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Don’t End Up with These Social Media Regrets When Launching an Event

By Kelvin Newman

Events were the origin of social media. They bring people together with similar interests to meet, share knowledge and help each other learn. A lot like social media. Despite these similarities it’s easy to launch an event and end up with social media regrets.

Social media for events regret

Most event managers I know are wise to the importance of social media. That doesn’t mean they’ve covered every eventuality, though.

I come from a social media background. I was running social media campaigns long before I started organising conferences and exhibitions. Despite this background I have made dozens of social media faux-pas’ over the years. I want to help you avoid the mistakes I made along the way.

Forgot the Back Channel

It’s a peculiar term - the back channel. But a term all event managers must be familiar with it.

The back-channel is the conversations going on about your event in social channels.

You might not have the same audience as American Idol or X-Factor but there are similarities to your event. People are sharing their opinions, insights and asides whilst watching the watching. People are doing the same about your event.

Perhaps you don’t think your audience is using social media. Trust me they are.

You can keep track of the back channel by encouraging your audience to label their conversations using a hashtag. A hashtag will help you keep track of the conversation about your event on sites like Twitter and Instagram.

You need your hashtag to be obvious and well communicated. This is where most events fail, they end up with three or four different variations. That’s before people start making typos or spelling mistakes in their tweets.

Didn’t Plan for the Worst

I’d like to pretend every event I’ve ever organised went perfectly to plan. There were never any mistakes or slips ups by me or my team. That would be a lie. No matter how well polished you are, you will make mistakes.

With social you need to expect these issues and plan accordingly. It’s not much fun for your dedicated social media person if they have to spend all the event thinking on their feet.

Anticipate your most likely issues and have a communication plan. What happens if there’s huge traffic delays? Or the wi-fi falls over? Or your keynote pulls out?

It’s not nice thinking about everything that could go wrong with your event. But knowing what to do when it goes wrong makes dealing with the crisis much easier.

It’s About Customer Service as well as Content Marketing

I’ve always done quite well at marketing our events through social media. We set clear objectives about registration or viral spread during the event. These can be powerful and help us grow our event.

Reality is, most people follow our event account to find things out like "where our networking drinks" or "where are speakers slides". These have more in common with customer service queries than ‘content marketing’.

I’ve found people with a background in in customer service often make great social media or community managers. They’re great at diffusing difficult situations and spotting patterns in feedback. Then giving advice on improving situations in the future.

Didn’t Take Advantage of Our Success

I’m lucky some of our events have done well on social media. We’ve had event hashtags trending all across the UK. This can be exhilarating on the day but might not help us the rest of the year.

We asked ourselves how can we use this positive attention on one day a year to help us year round.

One simple thing that worked well was marking as favourite positive feedback on Twitter.

Why favourite the nice things people were saying? It allowed us after the event to keep track of great things out attendees where saying about our events. These make great testimonials. We could then embed these tweets (with the names and faces of the people saying them) in our website.

These are really believable and really helped us out.

In Conclusion

A lot of event managers have got really good at social media marketing but that doesn't mean they're doing everything perfectly. There's lots of room for improvement where you can really stand out from the crowd.

about the author

Kelvin Newman
is the Founder of Rough Agenda, a company that arranges specialist digital marketing events which are among the fastest growing and most popular in the UK, including the sell out BrightonSEO.In 2014 Kelvin was voted by econsultancy as the most influential individual in digital and in 2013 won the Search Personality award at the UK Search Awards.He is also Co-founder of clockworkTalent with Natasha Woodford a specialist recruitment consultancy that genuinely understands digital marketing.
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  • Miguel Neves

    I might expand a little on the point about customer service in that we often try to reach the highest number of people through social media, and at times forget about the individual. In essence we forget to be social, and this is unfortunate. More and more I see great benefit in having many small scale conversations rather than mass marketing on social media. The return may be small in scale, but it’s very effective.

    • Well said Miguel

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  • Sophie Brown

    It’s also worth planning who will manage social media during the event itself – exactly when most people are ready to chat! Whilst it’s often the marketing team who will manage the account for most of the year, they can often be sooo busy on site that they don’t have time to converse on social media.
    When I worked on The Photography Show, we automated some content, then I managed the interaction from the vantage point of the information desk. It worked surprisingly well as I could anticipate the queries we were going to get and pro-actively feed out useful information to visitors.

    And it was brilliant to be able to meet the people face to face who I had been conversing with over the preceding weeks.

    The marketing team were free to add extra photos and blogs from the show floor as they had chance, knowing that the customer service side was being covered. If you have a journalist or PR agency on site, consider building this into their contract.

    Just don’t give your audience the silent treatment!