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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.
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.
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.