How to use social media to promote your event

January 14, 2011

If you’ve ever planned an event you’ll know that it is a challenging and complex process. There’s the venue to book, speakers to sign up – and that’s before you’ve got to the promotion of the event and the task of getting people to attend.

This is where social media comes in. Social media has transformed the way so many things are done, and events are no exception.

Using social media to plan an event will make you realise the power these platforms can give you. It vastly enlarges the reach of what you’re doing, so that it’s not just about the people in the venue, but the thousands who could be accessing it online.

Whether it’s an online or an offline event, social media ensures that all the tools you need are at your disposal to promote it, spread the word, engage with leads and make sure your event is a success before, during and after.

Here’s our guide on how to use social media to make sure your event stands out:

Before the event

So your event is planned. It’s now time to use social media to make sure that people know about it. Promoting your site using a variety of social media channels offers new and highly effective ways to market your event and ensures people can easily find you online.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as location based sites such as Facebook Places and Foursquare, are key to increasing the reach of your event and encouraging highly effective word-of-mouth promotion.

There are many options, with each site offering different advantages. If you already have active Facebook and Twitter accounts in place these can be used to promote the event, update people with information and drive conversations. If not, you can set up an event specific Twitter feed for event updates; create a Facebook page to promote the event or set up a LinkedIn group to provide information about the event. Just make sure that you choose the right platforms for your objectives, your resources and your audience.

Social networking sites (this includes your blog) are fantastic platforms for engagement and you should use them not only to promote your event but also to get your community to offer topic themes and discuss ideas prior to the event. Be proactive as well – join relevant groups and promote your event by contributing to existing conversations.

These sites should direct people to a central hub, such as a website or blog, which can be integrated with these social networking platforms. This makes it simple to inform attendees of the latest news and provide them with all the information they need for the event. The website could feature an attendee list, with links to participants’ web sites and Twitter feeds, as well as a link to the event’s Facebook page. A link could be also be provided to a YouTube search results page providing videos that are relevant to discussions taking place. This type of activity ensures that attendees are engaged long before the event itself takes place.

During the event

To make your event one that people remember there are many innovative things you can do with social media.

Let’s start with the basics: don’t forget to have a unique hash tag for the event. A Twitter search widget can be used to show a real-time feed of all the posts using the specific conference hash tag. Using this hash tag gets people engaged with the event and allows you to easily monitor conversations. Most importantly it allows you to be an active participant in what is being said and drive conversations.  This could be projected on to screens throughout the venue. You can also use your website to aggregate these posts in real-time before, during and after the event.

Using geo-location services such as Facebook Places, Foursquare or Gowalla is another attractive option for an event. You can create a special venue on Foursquare for the event which offers tips and advice to attendees. You can also create multiple locations within the one venue so that you know exactly where people are. Plus, if you have organised a large event you can partner with Foursquare to create a badge and offer incentives for checking in.

There are many other features which could be utilised to enhance your event. This could be through an audio feed, with podcasts of certain sessions being made available after the event; a live video feed of the event could be streamed on your website and seeded on relevant sites; or you could create a Flickr badge on your website which links to tagged photos.

When it come to online events such as webinars, live webcasts or digital fairs it’s crucial to keep people informed. Send reminders (particularly in the lead up before the event) and make it easy for people to find by using LinkedIn Twitter and Facebook to link to the event URL. Post tweets in the build-up to the event to keep it front of mind and encourage people to send questions for the speakers or panellists. You can also stream your webcast through your Facebook page.

After the event

It’s vital that after the event is over that you use social networks to engage with everyone who attended. Using social media is a great way to keep in touch with all your attendees as well as gain valuable feedback so that you can refine what you will do next time.

Use the information and platforms you have to continue communication with the attendees. Thank them for attending, provide them with updates and information. You can upload the presentation from the event and write a blog post that highlights comments and questions that arose during the event.  You can also upload your webinar to YouTube or embed it on your Facebook page.

Again use the LinkedIn group as a platform for discussion and encourage debate. Attendees can use the group to discuss the event and topics that were raised before the event. In this way you can turn a group of attendees into a community.

Finally, and most importantly, listen to your audience – ask for feedback or create polls. Follow conversations on Twitter using a unique event hashtag to find out their opinions: find out what was good and what could be improved. Address their needs and become involved in the conversations. You’ll be able to use this information to shape future events and improve the event experience for all your attendees.

So, there you have it. No matter what type of event you are running, the array of options social media offers means that it is the perfect solution to promote and complement your event.


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