Top 5 ways to do strategic social media at nonprofit events
Social media integration is a huge component of running an event as it allows you to engage internally with event guests as well as with a larger external audience. Here are our tips to establishing a solid social media strategy for your event!
1. Curate Content
Content is everything. It’s important to note that Twitter still seems to be a viable platform for events, while Instagram is starting to become useful for participants sharing photos of the event, and Facebook is to share related articles. It is crucial to gain an understanding of why your audience is attending this event, and provide additional content which enhances their experience. Scheduling a few statistics as tweets are great to get the conversation going at the beginning of the day, but most of the content will come from quotes from panelists, and comments and tweets from the audience. For conferences where people are sitting at tables and watching a discussion, tweets are usually quite active, whereas in events where the audience is an active participant they not have many opportunities to tweet and post. Have a designated staff person to tweet every 6-10 minutes about the event with photos, so your participants (and the audience at home) can reflect on the event. You shouldn’t be posting every single word your speakers are saying – the idea is to have a summary of the key points and interesting observations. Of course, be sure to thank everyone on every social media platform at the end of the event. You are the online voice of your organization and instead of shouting about yourself, you want to enter in a conversation that is inclusive and useful to your visitors.
2. Keep the Conversation Going
In many cases, your audience will catch quotes and comments that you might not. The conversation is the largest reason why people engage with social media during events and it serves as the catalyst for connecting your organization to your audience. Be sure to favourite and share posts by others that is conducive to your organization’s voice. Sometimes, it is helpful to have 2 people managing social media at a large event with one person responsible for posting original content directly from the account, while the other is in charge of favouriting, sharing, and commenting on others’ posts. Additionally, having a cover photo on Twitter and Facebook which promotes the event can be an effective and immediate way to captivate your audience.
3. Engage Volunteers in Nonprofit Events
Volunteers are the life force in making these events happen. They are also your social media ambassadors. While providing services to visitors or event logistics are a top priority, encourage your volunteers to tweet and post photos throughout the event. If you have a social media contest or some other online initiative, all volunteers should contribute. Encourage them to post from their personal accounts though you should be conscious of those who do not have social media accounts or a phone/laptop to post from. Allow them to engage in other ways by talking to visitors about social media, or provide equipment that they can use.
4. Make a One page Tip sheet
Be careful about screaming ‘use social media!’. Instead of it seeming like an ambiguous or complex process, empower your audience by giving them the tools to engage. Digitally, our audience is all over the map. Some use social media every minute, while others may only open their Twitter account only for events. We understand that while some people are experienced tweeting and posting, many others are willing to engage but want some guidance on how to do so. One way to encourage social media is to draft a tip sheet and provide it to volunteers and post it around the event or include it in delegate packages. This tip sheet can include relevant social media handles of speakers and hashtags for your organization and event, key messages, sample tweets, and any contests or other initiatives, making it easier for your event guests to participate and for you to track the conversation.
5. Leverage Trends and Creative Activities
Sometimes we jump on the bandwagon. Trends such as the #selfie, or it’s group version, the #usie, have grown exponentially on social media in addition to contests for organizations. It’s important to know your audience – are they the type of demographic and psychographic group that are already engaging in these trends from their personal accounts? Also, dig a little deeper – at the core, why are these trends successful? The #usie is meant to connect people and show our social circles. If this is what your event is intended to accomplish, use it! Don’t be intimidated or constrained by trends, but allow them to expand your thinking and inspire other ways to creatively engage with your followers.
Also bear in mind the nature of your event. Is it a space where people might feel too vulnerable to take a self portrait in front of 400 other people? Or are there team building exercises where there are opportunities for group photos? Photos can be used as great documentation, but there are other ways to engage, such as contests and raffles. For example, you could get people post a photo of their favourite moment of the day and then do a draw for a winner. Many of these initiatives are not limited to events, but can be scheduled in the day-to-day social media of your organization.
About the authors
Aman Vellani and Tara Mazurk were the ONN Conference 2014 social media duo that helped ONN garner over 1.5 million impressions and got the #onn2014 hashtag trending across Canada.
Tara has been volunteering with ONN since 2013, helping create and roll out communications projects. She is currently the Curator with Humber College’s art gallery and collection, and gets her policy kick through work with the Canadian Arts Coalition and Canadian Artists’ Representation Ontario. She’s a lifelong learner, a loose-leaf tea fanatic, and enjoys rocking out to 80’s hair metal (mostly in her kitchen, while baking cookies…).
An Ivey Business School grad, Aman currently works at the Aga Khan Museum. In the past, she has worked in a variety of communication and strategic partnership roles, including at Smart Solutions UWO and at MommiesFirst Inc. Two of her loves are great meals shared together and soccer, where she regularly gets into discussions, both heated and otherwise, with friends who support opposing teams.