Integrating in-person events with online community efforts is becoming increasingly popular, and not just for location-based communities but for others as well – presenting a way to deepen relationships with your brand’s most loyal fans. Below are some practices that can assist community and social media managers, from the pre-event through post-event stages.
Pre-event: Planning & Preparation
- Create and promote event hashtags. You should think of running your branded event like a meetup. Recurring events, especially, should have and encourage the use of hashtags on Twitter and Foursquare.
- On Foursquare venues (event locations), provide further check-in information with the name of the specific event taking place. Protip: add events at venues one week prior, wouldn’t want to forget them in the final days leading up to your event.
- Generate a pre-organized RSVP confirmation message that can be shared on various social networks. Depending on what event platform you use, your event administration panel may allow you to optimize by pre-populating the confirmation page with the designated hashtag of the event.
- Include Twitter handles of event guests in the event description. Include them in all promotional tweets leading up to the event. In addition, use Twitter handles of venues and incorporate into across all promotions. Names of people and places can be tagged on Facebook as well, don’t miss out on getting more shares by taking just a few extra moments to include them.
- Don’t forget to include a link to your event registration page. Most importantly, the goal is to make it easy to sign up. Depending on the scale of your event, you’ll want to track visitors to the registration page and monitor conversions.
During event: Making the Most of It
- Incentivize check-ins with treats or specials to attendees. Who doesn’t like swag, right? Don’t have any swag, get partners to donate swag. People always gravitate toward free stuff.
- Level up with additional apps. Along similar lines as Twitter and Foursquare, Instagram can be used to encourage guests to share their event experience by taking and sharing photos of themselves and friends. Such photos are definitely worth retweeting on your brand’s Twitter handle, so be on the look-out.
- Inform guests about social media sharing opportunities. You should make them aware verbally upon check-in, and consider posting written signs or having social sharing details projected onto a screen/live stream.
- If within budget, coordinate official event photography. If not, assign a volunteer photographer to take 50-100 event photos for future documentation and use.
- Send thanks, thanks and everlasting thanks. At closing, extend appreciation to all attendees and volunteers for coming and sharing the experience with you.
Post-event: Closing the Events Cycle
- Maintain event excitement. Email to officially thank volunteers and attendees no later than one week after completion.
- Create a branded Flickr photo album of the event. Use 20 quality shots taken by the volunteer photographer. Add more photos to the event album if a professional photographer was enlisted. Consider uploading photos under the Creative Commons with the request of links back to your brand’s website – for increased online visibility.
- Blog about it. Two-five of the best shots can be posted on your company blog as well. A short paragraph about the event should accompany the post, which can quickly be repurposed for the newsletter.
- Rock with a wrap-up email campaign. Reach out to everyone who RSVP’d. Link to the Flickr photo album in the newsletter. Reuse text from blog article about the event.
- Highlight individuals in the newsletter when possible – for instance anyone who may have won an event giveaway, door prize or engagement prize.
- Plan for the next! Provide a Save-the-date for the next scheduled event, or include the registration link in the email campaign.
What makes a great socially integrated event in your opinion? Feel free to share your experience and advice.
Photo credit: Eva Blue