Social media platforms have become indispensable for building brand awareness, boosting online presence, and expanding your customer base. There is no longer a question of whether you should use it in your event marketing strategy anymore. It can be complicated to navigate the evolving social media landscape, but if you carefully plan your strategy, you can target your audience with surgical precision. I’ve found that the most effective method of using social media in your event marketing strategy is to organize your plan into three stages: before, during, and after the event.

Before the Event

Creating buzz and interest around your event is the primary goal at this stage. Social media offers some great tools for building up excitement weeks before your big happening. According to Buffer, one of the most popular social media management tools, as much as 40% of total posts dedicated to a particular event are published before the event itself, while 42% are shared during the event. As you can see it’s almost a tie, which suggests that you should start engaging your audience way before the event takes place. Here are a couple of preparatory steps to help you get the ball rolling:

  • Building a team should be your starting point. It’s a good idea to have the same people during all three stages for the purpose of the seamless of flow and consistency. Make sure to have one person in charge per social media channel and a seasoned designer who can edit photos on the spot. A photographer or a team member with a knack for the visuals is a must because images are crucial for driving engagement on social media. For example, blog posts that average one image for every 75-100 words, receive twice as many shares as blog posts with fewer images.
  • Prioritize the most effective social media channels for your event. It’s a no-brainer that Instagram, LinkedIn, or Pinterest have impact on different types of audiences, which is why you need to put an emphasis on the platform(s) that will reach the potential attendees of your event and capture their attention.
  • Creating a strong visual identity for an event is something that many companies neglect, although this nonchalance undermines their whole concept of brand building. Let’s not forget that the human brain processes images in 13 milliseconds and that any information is more easily absorbed and remembered if accompanied by relevant images. A fresh twist on your brand design could jazz up your overall visual identity and make your event more recognizable to your audience. Make sure to align all the visual elements and make your imagery consistent throughout social media and other promotional channels.
  • A catchy, unique, memorable hashtag will help your audience easily find all the relevant information about your event in the crowded social media scene. When creating a hashtag, you should have the character limits for certain platforms in mind, and come up with something short that can be easily spelled and pronounced.
  • Did you know that 56% of social media users suffer from the fear of missing out? Tap into the power of FOMO, and create a sense of scarcity and urgency that will subconsciously urge your audience to come and participate. This phenomenon has been mastered by Apple as the company turns every iPhone launch into a spectacle that their customers don’t even dream of missing out on.
  • Create a Facebook and LinkedIn event page where your audience can find all the latest information about the upcoming event. When it comes to posting updates, I recommend not disclosing  too many details at the beginning. Always leave room for changes that might occur. For example, don’t announce that an influencer will speak at your event unless you’re 110% sure that it’s a done-deal. Besides, by slowly revealing only some tidbits of information, you’ll create an air of mystery and anticipation, and won’t run out of fresh news before the event starts.

During the Event

By the time your event starts, you’ll already have all your social media arsenal up and running. Sharing multimedia and interacting with your audience should be at the core of your during-the-event strategy, and here’s how to make the most of it:

  • Besides sharing photos of speakers together with their quotes, photos of attendees, and behind-the-scenes snaps and videos, it’s a good idea to create some kind of branded photo area or a photo booth where people can snap fun pictures and post it on their social media channels together with the branded hashtag. You can take things to a higher level and game-ify the whole experience by organizing a contest with some cool prizes.
  • Engage with your followers and attendees on social media. It’s important to answer every question about the event and respond to any complaint in a timely manner. Be helpful, own potential mistakes, and make sure to fix and acknowledge them. Instead of ignoring negative comments, address them asap and protect your brand integrity. Let your followers know that there’s an on-site support team ready to solve any issue that may arise.
  • Display social media messages on a big screen somewhere at the venue, and create an interactive experience both for the people who are attending and those who can’t make it.

After the Event

To wrap things up, recap everything that happened during your event on your social media channels.

  • Ask your audience for feedback and organize polls and surveys. This can be a great opportunity to identify what you can improve to make your next event even better.
  • Instead of providing only your own account of the event by publishing a blog post, create a narrative about your event by collecting and organizing attendees’ pictures, videos, and social media posts in a chronological manner, and let the multimedia speak for itself.
  • YouTube boasts 1.5 billion users monthly, which means that you should upload videos from your event on your channel and make them available to wider audiences.

Any successful event marketing strategy heavily relies on social media for creating the hype and spreading the word. In other words, using the synergy of social media and event marketing is a surefire way of boosting event exposure and skyrocketing attendance.

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Emma Miller is a digital marketer from Sydney. She works as a blogger, is a Senior Editor for Bizzmark blog, and a guest lecturer at Melbourne University. She's interested in digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends.