Think of the last branded event you created and the engagement tool you used.
Whether it was a trade show, industry event, or conference, chances are you started engaging with participants via social media weeks before you ever did in person.
Perhaps you joined a LinkedIn Group to get the dialogue rolling, or maybe you used hashtags in your tweets in anticipation of the event.
Regardless of the method, using social media before and during an event is a great engagement tool.
But it’s easy to get so caught up in the pre-event social component—tracking hashtags; getting real-time feedback on attendees’ expectations via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; and setting up a page for participants to like—that you forget about the importance of riding the social media train into the future.
In fact, only about 61 percent of marketers use social media to connect with attendees after events. In comparison, nearly 80 percent of marketers use social media before events, and 71 percent use social media during events.
As a marketer, it’s important to understand the best practices of continuing to use social media long after your attendees have returned home to increase engagement with customers and maximize return-on-investment.
Post-event Engagement Tool
Here are four important ways to keep the conversation alive.
- Get hashtag heavy. The “quality over quantity” rule definitely applies to hashtags. Stay heavy on hashtags, but only as far as their prevalence and brand alignment go. Choose a hashtag for the event, and plaster it in the corners of presentation decks, on brochures, on branded items. Encourage hashtag use for contests and giveaways, and you’ll also incentivize attendees to use them and engage. For example, SxSW took place more than three months ago in Austin, Texas, but the event’s Twitter and hashtag are still alive and pushing out engaging content to continue conversations. The event is a year-round influencer, so its social presence is also active 365 days a year.
- Give attendees their 15 minutes of fame. Sharing photos and videos from events is a sure way to keep guests actively engaged. Attendees will be excited to see themselves in your content, and it can be a great way to remind them to continue to network. Recapturing photo and video continues the conversation with individual guests while also spreading brand ambassadorship to their broader social networks.
- Make it a competition. Contests, games, and sweepstakes are a solid way to engage with attendees. By incentivizing the conversation, you can heighten the benefit on both sides of the brand-and-attendee equation, boosting the win-win component of the dialogue.
- Instill a sense of community. Inviting attendees to engage after the event promotes a sense of community around your brand. For example, Jimmy Fallon is an expert at making people feel like they belong to a larger group. He starts conversations around his brand by creating videos that are shared hundreds of thousands of times. The audience for these videos may not even be aware of the brand loyalty they’re demonstrating because his videos are so organically shareable.
Social media is certainly a powerful tool to use during an event, but its power only increases afterward.
During the event, it culls together like-minded, amped-up participants to engage in real time.
But post-event, social media has the power to keep your brand top of mind for the customer—increasing her likelihood of further engaging with and purchasing from your brand in the future.