Laurie Shook

Using Social Media to Enhance Event Marketing

Although some physical businesses struggle against virtual competitors, event marketing experts see rich rewards from the virtual world, using tools like social media to add value to their business.

I recently heard some good ideas at a Social Media Breakfast Dallas panel on social media and event marketing. I’d like to share those ideas and a few more. Social media can amp up your presence before, during and after an in-person event.

Expanding Reach

Event Marketing Trades ShowSocial media can greatly expand the reach of your event. You can reach your attendees, their friends, future prospects, plus sponsors and partners.

For example, Dreamforce is one of the largest business conferences with 150,000 attendees. Thanks to social media, the 3-day show sees 10 million additional live streaming viewers, plus an additional 100,000 public social media conversations.

Using Twitter and Facebook posts and invitations can create tremendous pre-event buzz. This can drive increased event attendance. During the event, social platforms and digital apps can be used to better connect attendees. Tag boards can enhance social media sharing, and generate more interaction with attendees. These tools can lead to more trade show booth visits, increased seminar attendance or even sponsorship party attendance.

Maintaining Presence

Event marketing experts realize a physical event can become a great source of content. The content can be used to generate continued conversation about your brand on an almost evergreen basis.
Great photos can be shared gradually with your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter followers, whether it’s #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) or related to a current event. The best presentations can be repurposed into whitepapers to use as CTA (Call to Action) with marketing campaigns.

Event Marketing Recommendations

At SMBDallas, Rebekah Horton of Skyline Sector 5 shared four key recommendations for using social media for event marketing:

1. Communication Goals

It is important to define communication goals. Is it to build awareness for your brand? To grow fans? To create conversation? Or are you hoping to use social media to actually drive visits to your booth, potentially increasing your leads?

2. Instagram Ready

Let’s face it, everyone is walking around with a camera in their pocket. Give them something worth snapping and sharing with friends. At a local event, that might be creative cookies with your logo. Or, it could be a fun photo backdrop to encourage pictures with friends. For tradeshow customer Mente Group, it meant creating a display worth a million dollars—literally. There were Instagram ops galore as conference attendees took selfies in front of the carefully guarded stack of a million dollar bills.

3. Keep Social, Social

It’s very easy to fall back on old habits and broadcast the corporate message. Don’t. Make sure you engage with fans by asking questions and answering their questions. Your fans are asking for validation. Give it to them.

4. Finish What You Start

It’s easy to announce events or contests on social. If you invited people on social media, then do an event wrap-up with photos or video. If you had a social media contest, announce the winner in social channels.

Although these recommendations apply to any social media practice, they are especially important with event marketing. In the fast-paced event marketing world, it’s easy to lose focus on communications objectives when urgent logistics issues arise.

What are some effective uses of social media you’ve seen with event marketing?


Laurie Shook

Laurie Shook is a marketing director with a passion for social business. As a Social Media Dallas board member, she enjoys bringing speakers and insights to the DFW digital marketing community.

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