Beyond posting to your timeline or grid, social platforms offer several features that can create major impacts on attendee capture and interaction. Social media’s role in our communications has grown to essential status, but many of its features are still considered merely “novel” or “trendy” without examining what they truly accomplish. An effective social strategy that drives engagement will take advantage of as many features as possible AND use them effectively. The more ground you cover, the more likely you are to reach attendees and provide interaction options that they’ll actually use.
Instagram and Facebook stories, for example, are often under-considered when developing event social strategies. Their location at the very top of the interface makes them great attention grabbers, as users will see them immediately upon opening the app. Users are likely to look at stories first and post to them more frequently, creating an Instagram phenomenon where users alert their followers of new posts by sharing them to their own stories. A social strategy that overlooks their importance could result in content that’s never seen.
As planners continue to experiment with new approaches to virtual event planning, many are finding themselves occupying duel roles as event planners and interaction designers, in many cases reinventing the wheel where the hard work has already been done. Although custom platforms are often necessary for accomplishing event goals (you can read more on why we love them here), it’s worth considering how external social media features shape the attendee experience.
Here are some of our favorite features and tips to drive engagement at your next virtual event.
Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn Live
Many social platforms offer the ability to live stream your event content, helping you reach a larger audience where they already are. The popularity of these apps and the functionality of their notifications make them incredibly convenient and effective for reaching audiences in real-time. Of course, streaming your event on social media will make it inherently more accessible to the general public, meaning that it’s a better fit for product launches and free education sessions than private meetings.
Facebook event pages create a natural networking space for attendees before, during, and after the event. Providing a link to the Facebook event group as part of registration confirmation encourages attendees to log on and start engaging right away. They’re also a great place to build excitement as the event date approaches by sharing content daily.
Offering a Q&A on your own event platform is a great way to drive engagement, but if your goal is to capture as large of an audience as possible, you won’t reach anyone who is not already logged on. By encouraging attendees to tweet their questions using a moderated hashtag, you can create the same experience while broadening your reach.
Instagram Countdown Timer
A widget offered on Instagram Stories, countdown timers build excitement and allow users to set up reminder alerts. Attendees can also share the countdown timer to their own stories, passing on their excitement to new audiences.
Live Event Updates
So often, planners will orchestrate an intentional social media strategy that goes up to the minute the event starts and then goes silent. Posting regular updates, session reminders, and highlights throughout the event won’t just help attendees stay engaged, it will help them feel looked after. If your social presence has been strong for weeks and you’ve captured an audience, disappearing at the last moment could deflate their excitement and create logistical and technical problems for attendees who have learned to check your social pages for updates and even tech support.
As a general rule of thumb, attendees are more likely to engage at virtual events when they already understand the tools you present them with. It’s important to look at each platform one by one and look for quick, easy, and effective interaction. By considering features they already use, you’re more likely to pick ones that your attendees will be excited to use at your event.