September 21, 2017
 
Get the Most from any Event with Social Media

By Jess Krywosa and Christine Turnier

Christine Turnier, left, and Jess Krywosa
No longer a fad, social media has become a strategic tool for nonprofits to promote, inform, and engage communities before, during, and after events – and to shape the conversations their community is having about their events and especially about their brand.

If the 2012 presidential debates are any indication, people are using social technologies to engage in events before, while, and after they occur. This includes live, virtual, and broadcast events, conferences, fundraisers, and campaigns. It also provides a way for an event to 'live’ and incorporate more participation.

Though many tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Storify can help you, do not think of event socialization as platform specific. It’s really about the unique opportunities that the shift in behavior represents. Put the conversation and community first – the platforms will follow.

Strategy First

The first step is to develop a strategy. Ask yourself about your organization’s key marketing goals. What are the objectives for the event? How will you go about achieving these goals, and how will using social technology to promote and engage during your event accomplish key objectives? Depending on these goals, your plan could be implemented and success measured in any number of ways. Do this work upfront and you’ll be able to assign real value to these activities.

You should also spend a significant amount of time researching your audience. Who are you trying to reach? Are they gravitating to certain platforms or methods of communication? How will engaging and galvanizing this community support your cause?

Once you’ve established your objectives, goals, and strategy, you’re ready to get down to business. Implementing an event socialization plan has three distinct phases: Before, During, and After.

Before the Event

Research your audience to make sure you’ve developed an integrated plan that reaches the community you most want to engage. Build your plan around their needs and any known engagement behavior. Provide valuable content in the lead up to the event to generate excitement and provide context for event to come.

During the Event

This is where the fun begins. You may need a small team to make sure you’re capturing and curating the most valuable content. For example, you may need one person to conduct a live webinar while another staff member monitors an event hashtag for interesting comments from the audience.

After the Event

First things first: thank those who participated. Be it a live one-hour event or a three-week long virtual one, everyone likes to be acknowledged and appreciated for taking part. Share highlights from the event, reinforcing key takeaways or inflection points. This will allow you to continue the conversation with your community. Remember: this event wasn’t all about you. This is also a good time to empower participants by asking them what they thought and to share their experiences.

The event is over, so your work is over, right? Not quite. In many respects, now is when the real work begins. To fully realize your strategy, you want to build off the momentum you’ve created. Actively engage your community and crowdsource ideas to improve your next event, your organization’s services, or any other important issues. You’ve brought this community together, now give them the tools that they need to succeed in carrying your mission forward.

We all understand that social media are now an integral part of our lives. They are how we receive news, reach out to friends and colleagues and provide updates on our lives to others. But they also allow us to associate ourselves with the types of brands that we want to be identified with. By opening the doors to sharing event highlights via social channels, your advocates endorse your cause and you, expanding your reach to those who may never have heard of you in a highly personal way: through a trusted friend.

Jess Krywosa and Christine Turnier are principals at Tidal Strategies, which helps individuals and organizations develop smarter social media strategies. Email to Jessica@tidalstrategies or Christine@tidalstrategies.

January 2013

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