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Social media now a big part of the events menu
[September 03, 2014]

Social media now a big part of the events menu

(City A.M. (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ONE OF the fastest-moving parts of the events industry is the world of social media marketing and engagement, which is constantly adapting to new technologies and features.

"I think every time Mark Zuckerberg sneezes we have to change what we do," says Cemanthe McKenzie, managing director at New Media Angels. She adds that content relevant to a specific event's audience is more important than ever. "Events are becoming more and more targeted and that is a good thing." Ruth Harper, head of digital at communications company Onyx, says the need for this content has presented new challenges to event organisers. "All of the things around a live event have had to raise their game," she says. So what can businesses do to make the most of their events' social media campaigns? According to Harper, the first step is to identify who the audience is and which channels they are using. Then organisers can interact with them, posting event details and links to highquality content on relevant themes. "The key is to create a buzz around what exactly is going to be happening," she says. A sales-orientated message won't generate engagement, she adds. "That kind of broadcast-y, sales-y message can be quite off-putting." Once a firm has identified its audience, it is time to create a hashtag - something McKenzie says many companies fail to do before event day. "The best thing is to create the hashtag in advance and send out information on it," she says.

When tweeting, it is important to leave space for engagement. "Keep your tweets very short and leave room so they can be retweeted," Harper explains. "Do not use up all your characters. Otherwise it is very hard for people to amplify what you are saying." By leaving some space, firms allow their guests to manually retweet posts along with their own comments while retaining the event's own Twitter handle.

McKenzie says a successful social media campaign gives guests "a platform to feel engaged". People "like to have their two cents' worth", she adds. This makes a Twitter wall - a screen showing tweets on the event hashtag - a great way to build some excitement, but the organiser should filter what appears. Make sure you have some editorial control, warns Harper.

Post-event it's time to take stock of both the content generated and engaged users. "Follow attendees on Twitter and add them to a list," Harper says. "That way firms can ask more questions and get as much feedback as possible to improve future events." McKenzie suggests aggregating social media content into blog posts and inviting attendees to write their own. "They are more likely to share what they wrote," she explains, comparing the post-event drip-feed of content to a slow-release multi-vitamin supplement.

"Events by their nature are social," reflects Harper. After all, when else will your business have hundreds - or even thousands - of people all in one place and willing to interact with your brand on Facebook and Twitter? (c) 2014 City A.M.

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