You’ve spent a lot on your event. The content is ready. The stage is set. Now you’re just hoping for some good social engagement from your attendees to take it to the next level.
Needless to say, the stakes are high.
Social engagement is a vital part of any corporate event strategy—before, during, and after the event. A good social engagement strategy can help drive brand awareness and deliver a better return on all that money spent on a killer event. But event hashtags and location check-ins are just table stakes these days. If you really want to create something memorable, you need to step your game up.
Here are five refreshing ways you can improve social media engagement during your events.
Sell with Social
Have you ever heard of a Twitter-powered vending machine? Turns out, you can immediately reward attendees for using your event hashtag. You can fill a special vending machine with desirable event swag and the only cost to get an item is to send a tweet including your event hashtag and dedicated Twitter handle. Once the machine recognizes the tweet, hashtag, and handle, the gift is automatically released! It’s a rewarding way to get more social engagement and give attendees more reasons to share their gifts and experiences on social media.
If you have the budget to offer attendees something that’s truly valuable in exchange for interaction with your brand, you’re bound to get a great boost to your social profiles. According to the Social Media Examiner, “Westin Hotels’ National Running Day-themed machine drove 183,000 impressions and 15,000 engagements with content mentioning the brand or campaign hashtags.”
Live to Live Stream
A good rule of thumb for events is to capture everything. Thanks to live streaming’s mass popularization, that’s never been easier. Don’t worry if a videographer isn’t in your budget; a team member with a love of Facebook Live or Instagram Stories can still get the job done.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room: live streaming seems counterintuitive. If you want people to attend your event, and be really present once they’re through the doors, why post a stream of the entire thing online?
As the Swapcard blog says, “The answer is you don’t. Your live streaming should be a teaser trailer, not the entire event.” Is your goal to get people to buy tickets for the next day of your weekend-long event, or get on the wait list for the next one? Provide something that’s useful, exciting, and that people are likely to share.”
Again from Swapcard: “Don’t just tell them about the awe-inspiring speakers your event has, include a live stream of an interview or keynote speech.” This will give viewers a taste of what they want—and the knowledge that they have to be there in-person to get the full experience.
As you stream, make sure to constantly interact with your viewers. Oracle recently did this by live streaming their Modern Customer Experience conference’s keynote speaker. Non-attendees could watch the speech in real-time, and better yet, leave questions and live chat with designated Oracle social media representatives.
Image courtesy of Oracle
This tactic created a flurry of social engagement on Twitter and provided the Oracle staff with key questions to ask during the Q&A section that may not have been voiced from the live audience. It enhanced the conference’s value by incorporating the opinions and questions of those who were unable to physically attend the conference.
Strike a Pose
Having a photo booth—or GIF booth, if you’re really fancy—isn’t just fun for attendees. It’s also an opportunity for guests to immediately share their experience with your brand and get people at home to follow along. HubSpot employed The Danger Booth to turn a traditional photo booth into a headshot opportunity for each attendee. Conferences are a great place to network and sprucing up your professional headshot is a timely and valuable activity. By making this available to their attendees, the photo booth generated over 4,000 images!
Image courtesy of The Danger Booth
People love to share a great picture of themselves, so naturally these headshots were shared on social media and tagged with the event hashtag. This level of social engagement indicated enthusiasm around the unconventional photo booth and boosted HubSpot’s credibility with its potential audience as they offered something its attendees needed and wanted in a convenient way.
If you want to really optimize social sharing, add your event’s hashtag to the corner of each photo. That way, curious scrollers on social media can click through and see other content from the day. Plus, people who are reminiscing on the day later will be able to find and share the posts more easily.
If people are already at your event, you need to give them a good reason to check your social media channels throughout the day. Exclusive, behind-the-scenes content is the perfect way to boost social engagement from attendees.
The Next Web hosted a recent conference in Amsterdam and gave followers a behind-the-scenes view that could only be seen across their social channels. They displayed videos featuring celebrities and even cross-promoted social sharing across their various platforms by referring people to their Snapchat and Twitter accounts for even more backstage action. This drove impressive engagement and increased the conference’s visibility while it was happening.
— #TNW2018 (@TNWconference) May 27, 2016
Not sure what to post? Trying showing your speakers getting ready before they go onstage, your production crew prepping the after party, and your caterers plating some particularly delicious snacks. These tidbits will make attendees excited for what’s to come and give those who forgot to get a ticket a sense of what they’re missing.
Do it Live
Panels are the perfect opportunity to get questions and feedback from the audience in real-time.
“When we get requests to integrate social media into the AV or presentations of an event, we usually direct our clients to applications like Tagboard or Everwall,” Michael Judeh, Regional Director of Technology at Convene, told us. “Both allow you to input hashtags related to the event, and then collect all posts using that hashtag across multiple social media platforms for display in a customizable display dashboard.”
According to Judeh, this type of presentation is effective because it lets attendees know that their posts are being noticed, which encourages more participation. This leads to more activity on the screens, rather than a couple of occasional posts.
Give ‘Em Something to Talk About
These days, social engagement is a bit of an arms race—unless you’re offering something new that people haven’t seen before, they won’t be busting out their phones to snag a picture or talk about it. That’s a heavy burden, but it should also be encouraging. Don’t be afraid to try something new. It’s the only way to stick out from the crowd—and attract one of your own.