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The Importance of Social Media at Events – De·fined.

As I returned from live tweeting & monitoring a client’s annual event, I began thinking of a very recent addition to the event planning industry: social media. It occurred to me that although many people understand that it is an important aspect to the industry today, they may not know why.

So here they are: my five reasons to use social media at your event.

am·pli·fy: verb. increase the volume of (sound), esp. using an amplifier

Increase the volume of your event’s voice by starting the conversation early. Let social media platforms be your amplifier and create a buzz. Involve your audience by sharing photos of preparation, factoids from previous events and sneak peeks into the schedule. And don’t forget to ask your audience for their opinions! At SXSW, 30 percent of programming is chosen by attendees before the event. Talk about buzzworthy!

Here’s a real buzzworthy story. In 2009, a rumor that Dave Chappelle was in Portland caught on like wildfire on Twitter. Eventually, it was speculated that he was going to do a midnight impromptu show at Pioneer Courthouse Square.  This was never confirmed or denied, but more than 5,000 people showed up just in case. Luckily for the attendees, Chappelle did show, and social media was the only reason he had an audience. I am not suggesting creating a rumor to get people to come to your event, but I am suggesting you use the power of word of mouth on social and get people talking.

in·form: verb. give (someone) facts or information

Duh! Give your audience the details. Dates, times, parking, performance line up, schedule, prices, bathroom locations, etc., etc. But what am I forgetting? Your attendees know, and they will ask for the forgotten information. Monitor for those questions and respond.

con·nect: verb. join together so as to provide access and communication

Another duh! Social media is made for this. Create a Foursquare check-in so attendees can share where they are on Facebook and see who else is attending your event. In Twitter and Instagram, develop a hashtag specifically for your event and encourages attendees to use it. This allows users to see what the conversation is in real time and easily interact with each other. It also allows you to broaden your event beyond the walls of the venue. Those who cannot attend can still monitor what’s happening, see photos, watch videos and ultimately feel included.

safe·guard: verb. protect from harm or damage with an appropriate measure

No matter if an event is small or large, security is always of the utmost importance. When Raidious worked with Super Bowl XLVI, our primary concern was security. The Super Bowl Host Committee was directly connected with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, and we had an outlined emergency action plan if something were to go astray. Because we were monitoring the event in real time, there was a good chance of our team being the first to get wind of an emergency or suspicious behavior. We also had the ability to very quickly inform our followers of danger and the best way to evacuate or stay safe. We never had to execute our plan and I hope no one reading this ever has to, but be ready. Create an action plan and monitor for emergencies.

an·lyze: verb. examine methodically and in detail the constitution or structure of something, typically for purposes of explanation and interpretation

Finally, once the event is all said and done, don’t you want to know if it was a success or not? How many articles were written? How many photographs were taken? What was the most engaging aspect? What was the worst? Was it better than last year’s event? Was it more popular than a competitor’s event? There are tools out there that will look at your social media & online efforts and give you this information. We use them and so should you.

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