How can you leverage social media to promote an event? That’s a great question to ask us right now as we just returned from covering the annual SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In and Expo in Lakeland, FL. We have several aviation clients, including SUN ‘n FUN themselves, so our week-long coverage of the event turned up on several Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and YouTube channels!
There are three basic phases to event promotion on social media, only one of which is the run-up to the event. This is obviously important if your goal is getting more people to the event, but if you have a solid social media strategy, you know you also need to account for coverage during and after the event.
In promoting an event beforehand, make sure you get an early start – the bigger and longer the event, the more advance notice people will need to make their plans. Remember, though, that just like an early-season baseball favorite, you don’t want to peak too early. There should be an intentional and well-timed buzz build-up that naturally crescendos with the event itself. Don’t let the social media promotion be an afterthought either, make sure you include social media in the total marketing plan from the very outset. In the case of SUN ‘n FUN, we start working with the client on the actual event months in advance, though the most intense coverage doesn’t start building until a few weeks ahead of time.
Coverage during the event itself is also a GREAT way to build vital page interaction and to get your content shared. No matter how many people you get to show up at your event, many of your fans on social media will not be able to make it – they will appreciate your coverage and will comment and share. It is also a great way to get fans interested in attending your next event! If it is a big or long event like SNF, it’s also a great way to include your fans by sharing their photos and videos on your social media channels. Engaged fans are advocates for your brand, and that’s press you cannot buy.
Once the last guest leaves and the mess is cleaned up, though, don’t think your social media promotion is done. There are tons of great follow-ups that can be done on social media including sharing photos and video of the event. Don’t post every picture you take on the big day at once… mete them out over time to extend the impact. The bigger the event, the longer period of time over which you can extend this follow-up. This not only maintains the engagement of the folks who were fans prior to and during the event, but becomes an opportunity for people who attended the event but weren’t previously connected to you on social media to become fans!
Over the five days of SNF, NetWeave spent almost 200 staff-hours making live posts, taking over a thousand pictures and hours of video, and connecting with fans all around the world. But we can tell you from experience, that the week is not the beginning, or the end, of that social media effort. Social media is not a short-term strategy and you need to be in it for the long-run!