Using social media to promote your next live event? Of course you are. In this blog post we highlight the use of Twitter as an incredibly useful platform for event promotion, featuring four examples of how other industry leaders have leveraged Twitter as part of their event strategy.
With Instagram Stories, Facebook Live and new social media features introduced on the regular, it’s easy to forget just how much bang for the buck you can get on Twitter. After all, it’s a more limited social platform than others — to the point it has a hard-and-fast character limit: 280 characters, up from the 140 that required serious character-wrangling to make both sensical and engaging.
But it’s a mistake to dismiss the social media “old-timer.” Because there’s one way in particular that Twitter still rules the roost: live event buzz.
Why Focus on Twitter Event Promotion?
With all the social media options, why focus on Twitter for event promotion? Some 2018 statistics to consider:
- Twitter has an impressive amount of international users (261 million) and supports 40 different languages. If your event is international, Twitter should be a part of your promotion strategy.
- Eighty percent of Twitter users access the network on mobile platforms. This is perfect for event planners in particular because it allows participants to easily promote your event while attending it.
- The retweet feature gives a tweet more legs than, say, an Instagram post, which doesn’t have built-in regramming abilities. Retweets drastically increase the reach of your event. And with 54% of users reporting they’ve taken action after seeing a brand mentioned in Tweets (such as, visiting their website, searching for the brand or retweeting their content), that’s good news for you and your brand.
The Beginnings of Twitter Event Promotion
In fact, Twitter itself can thank an event for its initial success. The social platform launched in July 2006 to little fanfare but blew up at the 2007 interactive, film, and music conference — South by Southwest, when Twitter usage jumped from 20,000 to 60,000 tweets per day.
This was due, in part, to some clever event integration. Twitter placed 60-inch screens in conference hallways streaming Twitter messages. This gave Twitter and those tweeting high visibility and made others want to take part.
The event helped highlight how Twitter was most useful, transforming the perception that it was a social network or microblogging site to an information-sharing network, as one of Twitter’s creators Evan Williams once described it to Inc. Keep that in mind as you build out your social event strategy: While Instagram is about sharing photos and Facebook is often more about life updates, people aim to share information on Twitter. Your goal is to get them to share information about your event there.
Below you’ll find examples demonstrating how you can leverage Twitter to promote your event.
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First things first: You can’t create online buzz for your event without the help of user-generated content. This means that you need to make it easy for others to share event content.
One way to do that is with a hashtag. Hashtags essentially collect the conversation about your event under one hyperlinked word. If all your participants use the same hashtag, this gives it more power and more opportunity to trend on Twitter, which puts you in front of a much larger audience. That said, you probably won’t trend if some event-goers use the hashtag #INBOUND2018, others use #INBOUND18 and still others opt for #INBOUND. But if you get everyone using the same hashtag, you’re primed for a Twitter takeover.
So before you launch any promotions, establish a hashtag and put it in all the right places. (You’d be surprised how many business skip the latter.)
INBOUND—a huge annual experience for marketers, salespeople and customer success professionals--smartly placed their hashtag #INBOUND18 in a few key places. For example, right underneath their social media buttons on their website.
Then again in their Twitter bio.
They also used the hashtag in a tweet pinned to the top of their Twitter profile touting one of their keynote speakers.
We wouldn’t be surprised if they had their hashtag on their print collateral too.
Key Takeaway: Get all your hashtags in the proper, visible places before you launch your event promotion strategy.
Dreamforce, one of the largest SaaS user conferences in the world, created the event hashtag #DF18 and the hashtag #RoadToDF18, which promotes a series of videos leading up to the event to build excitement. Their pinned tweet helpfully explains this.
The #RoadtoDF18 broadcast includes interviews looking at Dreamforce through various angles and professions. They further promote their event by displaying their hashtag and the speaker’s Twitter handle, which is a subtle way of saying: “Hey, tweet about us and our event and the people associated with our event!”
Plus, they create a countdown reinforcing the anticipation they’re building by having host Marissa Kraines state, “We are 63 days out [from Dreamforce].” In addition, she directs viewers to use #RoadtoDF18 to ask questions on Twitter, creating a dialogue with would-be event attendees to build connections and interest.
Key Takeaway: Don’t just promote the event while it’s happening. Build suspense and interest by promoting it well in advance.
Twitter is text-ier than the average social platform, making a tweet with an image attached stand out even more. In fact, tweets with images garner 18% more clicks and 150% more retweets.
CIBC used that to their advantage. First, they opted to share photos of people participating in in their walk to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society. A smart move because people are generally more likely to respond to social media promotions if they see themselves in a post. Normally, this means figuratively, but in this instance it’s very literal for the those in the photos.
Next, they added branded text overlays that named teams participating in their event, another good way to connect with the audience, while at the same time creating visual continuity with their colors and branding. And finally, they turned those photos into a GIF, creating movement and further catching the eye.
Key Takeaway: Don’t just think about the words for your tweets, think about and prepare graphics (or GIFS or videos).
An event isn’t just about attendee experience anymore. It’s about creating something so awesome that attendees feel compelled to post about it on social media. This approach, dubbed “moment marketing,” is becoming increasingly important to how event organizers approach events. In short: Give them something to talk about.
HBO and Giant Spoon re-created the Westworld experience seen on TV for attendees of South by Southwest 2018. The extent they went to is especially impressive. Just like characters on the show, participants picked a black or white cowboy hat. They then entered the town of Sweetwater, where they could engage with more than 60 actors working from 444 pages of script, while attempting to unravel the mystery or adventure of their choice—or at least, the one they stumbled onto.
The careful attention to detail is what made SXSWestworld stand out—though certainly, the uber-clever hashtag riffing on the conference didn’t hurt—and made people want to share it on social media.
Think of it this way: HBO and Giant Spoon took a TV phenomenon and made it an event phenomenon, which made people want to tweet something along the lines of: “I experienced this super-cool thing related to a show that we all love, and I feel compelled to share this on social media.”
Key takeaway: Make your event social media-worthy, and your attendees will promote it for you.
Whether you’re planning one of the largest marketing events of the year or producing an immersive customer activation, Twitter can be your go-to channel for event promotion. Here are some tips to help you effectively use Twitter at your next event:
- Place your hashtag in all the right places. Don’t make participants hunt for it to promote you.
- Create a pre-event promotion strategy to pique interest.
- Use visuals as much as possible, plus plan some out in advance.
- Develop your event with social media photos and buzz in mind to get attendees to do the heavy promotion lifting for you.
To learn more about event promotion and event marketing, check out our guide to Event Moment Marketing below!