Social Media Marketing During Events: The Forgotten Aspect

This email originally appeared in the June 14th edition of The Scribble, KYC's weekly marketing newsletter. You can subscribe to The Scribble at the bottom of this page.

Your company has an upcoming event on its calendar. Could be a conference, maybe a tradeshow, or perhaps an executive panel. You begin creating a social media plan to support it.

  • You have pre-event content giving details about your company’s presence – dates, times, booth number, speaking info, etc.
  • You have post-event content planned - someone attending is charged with writing a recap blog post.
  • Then you start to think about during event content and how you can drive attendees to your booth or speaking panel.

We’ve found that’s how the thinking behind the social media marketing of an event typically goes. Lots of focus on the before and after, but what happens during the event is typically an afterthought, unless you’re doing some kind of contest or giveaway. If that’s the case, you’ll promote that heavily throughout it. If there’s no contest, your during event promotion probably consists of photos of your booth or table, along with a heavy dose of telling people your booth location and your company’s speakers.
 
But when you’re using your social media channels to market to an event’s attendees during the event, you’re more than likely not even reaching them. Most have their event schedule set before it starts and won’t be spending their time at the show scrolling through social media feeds about it. Instead, you’re spamming your channel’s followers with posts like “visit us at booth 100” and “don’t forget to see our CEO’s panel at 1pm today”. And those followers, who probably aren’t at the event, don’t care about your booth number or your team’s speaking schedule for the day.
 
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do social media marketing while at an event though. Events actually present a unique social media opportunity.
 
Think about all your followers who couldn’t attend the event. Is it something that’s still relevant to them? Then why not bring the event, and your presence at the event, to them?
 
The degree to which you can bring the event to your followers will differ based on the size of your company, the event, and the resources at your disposal. But there are a number of things that could be done.

  • If you have the resources, you could go big and approach the event as if your team is a media outlet ‘covering’ the event. This means at least one person at the event who is a dedicated roving reporter. That person’s sole focus is reporting on the event and, of course, your company’s presence. This should go much deeper than booth numbers and promoting speaking sessions – interview people from your company at the show, interview partners, interview attendees, write detailed blog posts recapping panels, take photographs during sessions.
  • If you aren’t able to devote a team or person to roving reporting, you can still get this feel, but on a smaller scale. This means no one person will be completely devoted to reporting, but a small team of people could share components of that style of reporting. One person could set aside some time for live blogging. Another could live-tweet (but don’t go overboard...people hate that). Another could film Facebook Live videos (these are a big, big opportunity for events). ‘Beats’ could be assigned by social media channel. One person handles Twitter, another handles the blog, another handles Facebook, etc.
  • If the above option seems like too much for you, scale it down a bit more. Pick just a couple of the activities and carve out a few small blocks of time to produce the content.

Another option is to pre-create and pre-schedule your content. You film it or write it in advance, but publish it during the event. It makes your program appear coordinated and aligned with the show.
 
Keep in mind that for this type of content, it doesn’t have to be overly produced. In fact, followers tend to respond better to content that is not heavily edited or produced (as long as it’s good, valuable content). Think about Facebook Live videos. They’re very ‘real’, and that’s one of the reasons people tend to like them.
 
When you’re planning your next event, ask yourself, how can we bring this show to our followers instead of spamming everyone with our booth location?

-Kevin

Kevin York