Alex Trickett, creative strategist and social media lead at Imagination, said event companies sometimes use social media well but there are common pitfalls. "The list of common mistakes is long but right at the top is inadequate provision for wifi, which is totally counter-productive. Most social media interaction takes place via mobile when people are out and about. If we fail to provide a robust internet connection, we limit our social reach, however good the content."
He continued: "The second big no-no is complexity. At its heart, social media is simple. Create a photo opportunity, ask a simple question, provide a one-click social media connection. Don't make visitors to your event work hard: they have come to enjoy themselves."
Trickett notes that the Olympics – billed as the first ‘social media Games’ – did not produce the effects some brands had hoped for. "The most powerful social media momentum in the Olympics did not come from structured campaigns, it came from people responding emotionally and naturally to the amazing live sporting events. The challenge for brands and associated events is to add value to that conversation, and I think there is work to be done there. Heineken had the right idea with its Star Player app linked to the Champions League, where fans were encouraged to compete with each other by predicting real-life scenarios like a goal or a corner."
Peter Kerwood, marketing director at Altitude London, has seen a shift in the industry since he co-founded social media collaborative Soampd in 2011.
"People are now coming to us for help rather than us going to them," he said. "We now use a buzz aggregator to pull together all social channels, and our events trend on Twitter so we also started using a Twitter moderator to remove all the spam we tend to attract.
"My top tips would be to stop broadcasting and start talking - it’s supposed to be a conversation. Another mistake is using social media as advertising or as email. It should be like a chat room - you ask an open question you expect everyone to answer."
He predicted that social network Google+ will take off in popularity soon, and suggested organisers look into two new platforms in development. "The guys who created Twitter have created two new social platforms called Branch and Medium," Kerwood said. "Next year they should come online and people will adopt them really quickly. They both offer a closed network so you have more control over who you want to share with than on Twitter."
Social Media Week is a global series of events in cities including London, exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media.
Do events use social media well? What events have used social media well this year? Comment below and let us know what you think.
To read our in-depth feature on social media, check out the April issue of Event magazine. You can get it by subscribing here.