Recently a friend asked me for suggestions for using social media for community events, specifically a local, community-based rowing crew club in which she and her children are involved. Her goals: more exposure, promote programs, increase interest in membership. Her audience, junior high and high school students and their parents. They were using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A quick review of their website and accounts produced the following recommendations.
Include Links to your Social Profiles on your Website
When using social media at events remember this, if people don’t know you have social media profiles, they aren’t going to follow you there. All social media platforms provide users with brand guidelines and downloadable icons for free. Take advantage of this.
If you’re using WordPress for your website there are loads of plug-ins and widgets that make including them simple. Please don’t go out and steal icons from Google image search, they will not be scalable, the most recent or legal. That’s true for any image you use! Here are some handy links to social media brand resources for you.
- Twitter’s Brand Resources
- Facebook’s Brand Resources
- Instagram’s Brand Resources
- Snapchat’s Brand Resources
Content is King
Make sure the content on your platforms is something that will interest your audience. In this example, I encouraged them to use their Facebook page as a method of communication regarding events, cancellations, fundraisers etc. while also posting content that is interesting to the larger, potential rowing community. Of course, also use your email list to communicate in case people don’t see these posts, but many people, especially in this demographic, rely on social media as their primary mode of communication. Make sure to include your social media profiles in all your emails too.
Also, when crafting your social media posts, don’t assume your potential audience understands your lingo. Remember you are trying to stimulate interest with people who don’t know you. Explain every post clearly and use an image or video to support your content. I hate to see a compelling story or worthwhile community event get lost in translation because people don’t understand your content.
Use Facebook Events Feature
Rather than just posting about your event in a standard post, use the event feature to create an event. Facebook events allow you to add location (connects to your phone’s map app), hours, URLs for tickets, description of events and photos. They also create their own group that allows attendees and the creator of the event to post teasers, additional details and more. These posts will be shared in the timelines of anyone that showed interest in your event. Bonus: attendees can share the events AND invite their friends easily.
Make sure to use your other platforms to cross-promote the event. Each event you create will have its own unique URL which can be shared on Twitter for example.
Here’s an event as an example. Hover over that share button to choose who to invite from your friends’ list.
Use Facebook Live Video During your Event
Back to my friend.
She described to me a recent event that sounded exciting! People watching were cheering and clapping and the tension was palpable. Those kids were amazing with their skill and endurance!
If you’re looking for creative ways to promote an event, here’s a perfect example of where Facebook live could be a great option. Facebook live is getting more reach than any other type of post right now, so it’s a great time for brands to get on board. Facebook pushes promotions of the live event directly to people’s mobile devices, so they do some of the promoting for you. I spoke about using Facebook Live as well as YouTube to promote brands at a recent statewide conference, and here’s the link to the presentation I gave:
Use Instagram to Connect with Younger Audiences
With 700 million active users, Instagram is a fantastic way to connect with audiences, so think about including it in your social media event marketing strategy. In this example, the visual content; boats, water, happy kids, would lend itself well to the platform and to the younger demographic. A recent study by Social Media Today using Google Trends shows that Instagram Stories are at least TWO TIMES more popular than rival Snapchat stories, so use the story feature during events! I point this out because many of you will say: Junior High and High School – we HAVE to be on Snapchat!
Unless you understand the platform and how to grow an audience there, do your research before jumping in. Since, in this case, they were already using Instagram, it makes sense to leverage the audience they have rather than invest energy into growing a new one on another platform.
Hint: one drawback of Instagram, unless you are using the business feature, links in descriptions aren’t clickable. If you’re a business or non-profit, consider converting your account to take advantage of this feature. Also, make sure you at least have your website in your bio and, if you have a special event, there’s no reason you can’t change that link temporarily to point to it and tell people in the description.
Initiate Social Media Account Takeovers
If you want kids and parents involved, I recommended having a participant or parent take over your accounts during an event. Not only will this get them engaged, but also give you valuable insight into what THEY think is post-worthy and exciting. You’ll be able to tell by what they posted during their takeover. Facebook allows you to easily give another user an editor role (don’t give them admin unless you want them to have full control). For Twitter and Instagram, you’ll have to give them the username and password, which you’ll then change after the event.
Some tips before you do a takeover:
Promote the social media takeover before it happens
Take a photo of the student or parent and introduce them to your audience beforehand with a descriptive post. Describe the event they’ll be taking over and why you chose them for the honor. Include their bio and how they are involved in the program. Ask them to promote the fact that they’ll be taking over the account in advance too, in order to encourage more participation.
Choose your social media ambassador wisely
Make sure you can trust this ambassador with spelling, grammar, and responsible content. Consider interviewing them and looking at their public social profiles before you agree. It’s an honor and a privilege to be trusted with someone’s brand, so treat it as such.
Use Signage to Promote your Event
Making banners or posters for your organization or event? Include your social media profiles! Is your event visible to the public, make sure your workers are wearing t-shirts that include your hashtag and put up temporary signs to follow and engage.
Include Attendees in your Social Media Content
During the event, ask attendees and participants if you can take a photo of them with their phone, then give them the hashtag you are using so they can post it. Or take a photo yourself, get their permission to post (in writing is best) and tell them where they can find the photo – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. In most cases, if people are included in a photo they will tag themselves and/or share it. This is social media gold.
Important: ALWAYS get permission before you post a photo of a person. For minors, you often need a parent’s permission to post. In a case like this, it’s a good idea to build that written permission into your entry forms and to consult your organization’s attorney before proceeding. Nothing’s worse than getting hit with problems for posting photos without permission. Buzz kill.
These are all fairly simple organic ways to promote your content and increase reach and engagement. The most important thing you can think about is your audience. What is going to entice them to engage and share? Then promote that content like crazy. That’s how you build a community of engagers.