Social media can be a boon for event planners when used correctly. From tone to timing, experts at Moxley Carmichael advise how to get the most out of your online presence.
With the popularity of social media among all age groups, it’s no surprise that planners are promoting their events in a place where just about everyone will see them.
For guidelines on using the platform before, during and after events, we consulted with Moxley Carmichael’s Natalie Lester and John McCulley. They have over a decade of combined experience using social media to promote events.
For starters, McCulley advises having one website serve as the main page for the event. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts can be linked from that site to supplement promotion.
Furthermore, an event placed on the EventCheck Knox calendar will link to that main page, which should describe the event in detail and provide all pertinent information. Photos from past events, if available, can be posted to the website and social media to entice new attendees and remind past participants of the fun.
However, you can’t just put your event online and expect people to show interest, let alone show up.
As the planner, “take the first step,” McCulley said. Provide engaging content and interact on social media.
Also, remember to consider your audience when choosing platforms and to reflect the tone of the event in your social media posts. McCulley said a professional event should have a professional tone but, “if it’s a party, let loose a little bit!”
You should begin to promote your event on social media two to three months beforehand and up to six months prior for large events.
Lester mentioned the Holiday Canstruction event that takes place at the Knoxville Convention Center. Canstruction begins Nov. 22 this year, but Lester began promoting the event on social media in mid-August.
And while you do want to generate interest early, Lester cautioned not to overdo it. Don’t make people tired of your event before it even takes place. She advised one update per platform each day as a strong strategy.
It’s also important to know how each platform works in order to maximize effectiveness.
McCulley said planners should use the space allowed by Facebook to really create a connection with targeted attendees. With the brevity required by Twitter, links are important, while Instagram is perfect for photos and short videos. For Lester, photos of a space being set up for an event generate excitement to attend.
Following social media trends also will help you with event promotion.
“One of the smartest things event planners can do for their events is to create a hashtag,” Lester said. “And you’re promoting that before, during and after, so you’re aggregating everything that other people are sharing.”
People enjoy and expect hashtags at gatherings of all kinds. Plan ahead so you can control the wording that relates to your event, Lester noted.
During the event, it’s important to provide regular updates on social media. Many of the attendees will be live-tweeting so be sure to monitor those tweets and add to the conversation.
People want to share their experiences on social media. You want them to do so, so keep that in mind throughout the entire planning process. For example, pay attention to details, such as lighting and backgrounds, as that will result in better photographs, Lester advised.
Consider blogging about the event, posting the entry and photos to the event website and linking them on social media. These also can be used to promote future events.
“A lot of promotion right after the event can generate anticipation for the following year and get even more people at your next event,” McCulley said.
Arsenio Hall Franklin, an intern at Moxley Carmichael this fall, is earning his master’s degree in public relations at Kent State University. He is neither a comedian nor a talk show host, though his parents were true fans. When not watching the NBA, Arsenio gladly encourages his wife while she works on the couple’s truck.