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Steal This Idea: How Top Brands Maximize Event ROI with Social Marketing

Steal This Idea: How Top Brands Maximize Event ROI with Social Marketing

New data—Using social media marketing to amplify events

We have long advocated for the idea that live events and social engagement combined can be transformative for a brand or organization.

Social engagement is the secret sauce that makes everything stickier. Engagement, brand affinity, and amplification increase, helping to secure and strengthen the relationship with attendees and extending the brand experience beyond the four walls of an event to a larger audience—ultimately maximizing your event ROI big-time. To help prove this, we partnered with the Event Marketing Institute to develop research and survey a cohort of the world’s top brand marketers. We wanted to find out what works for them when it comes to social media marketing for events.

Here’s what we learned:

Growing Pains: The data doesn’t lie! 70 percent of brand marketers agree that viral efforts and social engagement are very important for events. They "get" the importance of creating memorable moments that can be shared across social channels. Yet only 16 percent say they are “very effective” at generating viral impact from their event, and only 21 percent feel they are “effective.” 

Insider tip: Want to know what works when it comes to social strategy for events? Check out our best practices

Pre-Event Promotion: Study participants told us that they use social media before their event to increase awareness, drive attendance and registration, and ultimately provide information to attendees. At 77 percent, Facebook was considered the most effective platform for this type of activity among the marketers.

Insider tip: Facebook has made some changes to how it serves up content from brands—making it extremely difficult to reach audiences without utilizing Facebook's advertising options. A year from now, we imagine Facebook will no longer be considered top dog for pre-event engagement.

Digging In On-Site: Everything changes when it comes to social media during the event. The marketers said that once on-site, they were using their channels to promote various aspects of the event (73 percent) and also share photos and content (55 and 50 percent, respectively). No surprise here: Twitter wins the day for on-site engagement effectiveness (73 percent) thanks to the real-time nature of the channel and the ubiquitous hashtag curating conversations around specific topics.

Insider tip: Don’t be surprised if Instagram surges ahead of Facebook for the No. 2 spot when it comes to social marketing for events. The visual nature of the platform, and the widely adopted use of hashtags, make it the perfect network for capturing the unique moments of a brand experience. 

Memorializing the Moment: The report indicated that top marketers continue to leverage social engagement after the event is over. Most focus on reliving highlights (54 percent) to keep the warm and fuzzies going after everyone has gone back to their regular day-to-day life. Other key focus areas include leveraging influencers (47 percent) and summarizing the content from the event (41 percent). Of the largest companies surveyed (those with over $500M in revenue), leveraging influencers was at the tippy-top of their post-event social priorities at a whopping 69 percent. At 55 percent, Facebook takes over once again—but YouTube (44 percent) is also considered an effective resource post-event. 

Insider tip: No matter the size of your organization, the time immediately following an event is a great time to leverage your influencers. They’ve just dedicated their time to be with you on-site—don’t lose that momentum! Stay engaged and keep the conversation (and sharing) flowing! 

Dedication and Determination: In order to succeed in social engagement, you must be dedicated to it—in terms of budget and manpower. 60 percent of the largest companies surveyed in the study (those with over $500M in revenue) indicated that they have a budget allocated specifically for viral efforts related to events. 59 percent of this same cohort indicated that they have a dedicated team working on event-related social media efforts. It’s important to them, so they find the resources needed to do it right.

Insider tip: When done right, social engagement can truly drive engagement and amplify the reach of your event. This goes beyond creating a hashtag and hiring an intern to monitor the networks. A real social media strategy ladders up not only to event goals and objectives, but also to the overall business goals for the organization. Make sure you have the proper team and resources in place to succeed!

Want more on the viral impact of events and what works when it comes to social engagement? Download the full research report

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Katherine Zimoulis

VP, Content Marketing

It's her job to tell the stories of the incredible work being accomplished at Freeman and to share the deep insights found within the organization. She believes in the power of the written word just as much as the power of face-to-face engagement. Both mediums can move you in ways you never...

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