Eppie Shepherd, Proposal Writer, Banks Sadler
Social media has become a staple part of events. From cake sales to conferences, almost every event has been branded with a hashtag. Did you know that the most used hashtag last year was #Rio2016? However having an online presence doesn’t automatically reap rewards. Social networks are saturated with short-lived content uploaded every single second, which means that standing out from the crowd requires a thought out strategy. To help you get the most out of your social media event promotion, we’ve created a detailed guide so you can save valuable time and give your profiles the competitive edge.
Firstly we need to understand the value of social media
Before you can use anything successfully, you have to understand its importance and value. So why is social media key for events? Apart from creating awareness, hype and helping to sell tickets, social media can additionally allow you to build lasting relationships with customers and clients as well as offer an insight into their behaviours and interests.
It can be hard to convince your manager that spending 30 minutes on social media is actually work, but if you devote that time to researching your audience and connecting with customers, the benefits will be evidential.
Let’s look at some statistics. At the end of last year, it was recorded that over 317 million users actively use Twitter every month, two-thirds of which have discovered a new small-medium business through the timeline. A whopping 94% of these people planned to purchase from one of these new businesses, with 64% already having done so. That’s a lot of people who could be interested in your event…
Now to understand the social networks
So where to start? Well, firstly it’s important to know the differences between each of the key social networks and recognises their individual benefits.
Take Pinterest and LinkedIn for example. Both have an average of 100 million users but the audience is very different. Pinterest is a very visual network, known as the place to go for the party and recipe inspiration (and of course the secret wedding boards) yet LinkedIn, on the other hand, is used by a more mature network of professionals.
When it comes to event promotion and social media, you’ll need to consider which networks are suitable for your content and the voice of your event:
- Mostly used by millennials
- Users are very information orientated – technology, sports, marketing, news etc.
- Perfect for lots of short and snappy content with visuals
- Great way to connect with other businesses by easily tagging them in tweets
- Can post up to 20 times a day
- Suitable for most kind of events intended for the public eye from festivals to exhibitions
- The most saturated social media in events
- Widely used across all ages on a regular basis
- Have own events feature for inviting guests, tracking attendance and updating information
- Best for longer more in-depth content
- Good to post 1-3 times a day
- Suitable for most kinds of B2C events
- Mostly used by millennials
- Used for high-quality visual content
- Instagram Stories provides live and behind the scenes opportunities
- Suitable for photogenic events such as art, fashion and food themes
- Can post 1-2 times a day but more so on Stories
- Change to a business account for analytics and to add your contact details (requires a Facebook page)
- Mostly used by professionals
- Used for businesses and networking
- Best for more professional promotion and sharing informative posts
- Can post 1-3 times a day
- Suitable for B2B events
- Mostly used by women
- Best for visual content, how to guides, infographics and imagery
- Can post up to 20 times a day
- Suitable for events around fitness, DIY, food, crafts etc.
- Mostly used by millennial women
- Best for life, behind the scenes content
- Can post up to 10 times a day
- Suitable for larger public events
Once you have selected the networks for your event, you’ll then want to set them up using our quick three-step plan:
Each network profile offers an ‘about’ section, one of the first things people will see when they come to your account. Here you’ll want to provide a short but informative impression including a one-sentence description of your event, the date, the location and a link to your website. On some social media profiles such as Facebook, you’ll have more flexibility with the length of characters and be able to provide more of a description.
You’ll also want a profile picture (normally your event logo) and a cover photo on Facebook and Twitter. The cover can be anything from a previous year’s event image to a festival line up. There are different sizes required for each of these images and the simplest way to get it right is to use Canva… but more on that later.
You should come up with a hashtag for your event which you can use across social media and encourage guests to use before, during and after. It can be used to spread awareness and unite conversations about your event. For example, by clicking on your hashtag on Instagram, you can see (and potentially share) every guest’s photo of your event.
The hashtag should be relatively short and of course not already be in use – always search your ideas first! Examples include The Meeting Show #TMS17 and Wireless Festival #WirelessFest. Once you have created your hashtag, you can use it on each of your social media networks in posts and imagery. Once at the event, guests can be encouraged to use the hashtag in their posts which will increase external awareness.
With each of these networks, it is important to provide quality content that will reflect your event’s personality. For LinkedIn, this will be professionally voiced information, versus Snapchat which sees fun exclusive video footage receive the best results.
Knowing what to post, when
Now you have your profiles, its time to think about the content. Whilst we’ve talking about what content sits best on which network, it’s also important to remember to not be too promotional. Share other relevant informative posts and encourage conversations with your followers. Interaction is key to gaining engagement which will, in turn, increase your exposure to more consumers.
Remember when we mentioned Canva for creating your profile images? Well, this site will be your go-to for any imagery, infographics and design work that is needed for your social media. There are a huge amount of templates for every network with professional designs ready to be personalised. It is a great tool for Pinterest images, banners, Instagram posts with text and more.
Social media can be time-consuming however with the help of scheduling apps like Buffer, Later and Hootsuite you can schedule a week or months’ worth in one session rather than having to think about posting frequently throughout the day.
Below is a summary of the most popular scheduling platforms you can use:
On each of these platforms, it is worth downloading the app and icons for your internet browser so that you can easily schedule content on the go. It is also worth noting that you can schedule posts on Facebook directly on the platform.
When to post
There are many articles that discuss the best times to post and how frequently on each social network but the best time is when your followers are most engaged and active. This will, of course, depend on each individual account but you can get a rough idea from your activity and analytics. For example, an Instagram business account provides an insight into when your followers are online, showing the best times to post each day. For the rest of the platforms, it comes down to common sense. Think about when you are most likely to go on social media… probably during your morning and evening commute, at lunchtime or weekend mornings? Perhaps for business accounts, there will also be an activity during office hours but not so much during the weekend.
Now we’ve discussed creating your own personalised hashtag, but what about the others? There is an endless amount of analytics and information about hashtags that can be seriously overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed it down to the basics.
Hashtags are used for two main networks; Instagram and Twitter.
On Twitter, you’ll be looking to use no more than three hashtags, preferably one of which is your own. You’ll then look to find popular tags that are used by consumers, helping you to appear in search results. A good way to start is looking at competitors, the news, your location and find a list of relevant ones to keep.
Next is Instagram, this is where things can be a bit more confusing as you want to use tags that are popular, but not used by a million or so accounts as you’ll just get lost in the crowd.
You can use up to 30 hashtags on one Instagram photo, keeping one spot for your own which will go in the photo’s caption. Stick the rest in a comment straight after you post your image to keep it looking tidy.
Now there’s no simple way to find the right hashtags on Instagram. Again look at competitors and click on each hashtag where you’ll see how many photos are currently using it and a list of similar tags. If the number is greater than 6-700,000 it’s not worth using. Similarly, you don’t want to use tags with less than 5,000. Think about locations, themes and creativity when researching. For example, if you’re a travel event then tap into the hashtags that travel bloggers might be using such as #sharetravelpics and #ttot.
Another way to use hashtags is to feature on a larger account. For example, Time Out London reposts images of the city that use the #timeoutlondon hashtag. This will expose your photo to their followers who may well click to your account.
To save you a lot of time, create a list of hashtags in your notes, categorising them so that you can simply copy and paste as soon as you post. It’s important to update them every few months as of course, each will grow rapidly, a hashtag that started with 400,000 images might well add up to 700,000 over a couple of months.
HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA PRE, DURING, POST EVENT
The following infographic provides a beginning to end guide on how to use social media during your event.
Understanding how to measure the benefits
It’s important to always measure the benefits of your social media throughout your event schedule. Some content may prove to be more popular as well as posting at certain times. You can then adjust your strategy as you go. The easiest way to measure the success of your social media is by engagement; seeing how many likes, comments and shares each post receives. Most importantly for events where you might need to drive ticket sales, for example, you should always track the content that drives the most conversions and then adjust accordingly for your future strategy. There are a number of ways to do this. Firstly are the in-app analytics. Each network has an analytics page that will show an insight into your reach, engagement and follow. Some are great, like Instagram for example, but some like Twitter show minimal information.
A great way to see how many clicks you’re receiving from social media is in your website’s Google Analytics. There is a specific area for social traffic where you can see which network and even which posts gained the most clicks. Another easy way to use this is to use a link shortener such as Bit.ly.
As discussed previously, scheduling platforms such as Buffer and Tailwind are also fantastic for measuring growth and engagement rates and are worth investing in for a paid subscription.