Note: do have a look at our "partner" post to this "Communications... that communicate" which is a more lengthy article about communications in general. You can view that here.
Social Media is ubiquitous in Events. So it's worthwhile pointing out a few things to keep in mind in its use.
What we're also going to point out is "Social" media, in our view, is anything that allows a conduit of engagement with your attendees (or Sponsors!).
So don't ignore that offline stuff: that's your posters, collateral, and related. Newspapers may seem passe these days, but they're still part of the outreach - don't relegate them to being less important just because it's "not cool with the kids these days"!
Always consider audience age groups when deciding what to use, and how to use it: content is definitely king here. Make it meaningful to your audience to make the connections, and you'll increase awareness and engagement.
Social Media channels
Facebook: clearly a platform most people are comfortable with, and with great tools for keeping track of who is visiting, how they're visiting (desktop, mobile), what times of day they're doing so and much more. Of course, advertising, paid sponsor placement and much more are also options you might consider.
Twitter: Perhaps a more "up to the minute" way of keeping people in the loop. Use of Hashtags (#MyEvent etc) and more goes without saying. Just bear in mind that you should consider what hashtags to use carefully, so as to not confuse people, or make it difficult to engage with your attendees.
Pinterest: Basically for posting pictures, a great place to showcase photos and a place even for attendees to contribute if you allow it...
Instagram: Also primarily for posting pictures, another place to showcase what's takng place...
Flipboard: You may not be aware of this article-based outlet, but it's gained in significant popularity. An idea for use in a specific event could be to highlight key articles from Sponsors, and much more. Make a principal Sponsor the Cover Story for a specific day! You can check out our own Flipboard Magazine our here
...and we're going to stop right there. The reason will become clear...
Clearly there's a whole heap of channels to reach people out there, and you could go on for months about it... but, one of the primary keys to social media is having a comprehensive plan and overview of how people are engaging, and why. That's where a real understanding on why you should be using Analytics comes in.
Various tools (such as Facebook and Twitter) have very specific dashboards (that collection of stats to hopefully drill down into data better - although admittedly this sometimes confuses people more it has to be said! Enter Analytics specialists to turn that data into actual useful information! for this).
Others are less developed on this front, but there are other tools aggregate the analytics so you can obtain a clearer "big picture" view of how your channels are working for you (or not, as the case may be, in which case you'd tweak various aspects of them to suit.
How people engage
How users interact is more than just about considering what platform they engage with. It's also about considering the levels of engagement. Online, there are typically three key ways we interact (but it's still applicable elsewhere) which are: passive, active, engaged.
Passive communication is about observing and listening to what people say about you or your product. Active is where there is some communication back, but in someone else's space. It might be a Forum you are monitoring, but it takes place on someone elses platform (their account, in other words) and you post a link to something that answers a question on it. Engaged is where you actively put up your own Social Media account, and directly interact with users. It is where you take a very direct, active hand in both driving and guiding the communications to and from your audience and the forum in which this all takes place.
Working out the levels of engagement with your audience depends on your event.
Use a calendar to plan your social media posts... but don't be a slave to it.
Work out a rough guide though, and alternate between the types of posts you do: don't make it all about you either. So what we mean by that also is make the posts elicit meaningful engagement, not posting for the sake of posting.
"Content is king!" they say, except when it's content... for the sake of content. To put it another way, you don't need filler. To put it in yet another light, ever visited someone regularly? Pretty soon it isn't too much of a surprise, special event or something similar. Same rule should apply to posts in a lot of ways.
Our "Rough Guide" goes something like this...
- 1 x Service-specific Posting
This is generally further subdivided into 1 x Call to Action, 1 x B2B, 1 x B2C)
- 1 x Industry-specific article
Perhaps of use to the wider Industry, usually covering a specific problem/question
- 1 x General Interest article
Typically covering some broader Event-related topic maybe, perhaps something generally notable happening like a show...
- 1 x Our own General Commentary Item on a specific issue
Our own "Soft Sell" where we highlight our ability to solve the problem without direct selling to readers. We illustrate, instead, a problem and how we went about solving it.
It comes out, generally speaking, as 1 significant post per week, over a given month, give-or-take. And each week is slightly different. Anything in between, depends on what happens during the week! The point is: we're not going to be clubbing people over the head, all the time.
Coming up with "Sticky" material
"Sticky" as a concept broadly speaking grew from the Web industry and pertained mostly to content which makes people hang around on the pages - this counted for a lot in the old days. It still does, to a certain extent, but there's now so many more ways to measure "success" than just users of your content sticking around on pages.
With the advent of things like faster internet speeds, a raft of different devices that people use to access and enjoy content, the "stickiness" of a post, or maybe it's better put as that which attracts a user to the conent, is dependent also on the manner in which it's presented.
And so now, we have video, messaging, more intelligently targeted follow-up content, you get the picture (almost literally, right?). Articles, blogs, they can incorporate all of the above and more... oh, merely sticking around on pages might also be the last thing you want: maybe you need them to move off that page and onto purchasing something after all!
So when you look at your analytics tonight, pay special attention to what engaged the different audiences you speak to out there, what reached them the most, what they engaged with... what finally motivated them to purchase from you, or engage in a campaign, or come along to hear someone speak? Then, do more of that, but in a careful way still, without overstepping the mark and making people feel like they're being harassed.
Incidentally, that brings us to...
When you've got something to say, the quality should always carry the value proposition, not the quantity of it...
I'm sure you've caught yourself at least once or twice thinking of something great that happened to you, or maybe something that someone gave you, which may not have been the biggest or most expensive thing - but it still carried the most weight, it stood out in your memory for some reason.
Simple: because it meant something, there was thought put into it. Same principle.
It can be confusing to decide what tool to use, when to use it, how to use it.
Figure out what your audiences want from you, not what the latest trend is. It's tempting to want it all, but that can just swamp people and obscure what it is that is truly remarkable about you. You become just another part of the noise...
As noted Event specialist Julian Solaris raises in a post "More, More and more" on the excellent Event Managers Blog platform (a simply great repository of ideas, insights, trends and numerous guides for pros and learners alike by the way, do check out the blog, and the specific post itself, here):
"Are you giving your attendees too many choices? As much as that may make you feel better with your conscience, a monumental amount of research says otherwise.
"But it works so well for us." Really?
Sheena Iyengar and Barry Schwartz have written two very successful books on how we live in the illusion that more choice is better. I just finished reading their books, and I invite you to do the same."
He goes on to posit that for we Event people, our "more" should be in more meaning. More for the sake of more? Hmmm. Not necessarily good folks.
There's no need to be too slick for your own good. Sometimes the best eating experience is in the most unassuming surroundings. The concentration should be on the satisfying the real need, not a trend.
We're here to help you get through the details!
Do get in touch if you need help, we're only too happy to do so!