Your event is going to take place in two spaces; the real world, and the digital world. The actual event itself will be your focus, but neglecting the other one will be a mistake. Twitter is a hot place for any event to be discussed, both during the buildup, while the event is going on, and afterwards as your guests reflect on it.
I’m going to discuss some of the practical aspects of taking control of your event on Twitter, as well as some of the more digitally involved. I’ll be pulling a few real-world examples off of Twitter to help illustrate points being made.
Before the first announcement: Have a hashtag ready
In the past, events left Twitter up to those visiting it, and let them create hashtags. This worked for the most part, but it often lead to split hashtags being used. As an example, your guests for the annual, and made up, Twitter Shindig 2014 could end up with the hashtag:
And on and on. Having a hashtag ready in advance, and using it in all of your promotions in some way, will help your guests organize their conversations.
The benefit of this is that once your conversations are organized, more people will be able to join in and share experiences. This can even lead to people discussing your event well after it happened.
An example of this was the #NoGunsAllowed benefit event, attended by Snoop Dogg, Joe Montana, and others:
— Snoop Dogg (@SnoopDogg) May 30, 2014
The event’s hashtag was so strong it still pops up today, and has joined up with the larger Youth Right’s Movement. Your organized hashtag may not last this long after your event, but it gives it a much better chance of doing so. You must use this as a key aspect of your business’ Twitter hashtag strategy.
Another hashtag you can check out for a regular event is #SXSW for the South by Southwest festival. The hashtag is used frequently during the lead up and during the event, but people tweet it out year round. That’s free advertising for recurring events!
Promoting your hashtag on and off Twitter
You need to have a plan for your hashtag before the first piece of advertising comes out. This is because you want to put your hashtag on all of your merchandising, images, ads, everything you can.
Building the importance of your Twitter hashtag before the event takes places is vital. With enough in-house advertising, yes, you can get people using it on the day of. But wouldn’t you rather have your hashtag doing some work advertising for you in advance?
Examples of material to include the hashtag on include:
- Images being sent out over social media
- Facebook and Twitter profile images
- Offline and online advertising
- Email signatures
As you can see, it can sneak in anywhere. For the day of the event you’ll also want to put it on promotional bags, lanyards, glasses, etc.
The bulk of your true promotion of the hashtag may actually occur off of Twitter. All of those email signatures, every offline and online ad, and every image sent out over any social channel all build the importance of the hashtag.
What’s the benefit? It will draw those who are off Twitter into checking the hashtag out. They can then engage with others using it, and feel a closer connection to the event than any static advertisement could.
Check out this image from Social Media Week NYC, a conference for social media experts:
They use their hashtag on nearly every image they send out. It’s paying off as people were already using it on Twitter, 2 weeks out:
— Toby Daniels (@tobyd) February 11, 2015
How to use your event hashtag on Twitter
With the advertising above talking about putting it everywhere, you’d think that this applies to everything. That is not the case. You need to use your hashtag on Twitter appropriately, and when it’s relevant to the event.
Examples of when you would use your hashtag would be:
- When you want to talk about panels and talks that will be happening during the event
- Letting people know about speakers, giving them a @mention helps
- Talking about developments in the event as you approach.
Ok, you’ve hyped your event up by using a great hashtag. The doors open, you send out a “We’re OPEN!” tweet with your hashtag, and you get to rest. Right? Nope! There’s still a little work to be done on Twitter:
- Send out warning tweets when panels and talks are about to occur
- Update people on any delays
- Take pictures of exciting moments and snag those last few people who aren’t sure they want to go – let them see the fun they’re missing/FOMO
- Tweet out trivia about the event and use it to spark conversations
- Vital information like “Long line at booth B, come back in an hour when they’ve helped everyone,” or even “Use the bathrooms on the west side. They’re empty while the east have a line!”
Sharing information, even the most trivial, is key. Feel free to use social media scheduling tools to have those tweets for things you have planned in advance. This will take some of the pressure off you or your team amidst all the (hopefully) controlled chaos!
Notice the “Doors open in 10 minutes” warning as Guitar Center stays on top of their event within the SXSW festival:
— Guitar Center (@guitarcenter) March 15, 2014
Don’t ever forget to check your tech
This is an important step in taking control of your event on Twitter. Depending on the size of your event, you’ll want to be sure that your guests have a WiFi signal, or at least cellphone reception, in the entire space. Yes, even the bathrooms as many a great tweet has been sent from the seat.
The step above should be done well before the event takes place. Get your smartphone, walk around, and see what works. Why not tweet out your hashtag with a few pictures while you’re at it? “Check out the space before the #eventhashtag! #planning #workinghard.”
The last bits of tech you’ll have to check are on the day of your Twitter event. Make sure you check these off that morning:
- Your phone has to be fully charged. It will likely get a workout on the day of the event.
- Make sure that your laptop is fully charged – it will be your backup for mobile tweeting if your phone dies/disappears/isdropped.
- Have your laptop charger around – this is the backup to your backup for staying connected.
With all of your tolls at the ready, be sure to have one of them set to a stream of the tweets using the event hashtag. Someone will want to monitor that to answer questions, put out virtual fires, and engage with your guests.
A Twittering conclusion
You’re taking control of your event on Twitter to engage with your guests before, during, and after your event. And, more importantly, to organized a place online for them to speak to one another so that friendships, business relationships, and new connections can occur – all thanks to your event!