Zonozi said that photos, videos and GIFs are a great way to grab media attention because of the amount of real estate it takes up on a newsfeed. You should also retweet and respond to other people who are sharing great content, and spur genuine conversation.
Social media also optimizes your ability to network at your event, said Zonozi. You can quickly connect and identify influential individuals to focus on relationships that matter most to you.
"With every conversation, you have a cheat sheet loaded with basic information from [the person's] profile bio," Zonozi told Business News Daily. "Take advantage of this to make meaningful connections. With social media at events it's all about working smarter, not harder."
After the event
If your event-related social campaigns have been successful, you'll walk away from the event with countless tweets, status updates, photos and videos posted by the people who went. Don't let this great user-generated content go to waste — use it for further marketing purposes.
"Capitalize on all of the content by collecting it all in one place and sharing it," Zonozi said. "The more posts by other people, in one place, the better. Just make sure to tag the people from the event with their content to give them credit, then share it everywhere. The goal is to get the people you used in your article to help drive traffic back to your website. "
Robinson advised responding to anyone who mentioned or tagged your brand or event with gratitude and give them specific details about the event.
"Thank attendees for coming and use their names and tags," Robinson said. "Be gracious and give details for the next event. Those who missed it can make a note to attend the next one."
Originally published on Business News Daily