Some of the best events are those where attendees serve as your brand ambassadors. In addition to the location, layout and logistics you develop for your event, consider how to increase social media engagement during and after your event. If you have 20 attendees at a small networking mixer, that’s 20 opportunities to increase your brand awareness and improve your “social proof”. This is particularly important if your business intends to continue doing similar events. Social media engagement shows your events are well attended and a worthwhile investment of time and money for future attendees. Enticing your guests to share on social media is one key to a successful event. Let’s take a look at five ways you can do just that.
Engage with Table Tents
You’ve seen “table tents”, those folded cards propped up on tables at an event. Delectably simple, it’s a mighty marketing tool. Many times attendees are looking for something to serve as a conversation starter or fill gaps in silent moments. Create a table tent popup that lists the event schedule, an icebreaker, or “share on social” incentive. These can be a great way to engage guests and work in social sharing. Hire a graphic designer or use DIY software like Canva which has preset templates for flyers. Be sure to include your logo, social channels, and text/images on both sides. Call attention to these throughout the event so guests are aware of the opportunities promoted on your table tents.
Designated Social Media Hashtag
One of the most common ways to foster social media engagement is to use an event hashtag. Feature it on your table tents, posters, and handouts. Ideally, this is specific to your event, so be sure to research it beforehand. For example, if you are hosting a networking mixer, search Instagram for hashtags like #networkingmixer2023 or #networkingmixerSanJose. You want a unique hashtag to generate posts related specifically to your event. Take inspiration from what already exists, tweak it slightly, or create something brand new. This is the rare occurrence when you don’t want to be part of the online crowd. You want yours to be distinct and searchable. That way, when people post a selfie, they can @ tag you with your Instagram or LinkedIn handle and include your event hashtag. This becomes particularly important if you are doing giveaways—more on that later.
Note: You can utilize this technique for Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn but it’s generally best to apply it to LinkedIn or Instagram. Facebook is a very bloated space and lacks the better hashtag searching features of the other two. If you are new to creating hashtags, here’s a handy how-to guide.
IG or FB Livestream
Another way to foster social media engagement during your event is to let people visit the scene. Inviting people into a particular place, event, or meetup via an Instagram or Facebook Livestream is a great way to showcase the style, flair, and enthusiasm of your guests. It not only helps boost your brand awareness, but it gives people a window into what it would be like to attend one of your events. That type of insider knowledge can give people an incentive to attend your next event. It’s definitely worth considering, and there are lots of different tips you can implement to livestream effectively.
Note: This one is difficult to tackle on your own. In order to do it successfully, have an assistant take charge of the videoing. Or recruit an attendee—you could offer a free ticket for one or more guests to assist with live streaming.
Designate a Photographer or Videographer
Another way to increase engagement is to hire a professional photographer or videographer. Have them attend your event, take pictures and video. (Note: You may need attendees to fill out a consent form.) Post on social media and tag attendees. Guests can further support your event by resharing to their own stories, in posts, comments etc. Upload a video montage to Instagram or Facebook, or include it in a YouTube video or short to showcase your event style. Don’t forget to include some behind the scenes footage too—such as setup or breakdown of your event. You can source a freelance photographer or videographer by posting a “looking for” ad on LinkedIn. Use hashtags like #freelance and #freelancer when you post it.
Follow Up Giveaway
Finally, feel free to pair these social media engagement tools with a follow up giveaway. Attendees that follow you on social and reshare your event posts, can be entered in a giveaway for free swag after the event. Alternatively, you could set this up as a selfie challenge with your designated hashtag for use to capture moments directly at the event. Encourage posting during the event and raffle a prize before the end. People always love free stuff, so this one is very reliable to increase engagement for your event.
Regardless of whether it’s a designated hashtag, an experiential video or a livestream, increasing social engagement at an event is about bringing people into the scene and encouraging them to show and tell. You can use any of these methods individually or in combination with each other. Make things light-hearted with selfie challenges and table tents. The best brand ambassadors are the people that already support you for what you do!
Feature Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko
Julie Ann Howlett is an (actually human) freelance writer who specializes in STEM, tech and business.