B2B events are back – in a big way!
Everything from the shut-down-the-city Dreamforce-type events to sophisticated branded confabs like Gainsight’s Pulse Conference, SaaStr’s SaaStr Annual, and Zuora’s Subscribed, to the many community-oriented meetups happening each and every week.
But one thing hasn’t changed – events are a huge investment in time and resources for everyone involved! So how do you make sure your events turn into more than just a random pile of business cards to load into your marketing automation platform?
Here’s Leadtail’s cheat sheet for a practical, repeatable, social media strategy for B2B events.
If you don’t invest in organizing and preparing ahead of the event, you will simply never get the full value from your investment. So, get out your notebook – this section’s a doozy!
Put all key event data into a shared calendar. Each calendar item should be comprehensive and provide all applicable information including: important dates and times (be sure to indicate the time zone!), location and address details, online details such as the URL and event hashtag(s), and a list of who’s attending from your company, along with their Twitter, Instagram, and/or LinkedIn profile URLs.
Leverage speaker and sponsor lists. This is your best indicator of who is for sure going to be at the event – handily presented alongside their company, title, and usually their social media contact info. And – no surprise – they’re hoping to have a successful event and make meaningful connections while they’re there, too! ID anyone in particular you’d like to meet at the event. Reach out via social media or email ahead of the event to set up a meeting if you can, or attend their sessions and hang out for Q&A or meet and greets afterward.
Get the word out about your presence at the event. Provide lots of social media “air cover” via your corporate social media accounts to let folks know how to connect with your team at the event. Also, provide the people who will be attending the event with imagery or draft posts they can use to quickly and easily share the news with their network.
Your social media team should do a few other things ahead of the main event:
- Add event hashtags and URLs to your social listening setup. Keep an eye out for other interesting people who are talking about the event or saying they plan to attend.
- Choose a couple secondary hashtags to use on posts. Broaden the audience for your posts beyond those attending the event. Good bets are hashtags that put posts into context for a specific role (e.g. #CFO, #CIO, #CMO, #developers) or by a relevant area of interest (e.g., #fintech, #AI, #innovation, #DevOps)
- Reach out to your known social posse. Do you have customers, advocates, key influencers, or other members of your community in the city where the event is taking place? Reach out pre-event to see who may be attending (or, if you have promo-codes or passes to distribute, who might like to attend).
- Setup a simple mechanism for people on the ground to relay info to the social team. A “social alias” (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org) that hits the right folks’ inboxes, or a Slack channel (if you’re hip like that) are ideal since people already know to use them, and are likely to have them on their phones.
- Brief the team. Don’t skip this step. Don’t send it in an email and assume everyone is good to go. Get 15-30 minutes with the team that’s going to cover the event on-site and back at the office and walk through who is doing what, when. Make sure on-site staff have the social alias as a contact in their phone. Make sure the social team has the list of accounts and hashtags they’ll be following on “game day”. Having each other’s phone number in case something goes sideways never hurt, either 😉
During the Event
I’m going to let you in on a secret… doing things in “real time” on social media is highly overrated. The goal of having the team at the event on social media is NOT to document what happens as it happens.
Instead, we want to support making real face to face connections between attendees and our team members, and capture content that can be repurposed after the event.
Event Team (on-site)
- Post to your individual social media accounts. Include pictures and hashtags, and whenever possible, get the name and company of other people in the photo.
- Send items to the social team via the designated Slack channel or social email alias.
- Look and listen for interesting moments. If you hear an interesting quote in a session, or have a great conversation in the booth, jot it down (along with who said it).
- The people in front of you are more important than social media. Don’t get lost in your phone trying to whip off the world’s cleverest Tweet. Smile, engage, connect, and most of all have fun!
Social Team (remote)
- Actively monitor the Slack channel and social alias inbox during the event.
- Keep a close eye on the social feeds of team members in attendance; share and cross post relevant content to other social channels.
- Track the event hashtag(s) for opportunities to engage with attendees. Engagement means responding to what they’re saying, not hammering every event related post with comments or replies to “check us out at booth X”.
- Focus your posting schedule on “transition” times like breaks, meals, between sessions, and before happy hour. Conference-going can be hectic, and these are the moments where attendees are scrolling their own feeds to discover who’s there, what’s hot, and where to go next.
- Don’t throw anything away (yet). Okay, those fuzzy iPhone photos with no additional context of what you’re looking at – you can toss those. But hold on to photos or quotes or comments from the team, even if you don’t end up sharing them via the corporate social media handles. They may help with post-event content.
Phew. You made it. Good job, team!
But our event-related work isn’t quite done. The third act of the social media cheat sheet for events is what really brings it all together. This is when we synthesize all the stuff the team heard, saw, and said at the event into the springboard that keeps the engagement going and reignites those conversations you were having at the after party… I mean “booth” 🙂
- Publish a recap blog post with 5-15 “shoutouts” to other people and/or companies that you engaged with at the event. Notify all the people and companies you mentioned in your post that they were included, and tag them when you share the post.
- Create a Twitter moment that highlights some of the best Tweets from the show. These can be your greatest hits, or a curated mix that includes your corporate posts, your team, and even third parties like partners, customers, advocates, sponsors, etc.
- Make a Facebook photo album using the same approach as above – tag people and companies featured in the photos.
- Cross-promote your post-event content across your social networks: Let your LinkedIn company followers know about the Twitter Moment and Photo Album, share the wrap up blog post and any earned media coverage you received based on your event presence.
- Review the people who used the event hashtag and follow/connect with them. After all, if they were interested in the event, there’s probably some common ground there!
- Debrief with the team. Don’t skip this step either! Summarize the impact and share some highlights of your social media moments from the event, or the performance of the post-event content. Find out what worked well for the folks on the team, and how things can be better next time.
Just remember to put the focus on meaningful connections and content, and you’ll be keeping the event vibe going long after the last badge has been liberated from its lanyard.
Got your own “event hack” to add to our cheat sheet? Let us know in the comments!