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How to Integrate Social Media Into Special Events

The People’s Choice Awards and the Golden Globe Awards happened last week. If you are like me and too cheap for cable, you took to social media to check out everything that happened from who wore what to what crazy memes were created that night. Check out this new trend called #Lawrencing inspired by Jennifer Lawrence’s Dior dress. Colton Haynes from Arrow is getting in on it as well on Instagram.

Whether you’re planning an awards ceremony, conference or grand opening of a restaurant, social media is an inexpensive way to build buzz with your audience. The trick is simply to know which social media tools to use and when to use them.

Before Your Event

The first step is to make people aware of your event and mark it on their calendar. There are many ways in which you can use social media to raise awareness. First, create a memorable hashtag for your event (ex. #PCA, #TCA14, #GoldenGlobes) and start using it in all your event-related tweets. Encourage other people to do the same when tweeting about your event.

To give an incentive for people to tweet out your hashtag and spread the word, you can offer a free pass or door prize to one lucky hashtag-er. You will get a lot of buzz just through your followers’ tweets!

If your event is large enough, consider giving it its own Twitter account to engage with followers, answer questions and add credibility to the event. Remember to tweet about new sponsors, guest speakers or ask questions that might help shape the event. Finally, ask for people to share your event with a simple, “Please RT!” when you tweet about your event.

Contact your local social calendar websites to see if they will post about your event on their website, helping you can reach a wider audience. You can also update your Facebook status with news of your event and create a Facebook event. Create an event on your organization’s page and invite all your friends to attend. Make the event open to the public and ask guests to share it. Don’t forget to post the same info on your other social platforms like Tumblr and YouTube!

During Your Event

Encourage guests to live tweet about your event using the given hashtag. Have the hashtag on display and have your speakers mention it during their speech. People can tweet out memorable moments and Instagram pictures from your event. Consider having a television screen somewhere at the event that will update in real-time with tweets and pictures that use the event hashtag.

There are so many ways to use video at your event as well! Do some quick interviews with attendees and speakers on Flip cams or live stream the event with

Use a check in app like Foursquare. It costs nothing to create an event in Foursquare and attendees who are into location-based apps will want to check in to your event! Since many people link their Foursquare activity to Twitter and Facebook, check-ins reach all of their friends and followers. You can greatly increase the number of check-ins by adding signs and table-top displays reminding people to check in, and even have a giveaway or random drawing.

After Your Event

After a successful event, it’s time to get back to work. Write a blog about the event, talk about how it went, promote the highlights and how the next one could be even better. Have attendees share their experiences and their thoughts through Twitter and Facebook as well. You can create a free survey through SurveyMonkey to get feedback from your guests. Use this feedback to improve your event or as quotes on your website.

How do you integrate social media into your events? Have you tried live tweeting or interviewing attendees? Let me know what worked and what didn’t in the comments section below or tweet me directly at @YuppItsDebbie.