Social Media Strategies for Sparking Event Conversations in 2018

By Sherry Hayes-Peirce   | 

A recent stat breaking down what activities people perform on their mobile phones revealed that the average person is on their phone for over 4 hours a day. Other reports show visits to Facebook alone comprise one in every five minutes of that four hours.

Social media is all about sparking conversations around various people, topics and most importantly what’s going on at events! Savvy social media users know the best way to start a conversation around something is too create a hashtag.

Create a hashtag for your event!

In the old days hashtags were just used when posting on Twitter, but now they are used across all platforms. The explosion of Instagram’s popularity was in part to using hashtags to draw people into the conversation around the imagery used on this visual platform. More tenured event planners often are a little confused about copyright infringement with using a hashtag, but quite simply there are no copyrights for hashtags. Because there is no copyright the biggest problem you will have is duplicate hashtags being used, so when you create a hashtag put it in the search field to see if there is already a conversation started. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Here are two tweets referencing the popular #PSL that has long been ascribed to the delicious Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, but now it is also used to spark conversations around the Premiere Soccer League. So someone following the hashtag #PSL will now see conversations around both of these. These are both well-known organizations and their branding and messaging would not be too offensive. Doing the test is really important if you are hosting a very conservative event, because you want to make sure the hashtag isn’t attached to something that will be offensive.

Let’s say an organization that promotes pornographic images uses the #PSL hashtag – now we got a problem! So really put some thought into what your hashtag will be and test it first.

My suggestion is to do something like other large conferences do, combine the name and the year of the event. SXSW is a great example of establishing a unique name that translates into a great hashtag, #SHRM2018 is a great example of using the organization name and coupling it with the year of the conference or here’s an example of coupling it with where the event is hosted #SHRMchicago or like our own upcoming conference #IslandWECon2018 that encompasses the location, organization and year of the conference.  Add the Hashtag to every marketing piece you print, every piece of signage created to adorn the site of the conference, social media headers or covers, websites and make announcements during the keynotes and sessions to spark conversations about what’s happening at your event.

So you still might think WHY is this necessary? It is how people communicate in real time from a conference, but when the conference is over people who couldn’t go will consume it and promote what the event is all about, that helps spark conversations that can translate into registrations for the event the following year.

Leverage Your Speakers

Promote your event by creating content about or from your speakers using graphic images. Lift a tweet sized quote from one of their talks and turn it into a cool shareable post like this one:

One of my favorite conferences for social media professionals is Social Media Marketing World and they leverage their relationships with speakers very effectively. They simply capture a testimonial from the speaker to share why the viewer should attend the event. Other videos are snippets from their sessions to give people a real feel for what they will experience at the conference. 

It also allows attendees of the conference to give real time feedback on how they like the speaker or what they learned from them that was really helpful.

You Have to Go Live from Facebook

Last year SXSW did a 20-minute live interview with Mike Posner and it was viewed by 26,000 people

Another example of a 4-minute video from SHRM that resulted in over 2,400 views and 54 reactions. 

Had 155 reactions and 15 shares – wow! You could enjoy this kind of engagement too if you plan now a strategy for using Facebook Live before, during and after your event. I wrote an article months ago that provided a guide for event planners to implement Live.

Whether your event is in January or next November you have time to implement at least one of the conversation starters outlined here.  If you want a deeper dive into creating a social media event be sure to attend my session5 Easy Tips for Folding Social Media into Your Event Planning” at #IslandWeCon2018.


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