With the digital era, events don’t just mean sending out invites, than guests turning up, enjoying it, leaving and waiting in anticipation for the next one anymore. Nowadays, the experience starts well before the event and often can continue on well after the event is finished. The accounting and technology conference Xerocon is a great example of this where there is a lot of online hype about the event well before it’s begun. Lots of people utilise the event hashtag to interact with others, many people blog about attending it and many exhibitors produce content to draw attraction to visit their stand during the event.
Social media has become a great tool to amplifier this hype and create a sense of belonging and attendance before anyone has event reached the physical event. It provides the opportunity to connect with an event deeply, for longer and at different times. Here are some ways to use social media and wider technology can help bring your event to life, online and on the ground:
1. Organising an event
RSVP responses tend to be a lot higher online than through traditional mediums, as they usually involve much less effort. Event organisers can see who’s attending at a glance and easily send out online reminders.
Ask people to suggest or vote for the keynote speaker, headline band, who they want to hear or see etc, creating an online buzz right from registration.Promoting an Event
2. Create an event listing
Whether it be on Facebook, Google +, or Eventbrite, creating an online listing or listings helps make events more discoverable and reach people outside your immediate networks.
Integrating social media with your registration and encouraging attendees to share your event is a great source of free promotion. You could also create an incentive around it to encourage it, like a discount or bring a friend deal, if cost is involved.
Most events these days incorporate a hashtag as they make it easy for everyone to engage and follow the social chatter around the event and also interact with other attendees. Make sure this hashtag is on all of the comms of the event, the event listing, invites and material so it’s known about and can be effectively utilised. Also do some research on your hashtag to make sure it’s not an abbreviation or anagram for anything else and that it’s not used by anyone else.
3. Enhancing the Live Experience
Encourage discussion by offering prizes for the most engaged attendees. Things like tweet of the day, most retweeted etc.
Live streaming the event online can extend your audience reach. Apps like Periscope and Meerkat make it easy to reach a large audience. You can also utilise apps to screen the social channels the event is active on in communal areas of the event to visually remind people to engage.
Regardless of what type of event you’re running, visually reminding people during the event of social media channels/handles and the event hashtag is important to keep it front of mind. If you’re having guest speakers, making their social media channels known is great way to encourage ongoing participation. Whether it be on stands, on presentation slides, banners or even on the back of toilet stalls there’s a way to remind people to engage socially throughout the event.
Encouraging and incentivising people to check-in your event is great at extending its reach. If you’re running a large event, you could encourage people to check-in at different locations around the venue to help ensure they get the full experience of the event and don’t miss anything out.
Anyone having difficulties or last minute issues prior or during the event often utilise social media channels to ask questions. Ensuring someone is on hand to answer these as they arise, will help people with the overall event experience.
4. Extending the Value of an Event
Sharing Event Content
Uploading highlights to YouTube or Vimeo to share, will remind attendees of what a great event it was and encourage those that missed out to attend next time. Creating a blog post or sharing presentations will make your event discoverable even after it’s finished.
Monitoring the social channels and hashtag after the event can help gather feedback on the event. Also sending out a digital survey (which of course you can incentivise for people to fill out) will help you gage what worked, what didn’t and what you can improve on for next time.
Continue your Momentum
No doubt you would of built up new followers/fans and some great social interaction throughout the event. Making sure you keep this momentum going and engage with these people frequently will help ensure they attend the next one. Make the conversation less about you, and more about the common experience of the event.
The feeling of participation and engagement is what people will remember, keep them coming back and act as advocates for your event!