So, you have been hired to market an event of some description, and you've been tasked with leveraging the power of social media.
It doesn't matter whether it's a village fete or a brand activation for the next big energy drinks manufacturer (insert base-jumping video here), barriers to entry are pretty low using social media, so it should be your first port of call to generate some hype around the event.
With that in mind, there are a few simple steps you should take to maximise the return on investment for your business or client.
Sometimes you might be working with a project team that doesn't want to release any details of the event beforehand. You might assume that this stops you from running any social campaigns, but think suspense and anticipation. Nikon, for example, ran an experiential campaign with pairs of six-metre-high fibreglass hands breaking out of the pavement in seven major cities across Europe. Wanting to ensure that the public were kept in the dark for several days, and to maximise the hype, marketing teams created buzz off-channel so as not to alert anyone to the fact that it was a Nikon stunt.
Your efforts should be focused on teasing people with little titbits of information to get them guessing and engaging. Have your content ready to publish on the day of the launch. Think about developing a content schedule before, during and after the event. And don't go mad on Facebook; the frequency with which your post is delivered into a newsfeed - ie if you upload too many posts to your page in any given 24-hour period - can be subject to penalties.
What are you measuring?
Social ROI for an event or campaign can be measured in a number of ways: post clicks, new page likes/follows and competition entries. However, you need to know how you want your audience to convert, to be able to maximise the impact of your social activity and ensure the content pushes them to take the desired action.
Which platforms should you be using?
The short answer is do your research and find out where your existing and potential event attendees hang out. This might be through a Facebook event, a Twitter list or a LinkedIn group. It's probably a combination, so target them on their home turf. Don't be afraid to investigate smaller niche platforms that might tie in with your potential audience's preferences more accurately.
If you have a Facebook page set up for your business, you can use the increasingly powerful 'Insights' tab, which allows you to look at your existing users' demographic profiles. Finding out information about your followers, such as age, gender, geographic location and interests (the latter is only available in the US at the moment), allows you to ensure that your content is written in the most appropriate tone of voice and uses supporting imagery to encourage them to feel engaged.
Reaching the masses
Before your event, you may want to consider creating 'custom' or 'lookalike audiences' on Facebook and/or Twitter. Custom audiences allow you to cross-reference a database or list of contact email addresses with existing Facebook accounts. Those that match up can then be targeted with event invitations or dark posts (that only your audience can see) on Facebook. Similar functionality is available through Twitter.
For example, if you're organising an exhibition to advertise your new brand of pet food, you might not be able to specifically target many owners of Persian cats in Croydon. But you may have access to this data on a mailing list that you've created off-platform. Custom audiences allow you to target these user groups with very specific content on social channels.
Lookalike audiences allow you to take an existing audience on Facebook, for example, and compare their demographic traits to the rest of that social media channel. The site will then generate an additional (and larger) audience, which mimics their details such as age, location, pages they like and relationship status. Combining this feature with a 'custom audience' allows you to increase the reach of your campaign, while maximising the likelihood that your much larger targeted group has very similar traits to those on your original mailing list.
When it comes to engaging with supercharged users and influential accounts, think about the range of stakeholders that have an interest in helping your event become successful. You can target content towards them, plus you can contact them and ask them to share your event info on their social channels via reposting, retweeting and sharing. These people might be your employees or suppliers, sometimes they might even be your best customers.
Leverage the power of these supercharged users to get the ball rolling and invite their friends and followers to your event. Sharing and reposting content organically will get your event page engagement off to a great start.
Mr Social is Oliver Jenkins, The Social Sasquatch
More: Mr Social, aka Darshan Sanghrajka, founder of agency Super Being Labs, shares his thoughts on social media and building communities.
Mr Social, aka Jon Davie, managing director of agency Zone, says more than ever, events are part of the connected world.
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