Is the event industry just paying social media lip service?

Last Modified: October 5, 2023 | Posted by: Katie Callear

There’s lots of pontificating about how great social media is when it comes to events. But the truth is, social media is drastically underused, and, in many cases incorrectly managed.

However, with event planners increasingly expected to do more with less, and technology delivering more and more business benefits, social media should be a key weapon in every event professional’s armoury.

Social media is no longer “shiny and new” – it’s part of the modern zeitgeist. So, there’s simply no excuse for not using it. And, given that roadshows, conferences and exhibitions should be generating benefits both pre and post-event, if you’re not using the power of social to promote, enhance experiences, and facilitate interactions, you’d best lookout for a new breed of #eventprof. One that’s snapping at your heels to show you just how it’s done.

If that isn’t incentive enough, despite the fact that less than half of businesses use social media for event marketing, social media budgets are expected to double over the next five years. Surely every event planner should be demanding a bigger slice of that pie!

However, a word of caution before you dive right in. When it comes to social media, setting up a Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook account and posting random updates simply won’t cut it in today’s competitive event world. Proactive social media is about more than seeing what sticks.

How to use social media at your events

1. Be strategic

Social media might be a powerful engagement and communications tool, but to be of value to your business it needs a purpose. Start by listing your primary event goals and consider how social media is going to help you to achieve these. (Of course, before you do this, you first need to make sure that your event objectives align with your wider business aims!).

2. Put in the groundwork

Just as in the offline world, relationships don’t happen overnight. You can’t post a few tweets the week before registration opens and expect to be inundated with attendance requests. To deliver results, you need to use and manage social media correctly. And that means investing time and effort into building an engaged social media following throughout the year.

3. Talk to the right people

With millions of monthly active users, you certainly won’t struggle to find people to talk to on social media. However, the more irrelevant accounts you engage with, the harder it can be to cut through the noise and talk to the people who matter.

To make the most out of your social media experience, forget all about amassing huge numbers of empty followers and focus on quality rather than quantity. And make sure you choose the right platforms. You don’t need to be on every social media channel. Instead, invest some time and effort into finding out where your audience is.

4. Start as you mean to go on

Once you have identified who you are talking to, you can begin promoting your event.

Consider, for example, using images, videos, and testimonials from previous events to demonstrate success (and tag these accordingly). Create bespoke event content and encourage attendees to share it. Create an event hashtag to make it easier for people to search for, and engage with event updates. Where appropriate, consider landing pages, Facebook pages, or microsites to promote the event. And, if your agency is registering your delegates online they should be providing a system that interfaces well with social media, making it part of your integrated strategy.

There are many channels and techniques you can use to promote your event very effectively, but the key here is relevance. Your conference agency will be able to advise you on the most effective and bespoke solutions for your particular event.

5. Make social media a key player during your events

Social media isn’t just about promotion. Today’s events need to be both influential and memorable, and with ‘engagement’ the buzzword on everyone’s lips, social media provides a quick and easy way for you to achieve this – without breaking the bank.

Encourage attendees to share their experiences on social media during the event (with the established hashtag). Integrate live screens to allow people to see these posts and consider competitions and live questioning via social media to spark interest and activity. And don’t leave all the work to your attendees, make sure that your team is also providing live updates throughout the day, quoting speakers as well as sharing and responding to posts.

6. Keep the conversation going

Your event might be over, but that doesn’t mean the hard work is. To maximise results keep engaging with attendees after the event is over, encouraging them to share feedback, images and experiences. Once you have this information at your fingertips, use it to create content that will not only demonstrate the success of your last event, but also help you to promote the next one.

In conclusion

If you want to promote your event, boost attendance, and generate conversations, social media could be invaluable at your next event. However, one of the biggest myths created about social media is that it’s free. Yes, when compared to other forms of marketing, the cost of entering the social media space is minimal, but to be successful, it needs to be used correctly. And that means investing time and resources into making it work.

If all this sounds like you may need some help, you’re probably right – your events agency should be able to not only guide you through the options for your particular event but also do a lot of the associated work for you as well.

The internet is a loud, crowded, and distracting place, and without the right support, many businesses find it hard to manage their event social media channels – often becoming frustrated at the lack of results. As such, it pays to work with people who not only know their stuff when it comes to event management, but who also understand the benefits and pitfalls of social – and tech in general – helping to make sure your social media activity is supportive of your wider event aims, rather than a distraction.

Supportive and helpful. Creative and innovative. Organised and flexible. Experienced and reliable. At Apex, we bring 25 years’ experience and exceptional support to your events, exhibitions, roadshows, awards, open days, and conferences. Click here to find out more or give us a call today on + 44 (0)1625 429370 to discuss your requirements in more depth.