Melissa Harrison, CEO of Allee Creative, has 15 years of experience in marketing strategy, event management/marketing and business development. Recently named a “Top Young Entrepreneur” by Minnesota Business Magazine, Melissa also has received distinctions as a “Top Content Marketer” by the Content Marketing Institute, and one of 100 women to watch in the U.S. as part of The Inspirational Women Project. This year, she was selected to be a part of the SBA’s Emerging Leaders program as well as an inductee in to the DeForest Area High School’s Alumni Hall of Fame for her contributions and achievements in the industry. To have Melissa speak at your next event, help with upcoming event marketing and strategies, or strategize your next paid social media campaign, contact her at: 763-208-1384, email@example.com or www.alleecreative.com.
Did you know that nearly 80 percent of businesses say that social media is more important than SEO, email, mobile apps and even websites?
I get it. Some days social media can feel like a fad and may even get push-back from leadership. And it’s just one more thing to add to your list of things you have to do, right? So, let’s cut to the chase. The following seven tips will not only help drive attendance using social media at your next event, but they will help you engage with your audience throughout the year — not just at event time — and provide ideas for better time management.
While we all have good intentions of posting regularly, it rarely happens that way. Enter content calendars. They’re easy to set up and serve as your one-stop-shop for planning, tracking and scheduling content. And while there are some digital tools out there to help manage content, I’ve yet to find anything as flexible as setting these calendars up in a good old fashioned spreadsheet.
Use a tab for each month of the year and then utilize columns to add headings such as date, day and notes (this is where you can input key holidays, deadlines and other events) across the top. Each channel (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) gets a heading across the top as well. You can plan your content anywhere from one week to one month ahead of time. Use scheduling tools such as Hootsuite, SproutSocial or Spredfast and then include a “time scheduled” column so you know when the post has been scheduled to go up. Don’t forget this step — it is very important, especially around crisis management. If you ever need to pull a scheduled post down due to current events or something that has changed on your end, you will easily have a place to go to see when, where and what time the original post was scheduled.
Don’t forget to interact in real time, however. Scheduling content ahead of time is great, but make sure that someone is checking in on your accounts daily (even if for just 5 minutes) and answering any requests or conversations that may be happening.
You likely have great articles, websites and organizations you turn to in order to get information about your industry. Use these for ideas! Develop a source list of your go-to areas that you can turn to when it comes time to think up new content for the week/month/year (because you can’t just use your digital channels to talk about your event all the time). Source lists should contain information such as the source name, website URL, social media links and an area for miscellaneous notes. This makes it easy to see what others are talking about as you’re planning your content. It also can serve as a bit of competitor analysis so that you’re keeping your eyes on other events and happenings in your industry or area.
In conjunction with the sources lists you develop, don’t be afraid to share other people’s content. Sharing of other organizations’ content is just as important as creating your own. It shows collaboration and support of others. It builds trust within your network and shows your followers that you are engaging with others and aren’t just the people who come to a party and talk all about yourselves without including others. Be social. That’s what digital is all about.
You may not have sponsors at every event, but this tip also can be for constituents, key partners or other stakeholders as well. Keep a running list (see tip No. 2) of these accounts and stick them into your content calendar each month. It is a super-easy way to make sure you’re generating content, and it’s likely that the key accounts have great content that you can already source from their social media channels, websites or blogs. It’s a win-win!
Bonus: If you DO sell sponsorships for your event, add a number of social media call-outs each month depending on the sponsorship level as part of their sponsorship package. This is a great value-add for sponsors if they know you are also supporting their brand leading up to the event and you’ll likely get a good amount of retweets, shared posts and re-grams because of it. Even better? Share a discount code with your sponsors that they can give to their customers; another great way for them to spread the word and drive attendance on your behalf.
Organic content cannot be the only thing you rely on when creating social-media strategies for events. Just as you would have a print budget or traditional advertising budget, you need a budget for paid social content. The return that social media advertising can give you over some of the traditional methods is phenomenal. You can drill down by country, state, city, zip code, gender, interests, college degrees, industries, job titles — the choices are almost endless. Think about boosting specific Facebook posts throughout the month, creating one-week Twitter campaigns or sponsoring content on Instagram.
…Or Facebook, Instagram, etc. Whatever channels you are active on, use them in real time during your event. One of the largest events that my company manages sees more than 70 speakers. Our social team is onsite sitting in on sessions, snapping pictures to post online and using the event hashtag during all three days to engage not only the attendees, but those who may not have been able to be at the event in person. The increase in engagement and followers on channels is always at an all-time high during this time. Likewise, the attendees truly appreciate the quick response times and an avenue to reach people about things during the event (e.g. AV problems, questions about CEUs, room temperatures, etc.)
When attendees register for your event, ask them where they heard about your event (and give them specific choices with your social media channels being some of them). This will help you determine the channels that are working to drive attendance. Take it a step further and ask for Twitter handles or LinkedIn profile URLs. As the manager of the event you or your marketing team can then export this list to follow and interact with the attendees online before, during and after the event. And, it gives you information on which channels to concentrate your efforts on and which channels where you can probably post a little less frequently.
All said and done, don’t create content just for the sake of creating content. While we do our best to know who our target audiences are and where they may go to interact with our information, tracking the success of your social media efforts will provide you with great information on whether or not to continue using Facebook, to create that Instagram account or to use Twitter a little less and LinkedIn a little more. As you implement your strategy, make sure you are continuously monitoring your results — use platforms such as Google Analytics, Spredfast, SproutSocial or the native social media platforms’ analytics to assess your average reach, impressions and most important, click-through rates (CTRs) because at the end of the day, if your digital audience isn’t interacting with your content, they likely won’t interact with you in person, either.
Start small. If it still seems overwhelming, tackle one channel (or two) at a time. Be really great at a few rather than mediocre at them all. Plan. Schedule. Analyze. You got this. I&FMM