Event planning can be fun and stressful. I personally believe that you can leverage social media to ensure that all your hard work and planning doesn't go to waste. Using social media before, during and after your event can really help enrich the experience for your attendees. Need a few ideas on how to utilize social media for your next event? Well, you are in luck! Check out these four ways you can spice up your events with social media.
1. Plan and Promote
When it comes time to promote your upcoming event, you have to do more than post flyers and blast your email list. There HAS to be some sort of social element to your planning and promotion. Immediately set up an Event on Facebook and be sure to keep it managed. Facebook Events are a pretty solid base to begin promoting your shindig. When setting up your Event, be sure to fill out as much information as possible and encourage people to RSVP so you can get a feel for the possible turnout. I highly recommend inviting those that make sense and politely asking them to share the event with others. Definitely don't spam-invite people or you will annoy the heck out of them, thus they won't attend. Since you are inviting all of these folks to your Event on Facebook, it's a good idea to have some fun content within the Event page itself for them to interact with. Once everything is all set up, people are invited and content is in place, it's time to venture outside of Facebook and share the link with your other social channels. Of course, all of this information could live on your website (if you have one), however Facebook's Event feature has worked pretty well for me in the past. Promoting your event isn't a one action effort; you have to make sure that you tactfully promote your event consistently up until the event date.
2. Real Time Engagement
OK, so you planned and promoted your event and the big day has arrived. I recommend having some sort of real time social engagement during the event. Inevitably, people will be clutching their smartphones texting, tweeting, checking in and instagramming their experience. You HAVE to have someone doing it alongside them. Hopefully you have created social accounts for your event and have the ability to engage with attendees in real time. Imagine how excited YOU would be if you attended a music festival, tweeted about it and the festival tweeted you back? Acknowledgement goes a long way in the social media world, so be sure to reward the social buzz during your event with real time engagement. The more YOU engage with event attendees, the more social buzz you create. You never know who might decide to show up last minute because of what they saw on Vine, Twitter or Instagram. Having a designated hashtag for the event as a whole will centralize the discussion and make it easier for you to find the awesome conversation.
3. Listen and React
Not only does social media allow you to engage with event goers in real time, it also allows you to keep tabs on the sentiment of your crowd. You would definitely want to know if a parking situation came up or if the bathroom was gross, right? It is very likely that people would take to social channels to complain. Take time out periodically to check the social conversation to be sure nothing has gone awry. Having a dedicated hashtag can make this a bit more manageable. During events SOMETHING is sure to go wrong at some point; you have to be on top of it and ready to help turn the situation around as quickly as possible for the sake of your attendees (current and future).
4. Activate Your Attendees
This is probably my absolute favorite thing to do when trying to make events more social. If you don't have the resources to manage a social conversation during your event, why not activate a few of your attendees to do it for you? Invite people who have RSVP'ed or expressed interest in your event to come and catalog their experience via social media. This is especially useful if the event has a cover charge or tickets need to be purchased. Imagine the excitement you would feel if you were invited to go to an event for free, all you had to do was tweet about your experience while there? These people will become "social journalists" in a way and can really help stimulate the digital chatter that will make your event stand out. Hopefully, the people you select are super excited about the event itself and the opportunity. People will be posting to social anyways, however this tactic allows you to add a "super-fan" to the mix that is focused on communicating the offline experience to the online world. Plus, it won't kill you to allow a few folks in for free in return for their social effort.
These are only four of the many ways you can make your upcoming events more social. Do YOU have any creative ways that you have integrated social media into your event? Tell us in the comment section below!