3 Phases of Social Event Planning: A Marketer’s Quick Guide
Social media integration is an essential tool in today’s marketing wheelhouse. It is not only significant to overall marketing programs, but for live events as well, be it tradeshows or events for brands and organizations.
This process can be dissected into three main phases. Of course, edits are almost always necessary because no brand or live event is exactly the same. So digest the below as a concise, initial guide, not a preachy mandate.
Phase 1: Strategic Planning and Content Creation
Before the event, your sole focus should be preparing content to use during the show. This will make your life easier during the event:
- Take this time to lay out which strategies will be implemented right before the show, during the show and after the show. Start from the foundation of your brand here – think, “what’s our mantra?” Then think about what’s been working for your brand socially and try to maintain that voice during the live event (frequency is increased during live events so brand voice is sometimes in danger of getting lost).
- Understand your attendees and what social platforms they live on (and what social platforms work best for your brand). Are they older? Younger? Dig into your data to discover who you expect to attend. Once you’ve identified your audience, you can start creating content.
- Craft as much applicable pre-show content as possible–editorials, CTA’s, graphics, video, etc. Schedule this content as far in advance as you can. This will relieve pressure before the show and give you a decent messaging foundation. Also, start messaging. Make sure people are aware of dates, times, locations and features for the event. Messaging early never hurt anybody.
- Set clear goals and KPIs. What do you want to accomplish with this event? What do you expect from it? By setting these goals up front, measuring success after the fact will be much easier.
Phase 2: Strategy and Execution During the Event
Your goal during any event is to be seen as an expert in that topic. Follow these tips to make that happen:
- Before anything, ALWAYS be ready to shift. Live events never go 100% according to plan, so put on your producing hat and be ready to edge off turns when they come your way.
- 99% of the time, Twitter will be a highly beneficial asset during the event. It acts as an instant communication network for customer service inquiries, brand-to-attendee messaging and, now, heavy multimedia content.
- Budget permitting, be sure to allocate costs for a video and correspondents. This adds to your content arsenal – end of day recaps, interviews and creative videos can be produced, edited and published [to social channels] in real time during the event.
- Budget permitting, back good content with advertising dollars. Targeted content (by city and interests especially) can produce good returns, especially if it is a ticketed event. This topic deserves its own blog entry, but make sure all click-throughs are tracked from social to digital. Social engagement is great, but means nothing if no one is converting. Once all conversions have been calculated, measure input vs. output (ad spend vs. tickets sold). Evaluate and make the necessary adjustments moving forward. Rinse and repeat.
Phase 3: Post-Show Strategy
After the event, your goal is to keep attendees engaged, and provide continuing value:
- A piece of this should be outlined, or at least thought about, during Phase 1, and a post-show giveback should be implemented following the event. This can come in the form of a giveaway via social, special offers via social or even larger scale program such as creating an exclusive online community for all the attendees to interact with one another during the off-season.
- Make sure there is recap content: post-show video wrap-ups, post-show messaging, etc. Event closure and social continuation are vital.
- Dig into your data: Make sure you have a solid understanding of the event’s success, focusing on the KPIs and benchmarks you set before the show. Did it perform how you expected or hoped? What can you learn from and do better the next time?
What tips would you have for an event marketer looking to incorporate social into their bag of tricks? Let us know in the comments!
Jameson Brown is the VP of Strategic Operations at Knechtel Group, a new media agency in Atlanta and New York. He is also the Editor-at-Large at TheScriptLab.com, the leading source in screenwriting education and film review. Clients have included IMAX, Macy's, Cox Communications, CNN, Advanstar Communications, AutoTrader.com, Progressive Int'l Motorcycle Shows and will.i.am.