Industry events, trade shows, exhibitions and all the other events that companies have to attend are, in many ways, a necessary evil. They are great fun, and they show the industry that “we are still here and we mean business”. However, more often than not, they cost the earth and it can be extraordinarily problematic proving the benefit, impact and ROI of your investment.
Any marketers that have been responsible for organising these shows know that it takes months of preparation, buttering up event organisers, hammering down stand-builders’ prices, creating themes, and seeking the internal buy-in and approval for all your hard work. Only to find that when the event comes around, it’s success is reliant almost entirely on 6 sales folk not turning up with a hangover, actually talking to people, and then desperately trying not to lose the 10 bits of scrunched up paper on which they recorded the contact details of those oh-so-vital prospects that came to the stand.
Well, social presents an opportunity to take the offline experience online – creating a cyclical campaign that drives footfall to the stand, as well as attendees who are already online to share their opinions and engage with your brand in the digital space. This also allows marketing to maintain some control over the campaign success, customer acquisition and lead gen – even if you don’t attend.
Follow these simple steps for social event success:
- Take command
Creating a social ‘command centre’, as we do for many of our clients, means building a crack team of marketers, stakeholders, community managers, SMEs and designers to create content in real time during the event. This can be scaled drastically to a support any event, can be run from any location, in any time zone, and gives the event a full, integrated social wrapping. Feeding content to the command centre from the ground from those attending the event, then curating and creating social content in real-time can help you whip up a frenzy and become the talk of tinsel town (or your event) – whichever is more glamourous!
- Peter Plan
Using the schedule for the event and mapping content and messaging to the themes, events and talks that are taking place is an easy win. This can give the impression of real-time but affords you the time to effectively map content to the correct parts of the event to add value and capture interest at the precise moment.
- Get real time
As well as scheduling content to appear real-time, having a process in place to ensure that the flow of content in real-time is quick efficient and managed effectively is crucial for event success. Being able to pick up on what speakers say, the big takeaways and the more engaging parts of the event in real-time will ensure that your content is highly engaged with on social and your brand remains at the centre of the event conversation.
- Strength in numbers
Utilise the power of your connected network. If all the attendees of the event, sales staff, SMEs and marketers can share, like, retweet and favourite the social content going out from the central channel then your reach will increase dramaticallty. Moreover, if you can actually curate and repurpose content for them to post to their own networks (LinkedIn, Twitter etc.) during the event, rather than them just sharing central content, it will give a greater spread of content whilst positioning your employees as thought leaders.
- To hashtag or not to hashtag?
When getting social with an event, the question of hashtags always comes up. Should we create our own hashtag? Should we use the event hashtag? Generally, we always advocate making the most of the event hashtag as you know attendees and industry bods alike will be following it, and it’s a sure-fire way to engage the target audience with your content. There are times when the creation of a unique hashtag is beneficial – for instance, if you have a competition running during the event, or you are a large B2C brand at an enormous event where there is enough social traffic to warrant another hashtag getting off the ground. Generally speaking, including the event hashtag in your posting is great place to start and using social listening tools to identify and track the other big hashtags being adopted by your market during that time can help give your content a boost beyond the event attendees.
- Prepare for landing
You’d be surprised how many people lose out of the impact of great social marketing simply by having nowhere to send people once they engage them on social. Create a landing page, use an existing one, but whatever you do…think it through and DO IT PROPERLY! That means populating it with the right, high quality content; thinking about the customer journey from event to social to landing page; adding value; thinking about the entry mechanisms; thinking about actions and goals; setting up tracking and measuring everything.
- No half measures
That last point segues me perfectly into my last drop of wisdom. Track and measure everything, and I mean everything – it will pay dividends in the end. ROI and impact can only be demonstrated by tracking and measuring everything you do. You need to understand what you need to prove. How did you engage your audience online? How many leads did you get? Once you know all of that, then measure everything you can to answer those questions. Social metrics, site metrics, click data, paid data, spend, share of voice, form fills, opportunities – they are all massively important and ultimately will be the fruits of your labour.
So get planning, get tracking, and good luck!