For many, participating in a marketing event only consists of sending an email, showing up and hoping for as many attendees as possible. By integrating social media in your event strategy, you can make this a six-course meal and tasting of opportunities at a fraction of the cost.

In our first part, we will cover the key elements that should ensure your organization the minimum required visibility of your physical brand experience. Some indicators on how your next industry event can turn into a huge opportunity to truly connect, in engaging your customers and convert prospects into clients. The digital age has fundamentally changed the way we do business and industry events. Any organization not integrating social media as part of their event strategy is missing greatly and handing the customer away to their competitors.

Following are key topics and implementation tactics you should consider before, during and after your events.

Pre-Event Approach:

Define One to Three Strong Hashtag

This will not only single out your event by creating exposure for your business but also help you track buzz and end user interactions. Along your hashtag don’t forget to use the official event hashtag and connect more rapidly with people attending the event. Start engaging with prospects and attendees even before the show start.

Build up Media Exposure

Twitter and LinkedIn are two great venues to connect directly with key media people no matter what industry you are in. Interacting with them in advance will augment the possibility of getting that extra mention in the show daily newsfeed or in a larger outlet.  Invest in one or a few short video teasers. These always perform well in social media feed; people love videos!

Create a Specific Web Page on Your Site

For major announcements or product launch, it makes sense to create a dedicated page off your corporate site.  The reason for this is you can tailor the message to the specific audience, collect metrics using an inquiry form against a valuable download such as an eBook, or a white paper (you will be amazed how many people are willing to give up their contact info for valuable information!)

Host a Pre-event Meet Up

Large Industry events usually give the opportunity to sponsor a cocktail party or a breakfast session. There are only a few spots available so these are usually snapped by the big sponsors. Go ahead and create a VIP cocktail event set in the immediate area where the show takes place or where most attendees are staying.

Check the show calendar and make sure your event will not run at the same time a massive sponsored party is happening; you will maximize the amount of guests showing up.

At the show

Have a Person Dedicated to Social Media During the Event

Most senior execs will be busy in key interactions with prospects or current customers while the marketing team will be in the hotspot talking to media and making sure everything is running smoothly, leaving little time for posting about what is taking place.  Having someone dedicated to report and pot about the event allow for current attendees and outsiders to stay in the loop and capitalize in the event’s momentum giving you a top exposure within the event feed.

Video, Video Videos!

Nothing is more compelling than showing the atmosphere of the event and allowing your social media audience to be part of the event itself.  Someone winning a prize, giving a speech or a group having a great time, these are great snippets which work well in social media posts. Additionally, capture testimonials from guests around the event or from customers about the company, a social setting is always a great opportunity to get people to speak their heart out in a more genuine manner than a very structured and rigid way and makes great content for YouTube, Facebook Live, Snapchat, Periscope and your website.

Make the Audience Contribute

Even if the event is in Hawaii, no one has time to send postcards home.

A simple giveaway contest or photo opportunity in front of a branded banner associated with that famous hashtag is a great way to bring traffic to your space and to get attendees involved in sharing a picture of themselves and the good times they are having on their social media feeds. If your space and event is branded properly (see part I, You will multiply your reach through their network.

Oh… and Don't Forget to Share Content!

Things can get busy quickly, something unexpected always comes up and requires to be handled on the spot. Use the-pre show period to schedule your messaging and key content posts so they appear along with the pictures and videos you will capture during the event.  Event can be fun but remember also to make room for your talking points and brand or product unique selling points.

After the Event

 The meal is over but the memory of it will gain value only if it is shared with someone. It would have been unfortunate if you accumulated all these great moments and did nothing with it; The spotlights might be off and everyone is gone but the event isn’t over. The follow up just begins. From prospect to loyal customers there are a few things to be done.

Lead Follow up

You captured a large amount of business cards (yes these still exist) it’s time to update your customer database.  On average about 20% of your contacts will change position or companies within a year, send a follow up email. Instead of this been a simple but not really useful thank you, insert a link to a media gallery of pictures or photos and build in a share function. People like to share selfies or forward to colleagues. Don’t forget to use basic principle of personalizing that email to create a meaningful connection. Speaking a which, will give you an opportunity to connect on LinkedIn and further build up your network with people you actually met with.

Post Show Write Up

It is the opportunity for a blog post or full length article summing up what happened during the event and what was covered to reinforce the message or reiterate the product purpose. Illustrate the article with visuals (link to the media library) and videos. Extract bylines and use them in twitter posts to link back to the blog post itself.

These are really some easy to implement ways to maximize social engagements during your company events or key industry opportunities. Face to face interactions are still important in a business environment. Make sure to capitalize on them through social media follow up. Don’t forget also it is a great way to involve and let in those who were not able to attend but wanted to be part of it.

Do you have specific story or a particular tactics you found successful during your events? we would love to hear about it!