Connect with Your Audience Before, During & After the Event
“If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?”
It’s a philosophical question we’re all familiar with, and it has a direct correlation to event and retreat planning. You can spend months planning every detail of your events, but all your hard work will be for naught unless your marketing reaches the right audience, at the right time, in the right way.
Successful events are ones that keep attendees engaged before, during and after the event, and social media marketing has proven to be a highly effective tool for achieving these goals.
A recent study by Eventbrite analyzed over 25 million tweets, posts and image shares by planners and attendees of 50 of the most popular events held over the course of a year to discover what types of messaging drives the most engagement at these three critical stages.
Top takeaways from the study included:
- Nearly as many people “talked” about the events prior to them happening as during the events.
- Quotes and multimedia (photos and videos) accounted for 36% of sharing activity during the events (See samples below).
- Creating quotes as multimedia, providing attendees with access to a photo booth and teasing the speaker lineup were among the most successful strategies employed by event planners and promoters.
Before the Event
The Eventbrite study found that 40% of social media marketing and engagement occurred in the days and weeks leading up to the events, and 14% of the posts shared on social media focused on building excitement and anticipation. Countdowns featuring alluring images, and early bird discounts were among the most effective at driving engagement.
The next-most-effective posts focused on prospective attendees’ fear of missing out, or FOMO. Some savvy social media marketers used special discount codes and VIP access giveaways.
Posting behind the scenes photos and videos of event preparations was another popular strategy.
During the Event
Eventbrite found that 42% of social media activity took place during the events in the study.
85% of the social media shares that occurred during the events in the study included images, videos and quotes. Plain text posts accounted for the remaining 15% of social media activity.
Making your retreat or event “photo-friendly” encourages attendees to share the experience with others in their social networks, which generates anticipation and FOMO for future events.
Among the top ways to make your events more multimedia-friendly:
Have a photo booth or photo area that makes it easy for attendees to take and share photos on Instagram, Snapchat and other social sharing platforms.
Post interesting quotes as multimedia content. Include the event’s hashtag and @-mentioning speakers can increase your content’s viral potential. Image manipulation tools like Pablo, Canva and PicMonkey are great tools for creating multimedia content on the fly.
Behind-the-scenes images and interviews are great ways to keep attendees engaged and to connect with non-attendees you wish to reach.
Polls allow you to connect with your audience and get feedback about virtually any topic including the event activities, speakers, venue, menu etc. Twitter polls is a great tool for conducting real-time polls.
After the Event
Social media conversations don’t end once your event is over. In fact, Eventbrite found that 18% of social posts about the events in its study occurred after the event ended. Post-event conversations fell into two categories – press coverage and feedback.
While your events may not be on par with many of those in the study (the Bonnaroo music festival and the Tough Mudder endurance race), it’s always a good idea to promote them through local media outlets and industry organizations.
Depending on your budget, you may want to consider using a service like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to promote your events.
Ask for Feedback on Your Events
Asking for post-event feedback is a great way to generate content for your social media marketing efforts, but keep in mind that not all feedback will be positive. Negative feedback actually accounted for more post-event comments than positive posts in the Eventbrite study.
Be sure to respond to all feedback in a positive way, and use the information gleaned from surveys and polls to improve your future events. Offering discounts on upcoming events to those who provide feedback is a great way to smooth things over with disgruntled attendees, and to engender deeper loyalty among satisfied attendees.
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Photos: blog.bufferapp.com and Capon Springs Retreat Center.