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Master the Art of Social Media for Events


Give your social media strategy a pick-me-up.

When hosting an event, social media can play a crucial role in promotion, engagement and drumming up business. So in an effort to help event professionals master the art of social media, I recently hosted a webinar. 

Prior to the webinar, I sent a survey to find out what eventprof's major social media pain points were so I could tailor the content accordingly. Working through the survey responses, I discovered that two questions kept resurfacing:

  1. How do I get people to engage with my brand?
  2. How do I get people to register for my events?
However, once I began preparing the presentation content, I discovered that these are not in fact two separate questions. You see, getting people to engage with your brand on social media is only the beginning of the journey. The real business goal is getting them to convert (read: register for an event, download a white paper, request a demo, etc.).
With that in mind, I set out to share a bit of insight into how I think about lead generation via social media at DoubleDutch.

What is social media anyway?

Salesforce's  2015 State of Marketing report surveyed over 5,000 global marketers to understand their top priorities for digital marketing this year. The report found that the top five areas for increased marketing spending are:
  1. Social media advertising (70% of marketers)
  2. Social media marketing (70% of marketers)
  3. Social media engagement (67% of marketers)
  4. Location-based mobile tracking (67% of marketers)
  5. Mobile applications (66% of marketers)
Notice a trend here? Social media has officially grown up to be a mature part of the marketing toolkit. So, what is social media?
My favorite definition comes from The Beginner's Guide to Social Media by Moz which describes social media as, "...a way for people to communicate and interact online." It's that simple. Social networks, or communities, are online spaces created for the purpose of sharing and engaging with others.
As brands jumped into social media, the space changed. It's no longer just users creating and sharing content, it's brands too. Now, what does any of this have to do with events?

Let's talk social media for events.

Events, in essence, are about two things: content and community. We attend events to learn more about our interests (work or personal) and to meet and connect with likeminded individuals. See the connection?

When I think about the social media strategy here at DoubleDutch, I look at it in three phases: listen, engage, and measure. Let's dive in.

Phase 1: Listening

First, take the pulse of the industry you serve. See what topics others are posting about across different networks and identify trends among them. Look for things like commonly used hashtags, influential members of the community, and especially your competitors. Consider how you will add value to these conversations in ways that go beyond just re-sharing content.

Pro Tip: Leverage the work you've already done in other marketing channels (like SEO/SEM) to identify more keywords that you can track and listen to.

Once you've completed your brainstorm, put these keywords into buckets. At DoubleDutch, I have several different buckets that I monitor including our Money Keywords, Speakers/Thought Leaders, and Broad Keywords.

Money Keywords are directly related to our space.

Speakers/Thought Leaders are influential members of our community.

Broad Keywords are less directly related, but still relevant.

Use social media software, like HootSuite (pictured below), to create listening streams out of these buckets. Set times throughout the day to revisit these streams and see what people are talking about. What content seems to be resonating with people? What is getting the most retweets? Who is actively talking about your space, and is there an opportunity to engage them in a conversation?

If you're looking to start advertising on social media, apply these same keyword buckets to your campaign targeting tools. This works especially well in an ad platform like Twitter, which enables you to deliver promoted tweets based on a user's tweet behavior on the network.

Pro Tip: Remember that you are always in the listening phase. Actively seek out conversations to engage in.

Phase 2: Engage

Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, suggests users follow the "4-1-1 rule on Twitter. He suggests that for every 1 self-promotional tweet, users should retweet someone, and share 4 pieces of content created by others.

I believe this same structure can be applied to other social networks as well, but be aware that the rate of which content moves on Twitter is much faster than Facebook or LinkedIn where users aren't creating or sharing content so rapidly. Posting 6 times a day on Facebook might be overkill for some brands and could ultimately cost you some likes.

Self-promotional posts include anything from "request a demo" to "register for my event" and "download this eBook".

A retweet (or repost as I'll refer to it) is directly resharing a piece of content from another user.

Sharing content requires listening to your community to identify relevant information that should be shared.

As you're listening to the content and information being shared by your community, always look for opportunities to engage with other users. These engagement points are incredibly important because they could turn into your next customer!

Pro Tip: Have an opinion! Simply resharing content from a thought leader adds value to the community, but opinions start conversations.

For those of you looking to advertise, know that your campaigns are always listening for the behaviors you identified in Phase 1 and delivering promoted content to users based on these behaviors. Create tailored audiences based on users who have engaged with your content or website. These are considered conversions and are highly valuable people to target and move down the funnel.

One tool I find particularly interesting is Insightpool, which, "helps you find and connect with new influencers and prospects" through a new type of social media automation software. The tool listens for a users' buying intent based on activity, flags and adds them to segmented nurture tracks, which engages them at set intervals based on additional behaviors. It's like email automation for social media.

Phase 3: Measure

Every strategy requires continual measurement and optimization in order to improve performance, and social media is no different. By looking at both qualitative and quantitative data created from your strategy you'll be able to fine-tune keyword targeting, messaging and timing for engagements that drive business results.

Pro Tip: Look for keywords that are generating impressions but not engagements and decide if they are worth your time (and money) to monitor.

Social Media is Cyclical

Once you've identified which keywords are working (and which aren't), apply that information to the listening and engage phases of your strategy. Continue to optimize keyword streams and campaigns for key performance metrics and pretty soon you'll be a social media lead gen machine.

If you're interested in talking more about social media, tweet me!

By DoubleDutch Insider | January 29, 2015

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