No one wants to put on an event that is considered a failure – either by the attendees or management. And like everything else in life, it’s all a balancing act between time, money, goals, and priorities. It’s good to remember too that just because something doesn’t “cost” anything in dollars, it does not mean that it won’t require other resources, such as time.

Social media is a good example of this. Yes, you can use Twitter or Facebook for “free” since you don’t need to pay for an account. However, as you may know from the time you spend on your Smartphone, it certainly does require time. Occasionally, a great deal of it.

So, let’s take a look at how to maximize your event social media – keeping both time and money in mind.

Should You Automate?  

On the surface it may seem like the key to your event social media is automation, when it comes to both spreading the word and supporting your event in real time, and there are a number of applications that can help you do just that. A few of the better known ones are:

  • Tweetdeck
  • Hootsuite
  • Buffer

At the basic levels these tools can make it easy to spread the word across multiple platforms at one time, schedule your posts, and even gather some analytics. Sounds good. However, once people discover the joy of automation across platforms, if overused in certain ways, it can actually cut into the success of your posts. The reason is simple: social media is social.

Being social requires that you don’t just blast out your marketing and ideas without listening to other people’s ideas – just like an actual in-person conversation. The danger in too much automation is that it’s all one way. It’s simply too easy to write a bunch of posts, schedule them and then forget about it. But some automation can help you stay on track, help make best use of time, and help you build a cohesive social conversation leading up to your event because you can plan out everything ahead of time and schedule it out in a consistent manner – which is better than the “when I get to it” method. So by all means do automate some of your social media, but keep these cautions and tips in mind:

  1. Don’t be overly repetitive with the same message.
  2. You still need to have a real person monitor your social media and respond accordingly.
  3. You should create separate posts for your different channels – how many characters you can post and the type of audience is different for each channel, so more specific targeted messages and responses in each channel will help maximize your social media.
  4. You should make sure you schedule regular high-quality posts that need to go out at certain times, such as big announcements.
  5. It’s not a good idea to automate direct messages – you must have an active real person responding to direct messages.
  6. Think of automation as support for your social media presence, not the mainstay of your presence.  Bottom line:  you can’t fake a real-time presence, and that is what social media is all about.

3 Event Social Media Keys   

Hashtags are key. Use event hashtags in your posts and also have them prominent on your event website and social media pages.

  • Plus, include them in printed materials and emails so potential attendees know what to search for and how they can see what others are posting about your event.
  • Additionally, speakers can include event hashtags on any presentation material such as slides.

Make it easy for attendees to connect and spread the word on social media. There are a lot of ways you can make it quick and easy for your attendees to participate and help you spread the word about your event via social media.

  • Your event mobile app should include social media functions.
  • All your social media channels should have information and links to your event site.
  • Someone on the event staff should be responsible for participating in and contributing to active conversations.
  • Offer incentives to attendees who are the most active posters.
  • Stream your social media live during your event from your site and display it via a video wall – everyone loves to see their tweets live up on a big screen.
  • During your event you must make sure that everyone has great WiFi access. Poor WiFi can kill your event and certainly your social media. Simply put, if they have to wait to get online, or they keep losing access, they are not going to post.

Post about the right things. The key to posting is to keep in mind what your event attendees want to hear about. Some good examples are:

  • Leading up to the event, have your speakers contribute interesting tidbits about their upcoming talks.
  • Support and create active conversations focused on topics that are important to your audience
  • Encourage questions (and then answer!) via social media, which makes it easy for people to see what questions have been asked and answered.
  • Encourage event suggestions both before and during the event and then accommodate as many as you can. Nothing makes people happier than making a suggestion and then seeing that someone has listened and taken action. The fact that it’s publicized on social media makes you look even better.
  • Post content that is important and relevant to your target audience and think in terms of solving their pain points even before the first day of the event. This helps both your attendees and your branding.

Beyond following some of the suggestions above to maximize the social media for your next event, the most important thing to keep in mind about social media for your event is that it creates a unique opportunity to interact with and engage your customers – often in real time. This allows you to get direct input and feedback so you can constantly improve your products and services.  This is better for you, and always better for those you serve.