Engaging with your participants and building your brand is an egg that all event directors want to crack, and in the age of social media, doing just this is easier than you might think.
Where to Start?
It seems new social media platforms are cropping up every day, so it can be hard to choose the right ones, but there are the heavy hitters that have proven staying power: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Each platform is good for certain things, so it’s important that your event have an account on each one. Different people will also prefer different platforms for communicating, so while one person may email you, another will want to message through Facebook, and another person may send you a tweet. This seems like a lot of work, but there are excellent tools out there, like HootSuite, that allow you to connect all your social media platforms.
Facebook is a great platform for more in-depth information. People will likely come to your event page for critical information, but having information repeated across multiple channels is a good idea which can help limit participant confusion, and the volume of questions you need to field. Facebook is also great for event updates that will stick. You can announce a food vendor, or a new sponsor, and people will be able to scroll through your recent posts to see this information.
Here is an excellent example of the Grand Prix of Gloucester’s Facebook page:
Twitter is an excellent platform for up-to-the-minute engagement with your participants. While you are limited in the amount of text you can write, this lends itself to quick updates, and conversational interaction with your participants. Many events will use twitter to ‘live-tweet’ their events, so it’s a great tool to use on event day.
Twitter uses a concept called hashtags, which is a way of grouping together selections of tweets. You can create a hashtag by using the hash sign (#) and then following it up with a word or catchphrase. Hashtags can be used by anyone, so as your event promotion gains momentum, your participants will begin to use this hashtag to refer to your event. Hashtags are also a fantastic way to see what people are saying or posting about your event, even as it is happening!
Instagram is your go-to for visual media. While Twitter is dominated by text, Instagram is its twin in images. Instagram is a good platform for sharing up-to-the-minute information to get people excited for your event. On event day, Instagram is a unique tool that will allow you to catalog all the goings-on at your event. Like Twitter, you can use a hashtag to group pictures, and if this hashtag is well-established before event day, your participants will use it as well, giving you some great shots of people enjoying themselves at your event!
Social Media Success
If you’ve followed these steps so far, you are on your way to having a comprehensive social media strategy. Once your accounts and hashtags are established your next job is to start using them! Accounts that are active will grow faster and be a more reliable resource for your participants, so get out there and start posting!