Managing social media for a live event is nothing like doing it on a daily basis for a brand. For regular management, you often schedule messages for a week or so in advance, check in every few hours and pass on queries to relevant departments. With a live event, everything is happening in the moment.
People asking for directions to the bathroom can’t wait for you to obtain a venue map. Others at home are counting on your posts to determine whether they should attend. Any number of things could go wrong with your equipment at a crucial point in the event when ‘we’re having technical difficulties’ just won’t cut it.
The truth it, preparing to handle social media for a live event has a lot more to do with event planning than it does social media management. So if the former isn’t your forte, here’s a list of the things you need to get in order before your event so you can focus on the stuff you’re actually good at.
Assign roles to social media team
If your event is small (less than 100 guests), one dedicated social media manager will do. Larger events will require more hands. Be sure to divvy up the tasks so that each person knows exactly what they should be doing, or some channel may get abandoned while others get too much attention.
For a small team, break it down by channel – one person handles Twitter, one Instagram, etc. Larger teams can break it down by channel, then role – one person handles posting tweets, one person handles responses and another takes care of hashtag mentions, etc. If you have a tweet screen at the event, have one person dedicated to that to make sure no unacceptable tweets get past the filters.
Establish Social Media Command Center and access points
Large events are typically very stringent on who has access to various points in the venue, and the person planning the layout doesn’t always take the social media team into consideration. Make sure you prepare a list of the things you’ll need and hand it over to the relevant persons. Included on that list should be:
- A secure control room or tent within view and earshot of the stage (secure because you’ll have a lot of tech equipment there)
- Power supply, a surge protector and lighting in the room/tent
- The number of passes/armbands you’ll need for your team and the places you’ll need access to – opt for production access passes instead of media, since these will allow you to go backstage to get quotes and pictures with special guests and take behind-the-scenes pics of the production crew at work.
Create the ultimate event cheat sheet
An event cheat sheet has all the information you might need during the night to create the best social media posts, offer the most accurate information and ensure you’re not forgetting anything in the midst of chaos. Here are the main things your cheat sheet should have (you can add more if you think of anything else):
- Event details – name, venue, start and end times, schedule of activities, hashtag(s), etc.
- Social media handles for event, venue, organizers, partners and sponsors, special guests, attendees, accredited digital media, etc.
- FAQ responses – parking space, bathroom location, speaker/performance order are all things you’ll be asked about pretty frequently
- Roles and contact information for event team members who can answer questions (get more than one phone number in case battery dies)
- Roles of social media team members, especially if you have a large team
Once you’ve created your cheat sheet, print out enough copies so that you have one set to tape on the wall or desk of your command center, a copy for each of your team members and a few backup copies in case anyone loses theirs (which they will) or someone from the event wants one because you’ve been so amazingly meticulous with putting it together.
Secure internet for team and attendees
Some venues have internet, others don’t. Always check what the internet policy is for the venue in question and plan accordingly. If you have a large event, try to get a sponsor to provide wifi and charging posts for your event attendees – that will keep them active online throughout the event.
If it’s a small event and you’re the only person managing social, having a data plan on your phone or a mobile hotspot will suffice (in Jamaica, you can get a MiFi device from LIME or Digicel). With a larger team and lots of attendees, however, you will want to secure internet from an internet company, rather than use data from a mobile company – since their network will be crowded and possibly slow. Internet service providers typically have temporary services for events. Be sure to set a strong password and provide it only to persons on your team. (I usually only input the password on two laptops then provide access to others via Connectify, so I can see who’s online and kick off devices as necessary).
Put together your Social Media Backup Kit
All backup everything. If you do any mobile social media work at all, you should have a backup kit you can grab and go. Here are the things you should include:
- Extra charger for each device (you can include just the cable and a charger base)
- Extension cord
- Surge protector or power strip with multiple outlets
- A wireless modem (in case the venue internet doesn’t work)
I also bring along multiple devices along in case I need to move around with my phone or tablet, rather than being stationary.
Hire a dedicated photographer
Any good social media manager knows the value of quality pictures during and immediately after an event. These are often the most viewed posts on any social media profile. To take advantage of this, ensure you have a good photographer with a decent camera and proper uploading equipment on your team.
Your event photographer should be willing to offload pictures during the event, watermark them if necessary, and provide you access so you can pull a few of the best ones for immediate upload.
Pre-write (and schedule) some of your posts
Pre-writing your posts will save you a ton of time and it’s highly recommended. Once you’ve gotten the program or schedule of activities, write your posts about what’s coming up next, what people can expect later on and where different activities are taking place.
Some persons will pre-schedule these posts too, but I don’t and here’s why. Typically these times, although outlined, are not usually set in stone, so I usually just put these posts in a spreadsheet, or add them to an inactive Buffer stream, then drag them to the appropriate stream and share when the time comes.
Get some cool prizes to keep attendees engaged
Sure you want your attendees to focus on what’s happening at your event and immerse themselves in the experience, but you also want them sharing their experience with others (future potential attendees) and connecting with each other. To keep them tuned in to what’s happening on social media, give them some incentives.
A great way to keep them active and engaged is to offer prizes throughout the event. These prizes can be packages from sponsors, branded event gear, backstage access or a meet and greet with one of your special guests. Include a location component, such as taking a picture of the venue, picking up the prize at a sponsor booth or tweeting about something happening – so that only persons at the venue will be able to enter.
Set up your measurement tools
Finally, but super important – make sure you have all your measurement tools in place so that you can accurately capture all the data you need to put in your post-event report. SumAll is great for tracking social media statistics across most channels, you can also check out Talkwalker and Tagboard for hashtag usage across channels and use IFTTT to set up rules to track relevant messages (for example, you can add the tweets you favourite to a spreadsheet to reference feedback posts).
If you’re really ambitious, you can always create your report template before the event, so all it takes is some filling in and copy and pasting relevant stats after the event.
I’m exhausted just thinking about all these preparations so I imagine you may be overwhelmed too, especially if you’ve not really given this much thought. But don’t worry, it does get easier with time and some activities will only require a few adjustments after doing it the first time. Here’s to hoping your event runs just like a well-oiled machine!