Join the conversation — don't just listen in! These 10 best practices to live social engagement will enable interaction with, and valuable lessons from, your audience.
Social media strategy doesn’t stop at digital channels. We are constantly pushing for clients to think of the bigger picture or as we often say, “the whole ecosystem.” The silo approach doesn’t work in the digital age and should be avoided at all costs. From a user’s perspective, it is valuable to bring together the experience of offline and online tactics in a seamless way. Multitasking to stay connected and multiscreen behavior has become part of the social norm. Consumers aren’t just watching TV or being present at events anymore, they are simultaneously visiting their online social networks. Brands need to be cognizant of these behaviors and build engagement tactics around the way the audience interacts.
Live engagement is a great way for brands to be a part of the conversation -- before, during, and after events whether sponsored or not. We love to get our clients right in the center of their fans’ conversations, on the appropriate platforms, so the brand can interact and learn from their audience.
For me this is an exciting part of our job. No matter how much planning goes into the execution, you never know what newsworthy moments will take place once the event kicks off. It is a time when a brand has an opportunity to embrace risk, establish authority, and at the same time show the value and relevancy of the content they are producing.
Below are 10 best practices we have learned over the years, from planning to execution at the event, and finally, gathering data for optimization.
1. Know your audience
Take time during your planning phase to research your target audience, which includes both 1) fans at the event and 2) engaged fans online. Be knowledgeable with what type of content they would be looking for and how they like to be communicated with.
2. Create and promote an event hashtag
Hashtags are becoming more known for the average user. People have come to expect the use of a hashtag in most campaigns. When deciding on a hashtag make sure it is unique to your initiative and communicated clearly across all marketing channels including all printed materials.
3. Develop a content calendar
Although most of the content will be driven by spontaneous activity it is imperative to be prepared for a variety of scenarios. The more content you can plan for and schedule up front will free up the time to create better “on-the-fly” engagement.
4. Build “People to talk to” lists
Identify key players who will be present at the event and influential in the digital space. This could include celebrities, athletes, media sources, subject matter experts and more. Make sure to keep track of all their active social media handles in a convenient format such as Twitter lists.
5. Tease and engage early
Although an event may be weeks away the planning and posting should start early. Depending on the activities, it will be important to gauge when the best time to start is. Usually a rule of thumb is to lightly tease two weeks out and increase activity as the event approaches and kicks off. You don’t want to lose your audience before opening day.
6. Collaborate with influencers
Make a point to build relationships with different levels of influencers well in advance of the event. Look for opportunities to bring value to the influencer and their audience. This could be free event attendance; breaking news content; backstage passes, meet and greets, and more. Get creative to give the influencer a personal reason to talk about you!
7. Be prepared
We can never stress enough how important it is to be ready for any possible, unplanned activity or issue. Staff appropriately to have both strategic and creative minds involved. The team needs to be able to move at the first sign of another Super Bowl blackout. This includes several team rehearsals and tech checks.
8. Use tracking tools
You have prepared for the great moment from a planning and creative side and now it’s time to see how your plan works. Establish tracking tools to run before, during and after the event so you can find learnings and insight for the next live engagement event.
9. Recap memorable moments
During event engagement there may be a whirlwind of information and conversations. Make sure to keep notes of people you need to follow back up with online. Fans love to be acknowledged during and after events, which means taking the time and effort to follow up.
10. Do a postmortem to plan for next year
The event has ended and the data is in. Gather the team together to analyze every aspect of involvement from start to finish. Uncover strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to improve for the next time around.
What brand do you think is currently engaging with their fans in a meaningful way during live events?