In August 2014, the Event Planning and Management Group, an online community of 220,000 event professionals conducted a study on social media usage for events. They identified 1,335 qualified event professionals, and found that a staggering 52% of respondents indicated that they need help figuring out how to use social media effectively. So if you’re part of that 52%, we’re here to help!
10 Mistakes Event Planners Make on Social Media and How to Fix Them
1. Not Having Someone Dedicated to Social Media
This is the origin of all the following mistakes. Having someone on your team that ‘gets it’ will avoid social media blunders and upset attendees.
How to Fix it: The key is to find someone who gets social media and enjoys it. Do yourself a favor and find a Millennial. A Millennial is someone who is right now between 18 and 34. This person belongs to a generation that has grown up with digital media for most of their life, so they will find it second nature to manage your social media content.
Each post should start with the question ‘what value am I adding to the end user?’. Begging does not usually add any value whatsoever. It’s like a child begging for the latest toy. They may eventually get the toy, but it won’t be for the right reasons.
How to Fix It: If you are going to ask, make sure there’s something in it for your audience. (e.g. Check in at our event for 10% off your swag purchase.)
3. Not Addressing Mentions
Leaving direct mentions unanswered is a big problem. It can escalate to negativity pretty quickly. Imagine someone comes to your event information desk, they ask a question and you ignore them altogether. That would just never happen, right? Events are time sensitive and not addressing mentions quickly will almost inevitably have a negative impact on the requester.
How to Fix it: Just respond! (See Mistake #1)
4. Denial (Only Addressing Positive Comments)
Research shows that negative comments actually come from those who care the most about your event. So when you don’t respond to negative comments, you’re actually alienating some of your biggest supporters who actually cared enough to let you know there was a problem. Plus, like wildfire, if not extinguished early, negative comments will spread quickly.
How To Fix It: Just respond…quickly! (See Mistake #1) Also, having FAQs available to attendees with answers to common problems will help to avoid issues in the first place.
5. Asking for Actions on Different Social Networks
This refers to asking users on Instagram to share on Twitter, Facebook fans to share on Instagram, etc. You need to respect each social network’s rules, etiquette and users.
How to Fix It: The objective of every social media program is to provide value to prospective and existing attendees. 100 happy attendees that come back to your event are worth much more than 1 million likes from unengaged ‘friends’. Concentrate on how you can provide value on social media and make sure your measurement of success goes beyond likes and re-tweets.
6. Bulk Invites
Are you selecting all your contacts and sending invites on Facebook or Google+? Have you ever gotten one of these bulk invites? Exactly. Keep in mind that along with being rather annoying, Google directly adds events to someone’s calendar and opting out is very painful.
How To Fix It: Convene a list of those who you’ve identified to be legitimately interested and invite only them, but also leave the event open to the public. As the event naturally spreads through mentions and comments, others can opt-in, resulting in a more authentic and engaged group of attendees. Also, social media should be just one tool in the box of what you use to promote your event. You wouldn’t build a house with just a hammer.
7. The Auto Direct Message
This is an automated message you receive immediately after you follow someone on Twitter or Facebook. Auto direct messages usually are filled with useless information, are impersonal and show you are not actually interested in who followed you.
How To Fix It: (See Mistake #1) Try to learn more about who just followed you. Give it a week to read what they are up to and then engage if you have a valid reason to and by means of public mentions. A Re-tweet or a Like speaks a thousand words. Remember, social media is all about relationships, which take time and effort to cultivate.
8. Common Dashboards for Personal and Professional Accounts
Some of the worst disasters originated from this oversight. This has nothing to do with skill, just organization. The last thing you want is someone’s personal post or tweet going out under your organization or event’s profile.
How To Fix It: You gotta keep ’em separated. Make sure those who have administrative access do not sync their personal accounts with your organization or event’s social media dashboard.
Social media dashboards are great tools to help manage your posts across all social networks at once. The danger is in becoming lazy and not checking your posts for accuracy. Usernames are typically not the same across all platforms. So using the @usernames from LinkedIn on your Facebook post ends up making no sense. The same applies to #hashtags. Hashtags are used much differently on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, while LinkedIn doesn’t even recognize them.
How To Fix It: Carefully pick the social networks you engage in and take the time to learn the language they use. Then make sure to use dashboards only if the language is the same.
10. Radio Silence
One of the simplest mistakes to make with events is abandoning the accounts for the year and resuming them a couple of months before the event. While the frequency of your posts make fall off slightly, keeping your attendees engaged in between events is essential to building your community of supporters a.k.a. event attendees. Don’t be the friend who shows up only when they need money.
How to Fix It: Create a year-long content strategy. Setting up a calendar of posts at least a month in advance relieves the stress of curating content at the last minute and allows your social media coordinator to focus on responding to comments, questions and new followers.