How to Prepare for a Live Event (When Your Social Media Manager Is Off-Site)

Written by: Leo Manning

As we’re all aware, social media is ever present, especially at in-person events. Whether it’s a conference for professionals, or a public exhibition, you need a plan for your social media presence (and we mean more than just a meme correspondent) to garner attention and engage with attendees. But, what if your social media manager isn’t on-site? While that can be stressful, proper planning and coordination can make it easy to run social media for an event without even being there!

Why You Need a Social Media Plan

Remember: Social media is about people. No matter your goals, your strategy needs to be focused on creating conversations with followers as real people, not just talking at them. 

This isn’t as simple as logging on to your company’s Instagram page and posting daily about a sale or exclusive offer. It’s about seeing what your audience is interested in, seeing how your organization can engage in that conversation, and responding to the thoughts, ideas, and opinions of your customers. If you’re not listening before you speak, you may just be screaming into a void without realizing it. 

For events, listening and planning is even more important. Effective social media preparation can help all aspects of an event: Marketing, customer service, sales, attendee experience — the list goes on and on. But poor planning, and worse – poorly managed social media – can cause unnecessary headaches and undue stress.

How To Plan Social Media for An Event

When you think about planning social media for an event, your first thought may be solely around promotional posts for the event. And while that is part of it, there’s also a lot more to think about. For any event, you’re not just selling tickets in advance; you’re preparing a run-of-show, staffing plans, and more. So why not plan your social media that way?

Goals

Just like any event has goals, so should your marketing efforts. A major benefit of social media is that its performance data is more accessible and trackable than ever before. This allows you to gather more insights and learnings that can impact the event as a whole. You’ll want to keep an eye on some standard metrics, such as followers, impressions, engagements, and link clicks along with other, more event-focused metrics, such as positive and negative feedback, mentions, and, of course, registrations.  

Platforms

Before you can start building your plan, you need to ask: Which channels do we have a presence on that are applicable for the event? Start by considering your audience and the type of event. Generally, Twitter is home to live conversations and attendee engagement. If it’s a visual-heavy event, Instagram Stories will be a great way to share live footage and amplify attendee photos and videos. For more professional services or trade events, you may want to include LinkedIn; multi-day events may lend themselves to some community building in Facebook Groups. 

With the rise of hybrid events, you might want to consider livestreaming. If that’s part of your event strategy, you’ll need to determine the platform. Facebook and YouTube are two of the most popular places for live video, but other channels like LinkedIn have options and may be more accessible to your target audience. This guide from Streamyard shares tons of helpful tips for planning your livestream.

Digital Customer Service Plan

With your platforms selected, the next step is to create a digital customer service plan. This document should not be created in a silo; it should feature input, information, and insights from other departments and event teams. The goal is to turn this document into an informational repository, featuring response plans for different emotional sentiments, answers for frequently asked questions, and operational procedures for scenarios that may need to be escalated to outside teams and stakeholders.

Categorically, there are generally three sentiments for responses:

  • Negative Responses: When you hear the phrase “customer service,” these are the stereotypical responses. When attendees are angry, your goal should be to take it to private messages instead of public messages and work to de-escalate the situation. This is where having a standard procedure set in place helps resolve any issues quickly.
  • Neutral Responses: These tend to cover general questions. Especially when major event announcements are being made, you’ll want to be ready with an internal FAQ prep sheet. This should answer most key questions, along with a list of contacts from other teams that you can direct questions to.
  • Positive Responses: One key area that people forget about is positive feedback. If you get any positive feedback, amplify it! Thank them! You want to engage with these people to encourage more positive feedback. If possible, provide things such as coupon codes or exclusive access to really show your appreciation.

Staffing Your Social Content Team

Just as you would staff the event team, you need to staff your social media channels! Especially when a social media professional won’t be on site, you need to determine a system to gather your content. In advance of the event, there should be an internal understanding of the following questions:

  • Who is gathering content?
  • What type of content do you need? Are you looking for just photography, or are you incorporating videos as well? Will you be gathering quotes and testimonials?
  • Why do we need the content? Is it just for social media use, or will it be repurposed by website, development, media relations, or other teams? When do the respective parties need it?
  • Where is the content coming from? What different locations need to be covered?
  • How are you sharing the content? Will teams upload to a common drive or text it to someone? Is there a team member who will be charged with organizing the content? How can we reuse the content later?

Preparing Content in Advance

Last, but certainly not least, take the time to prepare content in advance! Pre-scheduling select content can take some stress off the event day-of and help keep your team organized. Some content that you can prepare and pre-schedule may include:

  • Event Schedules: With a full run-of-show in hand, you can get ahead and develop any content around the sessions or schedules! If you’re running a conference, you can schedule speaker graphics or session info. If it’s an exhibition, highlight key festivities or other activities that will be happening. Just be sure to have a system for timing scheduled posts so you avoid oversaturating your account. 
  • Sponsor Shoutouts: If your event has sponsors, don’t forget to show them some love! Even if you want to feature live photos from the show, as long as you have an idea of what they’re presence and/or role will be on-site, you can pre-draft your text with handles and hashtags and then wait for a live photo to post!
  • Speaker Highlights: If your event has speakers, highlight their expertise! In advance of their sessions, share some of their past articles, videos, and other content!

Throwbacks: If it’s not your first rodeo, then share some snapshots of past events! The content is already in-hand, and if any features are coming back from a past year, that is a great way to share a little sneak peek of what to expect.

Is Your Social Ready for the Event?

With the planning and infrastructure in place, you’re ready to crush social for your next big event, even if you’re not there! But if you still want more info on what to do during and after your live event, check out our eBook that outlines tips and best practices for your event’s social media presence. And if you need help creating the social plan for your next event, find out how Slice can help.

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