5 Tips for Social Media Event Planning and Activation

Today we bring you a guest post courtesy of Cara Kleinhaut, founder of award-winning event creative, production and design agency Caravents. In the last few weeks alone, Caravents has organized and promoted events ranging from the Essence Black Women of Hollywood pre-Oscar week luncheon to InStyle‘s annual Golden Globes beauty lounge, the Playboy Superbowl party in New Orleans and a D.C. inauguration event sponsored by Target.

Here Cara presents 5 best practices and two case studies in effective social media event promotion and “activation.”

5 Best Practices for Social Media Activation at Big Events

  • Create a short, easy event hashtag. Be fun, relevant and clever when coming up with the hashtag. (Example: #MLKDay2013)
  • Showcase @handles and #hashtags prominently throughout the event on all printed materials, signage, screens, etc. This will make it easy for people to talk about your event on social media.

  • Create stations such as “photo moments” booths where the messaging, handles and hashtags are pre-programmed so that all guests need to do is take their photo and it will automatically be titled (so they don’t need to worry about typing it all in correctly, mis-spelling sponsor names, etc.) Again, you want the social integration to be easy for guests and flow seamlessly throughout the event.
  • Create multiple, fun, branded ways for guests to amplify socially within the event. For example, create easy opportunities for attendees to share when checking in or voting and give them the opportunity to create custom photos, insta-prints, etc.
  • Have dedicated “brand ambassadors” responsible for event host/brand instagramming, pinning, posting and tweeting. Make sure to train and prep your team about how to handle and respond to @replies and mentions. With social, interaction is critical. It’s not enough just to get followers–you want to encourage authentic connection.

Two quick case studies:

One social activation campaign that worked very well concerned the Target-sponsored event we produced for the presidential inauguration on Martin Luther King Day, or President Obama’s National Day of Service. We created fully branded photo stations for guests and the messaging was pre-programmed with the custom event hastag #MLKDay2013 and the correct handles of all sponsors and partners. This “pre-curated” message is really important in taking the “pilot error” out of guests having to type in the handles and hashtags of an event,  and it ensures to your client (the event host) that the right message is being broadcast to all friends, fans and followers.

Caravents also produced the 2013 Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards, which is Essence Magazine’s annual Oscar fete. This year’s event honored Oprah Winfrey among others, and featured a wall where guests could take Instagram shots using the custom event hashtag #essenceredcarpet, thereby ensuring that their photos would be instantly picked up by our “social printers”. Once printed, the images were combined to create a beautiful collage wall that grew and changed as the event progressed, showing all the beautiful women and special moments of the evening. Additionally, we have done a similar installation where these photos are sent digitally to a video wall and layered with moving graphics to create a digital photo wall.