Before jumping right into some of the business reasons for having a social event strategy, I want to address the time frames that digital media bring to the event owners table.
The basic scenario of working with an event exists before, during, and after. If the event is a ‘one off’ you have a simpler model.
If the event is repeating you have a cycle of before, during, and afters that build into a trend.
Most events fail at realizing the first basic model and only construct the business processes around before and during.They create attendance, vendor, and sponsor value statements around two of the three cogs.
For event owners who produce repeat events, they often fall victim to error #1 as well.
The next major group of event owners typically adds a business model around the ‘after’ segment because they know that there is on-going conversation to attract attendees, vendors, and sponsors to the next event. In a good number of cases this model has a down time period where nothing is happening (with annual events there is typically 2-3 months of buzz followed by 9 months of silence.)
The core problem
The above processes simply describe an engine that isn’t firing on all cylinders. Even though the engine is paid for and the vehicle basically gets the job done, the team behind it is constantly having to push extra effort into starting a stalled car.
As event owners we need to realize the inefficiencies of working with partial business cycles and allowing ourselves to become stalled during the down time between events.
Bringing in the Right Ideas
Rather than think about social media in a ‘light and fluffy’ mindset thinking it is all about people on Facebook and Twitter talking about stuff, we need to think about it as a tactical tool that drives specific portions of our event.
Here are six ideas for using social media for your event business
This is the most common category everyone talks about. You can use social media to engage with your audiences with an economy of scale and cost effectiveness. Promoting your event using social media is the hardest thing to do correctly. The high-value and ROI you can get for event promotion with social media is double-edged sword if you become overly promotional, do not engage your stakeholders, or forget your core value.
Additional Reading; Event Hashtags: a guide to using them
2- The Social Connection
People like to meet other people who are like them and who fill a need they have. Providing tools and processes to help your audience communicate and understand the other audience members is a sure-fire way to bring a lot of value to your event. From a personal experience level I’ve been to dozens of B2B events where the event paid for itself and was deemed invaluable because I made one professional/personal connection.
3- Sponsor Value and Revenue
If you are operating with a before and during model, you still have an ‘after’ phase to develop sponsor options around. Repeat events also have an opportunity to engage during the downtime between events. Social media allows events to produce digital versions of existing sponsor/vendor options, as well as new outreach lists, whitepaper sponsorships, interview slots, and other digital content creation.
Additional Reading; Trade Show Exhibits – Post Checklist 401
4- The Opinion
Social media has a huge listening element. Attendee, vendors, and sponsors all have different things to say for entirely different reasons. Social media provides a huge opportunity to collect the information and to make critical decisions that can make huge impacts to events in realtime and in the future.
Additional Reading; Finding people with social media insight
5- The Metrics
Social media creates a tremendous amount of data that can be aggregated, categorized, analyzed, and archived. This data provides invaluable information to adjusting event business models and is a high value asset for vendors and sponsors who are struggling to gain insight to general audiences.
Additional Reading; Audience Engagement & Community Management
6- Building the asset
All of the above elements build over time. If treated like a one-time project social media fades away, yet if you treat it as a foundational part of your event business it grows day after day, year after year into a priceless asset. If we simply think about a basic Twitter asset growing at 500 interested people a month, you would have 6000 engaged members by the end of the first year and nearly 20,000 at the end of the third year. If you did your job correctly, a small list like this could represent hundreds of ticket sales and dozens of sponsors.
Additional Reading; Event research – buzz about events
The bottom line
If you own an event, you simply can’t ignore the multifaceted benefits of social media.
Whether you own a small executive event with fifty attendees or are planning to attract 100,000 people for the next event trade show, social media requires you to look at new return-on-investment areas. The biggest impact points are usually hidden in the