Platforms such as Instagram have long been effective ways for event professionals to share their work and find new business. But with live gatherings temporarily on hold, how can companies find new content to post? Is it appropriate to get more personal? What platforms are effective now?
Here’s some of your questions answered…
All my events are on hold. How can I find new content to post?
“The key is to stay true to your brand and brand values,” says marketing consultant D. Channing Muller, founder of DCM Communications. “Every post doesn’t have to include a call to action that says ‘Buy from me!’ for it to be promoting your business. As my college counselor taught me while writing admissions essays, ‘Show, don’t tell.’ … Use photos from past events or inspirational images that align with your brand to simply keep the conversation with your followers (and a larger audience) going during this time.”
Older photos and content can also help emphasize the importance of the face-to-face event industry. “It reminds everyone that while the art of gathering may be on pause temporarily, these moments are more important than we ever gave them credit for,” points out Christie Altendorf, Senior Event Planner and Marketing Manager for D’Amico Catering.
“Posting older photos allows for reflection on moments and celebrations that were particularly meaningful.”
How can I use social media to help my go-to vendors?
Credit, credit, credit! Tagging the team you worked with is always a social media best practice for event pros, and it is more crucial than ever right now as event businesses are struggling financially. Credit your photographers and videographers and make sure to tag the vendors you worked with on the pictured event.
Katie Webb Brundige and Meghan Clem, Co-Founders of Intertwined Events, are using social media for live giveaways that highlight their small business partners. They’re also using their platforms—as well as Yelp—to recommend companies they’ve had good experiences with. “From photographers and videographers to rental companies, we’ve been showing our love and support for others in the industry by leaving thoughtful reviews,” notes the duo.
How else can my social media act as a useful resource?
Beyond inspirational photos, use this time to position yourself as an expert. If your social media pages become a go-to place for resources and solutions, people will remember it when business picks up again. “The Sequence social mission over the past six weeks has been sharing trends, ideas, and solutions—regardless of whether they originated from Sequence or elsewhere,” says Adam Sloyer, CEO of Sequence Events. “This is a time of need for so many, both personally and professionally, and we want our channels to be a resource to the events community at large.”
InVision Communications, an engagement solutions agency is also taking a thought-leadership approach to social media right now. “We’ve shifted so that the majority of the content we share is covering topics that are pain points we know our clients are grappling with,” says Laliv Hadar, InVision’s Vice President of Marketing. “Themes include best practices for pivoting to digital experiences, leading virtual events, and crafting communications plans to support new digital initiatives. … The key for us is tone, and ensuring that the content we provide is helpful and supportive to our clients and partners’ needs at this time.”
“People are looking for an escape, but also motivation to dig deeper and find new layers of creativity—particularly for event professionals.”
Should I be getting more personal than usual?
“This situation has democratized social media, dissolving the expectations we have about others and ourselves,” says the Mavinhouse team. “The authenticity factor is at an all-time high. We are seeing everyone in their ‘natural habitat,’ from news anchors to celebrities on video calls. It’s like peeling back a layer of expectations people have of others, and the strive for perfection in your digital image.”
Patty Speirs, the owner of Every Last Detail Wedding & Event Coordination agrees with that “we’re all in this together” approach. “I post videos of me being silly or working out, images of my dog, me sans makeup—it’s an attempt to share positivity and remind people that, no matter what’s going on, to be grateful for something every day.”
But, cautions Muller, don’t stray too far from your original brand voice. “If you are the face of your company or brand, then by all means, keep that face present,” she says. “However, if your children do not tie into your company or company values in any way, this is not the time to have them all over the feed. In a story post or two? Sure. That’s real life, and having little ones pop on Zoom calls is a reality everyone is dealing with. But if you have never shown those sides of your life before on the business page, then I’d keep it very minimal.”
When you do want to get more personal or showcase your team, do it in a way that ties back to your company’s mission. For example, D’Amico Catering recently used Instagram to highlight how 20 of its employees were celebrating the Passover and Easter holidays. “From old family recipes to new, trendy dishes, the Instagram story showed our viewers that despite the distance, great food is in the DNA of our people and a common thread that connects us all,” explains Altendorf.
How often should I post, and what platforms are the most useful right now?
Focus on quality over quantity, stresses Muller. “Do not feel you have to post on the same schedule you did when events were still part of daily life. There’s nothing more annoying at a dinner party than when someone jumps into a conversation and contributes nothing beyond the sound of their voice, right? Same is true on social media,” she says. “Either provide value to others—i.e., insights, advice, inspiration, beauty, laughter, or simply an escape for a few minutes—or hold off until you can, and just engage with others.”
As for which platforms to use, Muller notes that engagement in Instagram Stories has been up during the COVID-19 crisis, while on-page photo engagement tends to be down. “Facebook groups are seeing a huge uptick in engagement as well,” she adds. “That is the perfect place to join the discussion and keep your voice (and brand) present without being pushy. The same rules apply here: Contribute valuable information to the conversation, or just read and consider it research time.”
“Never has customer service been more critical, and thankfully social media provides us all with a platform to interact with our clients and audiences in both a macro and micro way.”
This also may be the time to build up your less-used platforms, too. “I’ve been trying to utilize social media that I would normally leave on the back burner, such as LinkedIn and Twitter,” notes Madeline Raithel, who handles social media for Entire Productions and is using social media to showcase its artists and host virtual variety shows.
Meanwhile, Katherine Stinnett, Sales and Marketing Manager for the RT Lodge is spending time on Pinterest. “We’ve tried to keep a constant stream of new content on our wedding Pinterest boards for brides who are still planning their weddings,” says Stinnett. “We don’t want them to feel like they aren’t allowed to be excited and hopeful for their future wedding.”
LinkedIn has also emerged as an engagement-heavy place to share resources. “From maintaining your personal brand to creating new professional relationships, LinkedIn is more relevant now than ever,” suggests the Intertwined Events team. “Even though you aren’t able to attend public events to network with others, or enjoy a weeknight happy hour to build connections, we’ve been using LinkedIn to socialize and get in touch with our business community.”
Do people even want to hear from me right now, though?
“We actually have seen an uptick in engagement, which reinforces our belief that right now people are even more interested in creative solutions and what other event pros are seeing and doing,” says Sloyer. “We are very sensitive to posting anything that might seem ‘out of touch.’”
Social is also a low-pressure way to check in and share info with clients—without bombarding their email inboxes on days they might be feeling overwhelmed. “Never has customer service been more critical, and thankfully social media provides us all with a platform to interact with our clients and audiences in both a macro and micro way,” says Altendorf. “Whether they are posts that assure followers we’re taking every measure possible to create safe environments when events return, or answering a DM from a panicked client, social media allows for connectivity on every level.”
Source: Claire Hoffman – Bizbash