How to utilise social media for events

By Richard Dodgson, Creative Director at Timebased Events

Events and social media are perfect companions. Events create the content and social media is now the leading outlets for brand-customer communication. They provide the opportunity to create greater exposure and expand the lifespan of an event.
The success of any event relies solely on the logistics, planning and awareness building beforehand. Without success in these areas, the event can never be a triumph.

Social media now dominates a large degree of society. It provides direct access to either your buying public or as a possible “consumer” to an event, brand or celebrity. Previously, neither party have enjoyed the luxury of this simple communication, and now that it’s possible, it needs to be exploited.

Social media can be used to generate pre-event awareness, and build anticipation. People will share messaging, teasers and information to help publicise the event. This can include photos of the invitations and goodie bags to build anticipation. Photos and videos are the most shared content online.

GQ Awards

Reminding guests what happened last year (or last time) by linking back to older web content and reminding them why it’s going to be an amazing event is a simple, but very effective, tactic. As is messaging specific attendees’ accounts and relevant hashtags to create a traceable theme. Hashtags can also tap into wider social media threads of conversation. Perhaps #london is trending, or you want to post something about your event on #tbt (#throwbackthursday). Or maybe it’s a #fashion event about #style. Any of these will open your event up to a wider demographic and increase the chances of the right people seeing what you’re doing, get involved and help to make it a grand success!

An excellent example of a brand using an event to create content and develop brand awareness is the GQ Men of the Year Awards hosted by British GQ. Now in its 17th year this annual evening event has become one of the most high profile and talked about events in show biz, generating a huge amount of content for the British GQ brand.
Primarily the event creates interesting stories about the award winners themselves and their achievements. From sportsmen, TV personalities and politicians, to writers, musicians and legends – the range of Award categories generates a broad mix of stories with broad ranging appeal for British GQ’s brand audience.
GQ then uses a range of formats – photos, video content and interviews, to publish these stories through multiple channels. This is chiefly through a dedicated section of their web site and in a special edition of the printed magazine. But also through their social media accounts which all generate brand awareness and also direct audiences back to British GQ web site and magazine itself.
In addition to the awards winners’ stories, other content that the event generates includes which other celebrities attended, what they all wore and what the venue looked like. Then there’s the low down on who said what, who did what and who posed for selfies with whom.
During the live event, both guests and the wider audience use social media channels to follow the action and share comments. Then, post-event, British GQ benefits from online press, traditional printed media and broadcast coverage where journalists have collated all these stories, even reporting on the social media streams from the event such as the celebrity selfies on Instagram.

The GQ Men of the Year Awards enjoys the luxury of attracting a range of A-list stars who help to create attention on the event, but it wasn’t always liked that. They too had to start out from scratch, with very few celebs, and build their recognition and social media awareness. The detail above outlines a range of the best practices to get any event potentially trending and create the buzz that everyone wants to feel a part of.