Managing a social media portfolio for a one-off event or an event brand can be a challenge for event organisers, particularly when there are so many other event-related balls to keep in the air.
To help out, here are our top five tips for conference producers to help structure and manage their event’s social media portfolio so it remains professional, relevant, and realistic:
1. Choose the right channels for your audience
All audiences are different.
All event organisers know this, but when it comes to using social media at events, everyone seems to focus on Twitter. Twitter is great for promoting and amplifying events, but it is not the only option out there.
When you start creating a social media portfolio for your event, you need to choose your channels carefully, based on your understanding of the audience. Which social media channels do they use to connect and share information? Amplifying your event is all about making use of the existing professional online networks of your attendees to spread ideas and discussion about your event themes. To do that, you have to tap into where those activities already take place for your audience.
You might have discounted using social media as part of your event because you know very few of your audience members use Twitter. But do you know if they are active LinkedIn users? Are they using Snapchat or Slack?
Don’t feel you have to be on every possible social media channel – pick the ones that are most popular within your audience’s community and focus your effort there. If your time and resources are limited, prioritise channels you feel you maintain consistently so you build up an audience over the longer term.
2. Choose the right account for your event
Once you have chosen which channels to use, you need to choose whether to set up a brand new account or use an existing account with connections to your event.
If you are running a one-off event, an event-specific account on any social media platform will be short lived. Unless your event is very large, and you’re using one of the most popular social networking channels, you won’t grow much of a follower base. This might not be a problem if your social media account is being used to provide a functional service to attendees (such as live Twitter commentary, where the tweets will appear in the event hashtag results). However, if building a following or engaging with your audience in the longer term are a key objectives then you may need to consider using an account with a longer shelf life. You could set up a new account or use a corporate or project account that is related to the event in some way and would benefit from active involvement in the event.
The account you use is not a trivial decision. You need to make sure your event’s social media strategy makes sense for the account that you are using and the longer term aims for that account. If you plan to use the account to offer a commentary, you will need to warn followers that there will be a higher volume of updates during the event so they have the chance to temporarily mute the account if they are not interested.
3. Keep your chosen social media channels active
If you have a portfolio of accounts associated with a specific annual event or event series, then you need to consider what each account will look like during any dead time between events. There may be a period of activity immediately after the last event, then nothing until the build up begins for the next event.
Tools like Hootsuite allow you to schedule updates, so you can plan out regular updates and schedule them to be published automatically. This can be helpful if you want to keep your account looking fresh, but don’t have the time to dedicate to checking and posting content throughout the year. You could also consider inviting members of the community to ‘guest curate’ the account for a week at a time, so updates remain topical and relevant to the community.
If it is more appropriate for your account to be silent between events, make sure that your last update and the account bio/description both explain that the account will be dormant and where they should go for more information about your event. This will help make things clear for any new followers or visitors between events.
4. Keep your branding consistent
It seems like there is a new social network launched every five minutes. This presents the constant dilemma about whether or not to set up an account with your event’s brand identity, just in case that platform becomes The Next Big Thing. This practice is known as land grabbing. The advantage of land grabbing is that you can ensure consistent account naming across your social media portfolio. The disadvantage is that you can end up with a lot of redundant accounts, which can be difficult to maintain.
If you are concerned about making sure all of your social media accounts conform to your brand identity, or if you want to keep your event at the forefront of social media engagement, then here are some tips to guide your land grabbing habit:
- Land grab when a new channel looks like it might be appropriate for your audience and when it offers something different from the existing channels in your portfolio.
- Land grab if you know can keep your presence in the new social space looking professional. You will need to routinely check that any profile and cover images are up to date so your new profile does not end up looking scruffy and neglected.
- Use services like IFTTT to auto post content from other networks, where appropriate. This can helps your new profile to look active so that it builds up an audience ahead of your event.
- Make sure notifications from the new channel come to an email address you check regularly. You need to be aware of any changes with the new service, as many pivot shortly after launch based on user feedback. It is also a good idea to subscribe to the new channel’s blog or news feed for the same reason.
- Test the new channel out at an event in a non mission critical capacity to gauge uptake amongst your audience. Try different types of update and ask users to feed back to you after the event.
- Close any accounts that are no longer relevant or that you cannot actively maintain.
5. Protect your passwords
If you are sharing passwords with other members of your organisation, or if you are bringing in external event amplifier like me, it is important to consider the security of your social media accounts.
- Keep a record of who received the password
- Make a diary note to change all account passwords as soon as the event is over
- Make sure that everyone who has access to the account understands what you’re trying to do. If you have a social media policy, make sure they have read and understood it
- Where possible, use a tool like Hootsuite to share access to an account without sharing the password itself
- If you are setting up a new social media account specifically for your event, keep a record of the account details so it don’t get lost in any staff changes.
Image Credit: “Straws” by Ram Yoga (CC BY NC)