When you think about it, the reasons why people use social media and the reasons why people attend events are largely the same. As a recent Business2Community article pointed out, both are essentially platforms that allow people to connect, interact, learn and share things with peers or like-minded individuals.
Their similarities mean that the two can be used together to great effect: social media marketing can significantly boost event visitor numbers, drive footfall to your stand and boost views of your event-related content resources. You'll also be amazed how encouraging attendees to use social media during an event can quickly see your fan and follower numbers rise.
The basic idea of 'Social Media Air Cover' is to ensure that your on-the-ground-team, who are engaging 'hand-to-hand' at the event location, are backed up by a social media presence from ‘above’ - whether on-site or back in the office - which multiplies vastly the number of connection opportunities and also can help sustain new relationships long after the event has finished.
While the events industry has become increasingly complex thanks to sophisticated event software and cloud platforms, social media can always be relied on to get as many people as possible engaging with you and helping you achieve your event objectives.
So what’s the plan?
Once your goals have been set, it’s important to put together a dedicated social media plan for the event. This doesn’t need to be long or complicated, but should consider your target audience (who they are and what they want) and what social networks you should be allocating the most time and resources to.
And be sure to allocate team responsibilities in advance so that all involved know what’s expected of them and when. You’ll be amazed what a difference it can make to team members’ level of commitment and involvement just by having their name included in an event planning document. No doubt there’s an element of both carrot and stick involved here…no one likes to be seen as the weakest link!
You should consider producing your own content - blog posts, videos, pre-planned tweets etc - that will be of practical use to event attendees and share any relevant content from other attendees that engages people and builds a conversation. And don't forget to use - or come up with, if it’s your event - a good event hashtag to help spread your message.
Connecting with the ‘super-influencers’
For bigger events I would strongly recommend creating your own dedicated Twitter list of key event participants - organisers, speakers, sponsors clients, prospects, media - so that you can keep an extra-close eye on their social media activity throughout the event cycle. You’ll never have a better chance of catching the eye and establishing connections with ‘super-influencers’ than when you have mutual alignment and focus around a single event, with external stimuli and work priorities temporarily reduced or ignored.
The event world’s your oyster
The other beauty of social media air cover, of course, is that you can even use it on events you're NOT attending in person, meaning that the sprawling events world suddenly becomes a much more manageable proposition altogether. In fact the opportunities to use social media in tandem with events to make your marketing budget go further suddenly become near-endless.