Social media marketing is an important and cost-effective way to promote an event to get people to attend as well as to engage those who are attending. AWC member RoseAnn Nicolai, president of Nicolai Events, shares her step-by-step plan.

Start with Research.

  • Know the demographics of the ideal attendee and which social media networks potential attendees and those who have already registered prefer. There is plenty of research like The Pew Research Center that gives information on how certain demographics spend their time online.
  • Capture preferences on the registration form by asking attendees which social media platforms they regularly use. Also ask for their handles. If they give them, it means they want to be engaged.
  • Right from the start create a hashtag and use it always. Just make sure to do a search to ensure it isn’t being used already.

Before the Event – Build Excitement.

  • Post consistently leading up to the event. Don’t just keep using the same invitation graphic. Come up with other posts.
  • If you have honorees or speakers, create a graphic with the event branding that highlights each of them. Tag them when you post. Also email them the graphic and ask them either to share the post or use the graphic to create their own.
  • Post about the emcee and entertainment as well.
  • Share video clips from last year’s event and quotes from past attendees.
  • When doing a site visit, post something about the excitement of where it is going to take place.
  • Share any media stories about the upcoming event.
  • Thank sponsors individually and tag them. They often will share, plus it’s another sponsor benefit.
  • Have an advertising budget for social media. Create different ads for different target audiences. Pretty much all social media platforms allow uploading an email list. So, upload past attendees lists and target them.

During the Event – Tell Your Story.

  • Post often while the event is happening. Have a plan of what you want to post and a person dedicated solely to social media during the event.
  • Go live for part of the event — whether for a portion of the presentation, during the entertainment or just a crowd shot. Ask a couple of key people to be prepared to say something about the event or organization.
  • Ask the audience to engage at the event. Publish that hashtag on everything. Have little signs at the table. Make sure the emcee or conference host mentions it.
  • Set up a photo opportunity for all guests with a fun frame that has the event name and hashtag on it.

After the Event – Keep People Talking

  • Thank people – volunteers, sponsors again, vendors who did an especially great job.
  • Share photos that other people posted – hopefully they used the hashtag or tagged the organization.
  • Post photos and videos the photographer took. Make sure the contract states an expectation of having both available relatively quickly so not too much time has lapsed.
  • Share any media coverage after the event.
  • Post a flashback a few months after the event, so people start thinking about the next one.

There are so many ways to use social media to attract and engage audiences and generate excitement for the next event. It just takes some time, so make sure it’s part of the event planning process.

Visit AWC Detroit’s Business Directory for a profile of RoseAnn’s company and of others who specialize in events.