Sodexo Foundation

Every year at db&r, we were tasked with helping make the Sodexo Foundation annual fundraiser come to life. My task was to make the event as socially-charged as possible, for the highest possible engagement. To do this, we created social content for before, during and after the event. We attended the event and live tweeted. The creative team created several amazing videos to showcase throughout the evening and we also developed a Q&A session with their honorees that asked the audience to tweet live questions. We choreographed the segment to ensure optimal success and it was a huge hit.

Here are my takeaways for making an event as social as possible.

Event Marketing & Post-Engagement: 15 Tips to Engage Your Event Attendees via Social Media

Incorporating social media into your nonprofit event, or any event for that matter, helps build relationships with your audience in a comfortable format. Social media also allows event marketers to ramp up excitement pre-event and keep the conversations alive after everyone goes home.

But, being truly engaging with live events means more than slapping a hashtag on an invite. In order to really get the most out of your event’s social media engagement strategy, consider these 15 things:

  1. Check Your Internet Connection – First and foremost, before you plan any social engagement around your event, you MUST double check with your event site to make 100% sure that you’ll have access to wireless internet and that your guests will either have the same access or will be able to utilize their cell data plans. If no wireless is available, you’ll need to check for or secure hotspots or create an engagement strategy that doesn’t rely on live tweeting or uploading as the event is in progress. Also be sure to test the connection the day of the event.
  2. Social Feed Display – One of the best ways to encourage interaction among your attendees is with the promise of visuals. We’re all narcissists at heart – we’re much more likely to contribute to the conversation if we know our tweet or post will make it to a feed the entire conference can see. Not to mention that dedicating screens to showcase social activity is also a subtle reminder to guests about your owned social networks and a guest’s opportunity to connect with your brand. We recommend using Tint, as it has the ability to pull in social data from several networks and create an appealing visual for attendees.Tint Social Feed Display
  3. Really Go for it – If you want to leverage social during your event, try to think about ways to incorporate it into the event program or make it central to what you’ve already planned. We recently created a whole segment based on live Twitter questions that not only inspired greater conversation, but it also gave the whole night a much more interactive feel. Check it out.
  4. Schedule in Advance – Even though your plan may be to generate content as the event goes on, you’re apt to get behind if you haven’t considered the kinds of content you’ll want to share in advance. We like to generate sample tweets and posts (based on the event’s program) that are either scheduled in Hootsuite or saved as drafts in Twitter. This way you can make small changes, add live photos, and then push this content live on your schedule, without feeling constantly behind everything that’s happening.Twitter Drafts
  5. Take Advantage of Pre-Planned Events – Events can be crazy! There are usually more than several compounding elements happening all at once and, unless you have a team of 50, it’s hard to cover everything from the right angle (photo-wise and quote-wise). So take advantage of any event dress rehearsals or pre-planned events in which you may be able to snap higher quality images or predict what content you’ll want to share. That way you’ll have a database of great content to pull from on the fly.
  6. FYI to Followers – If you do plan on live tweeting, be sure to let your current followers know that you’ll be tweeting or posting more regularly. Otherwise you run the risk of annoying or alienating followers who aren’t used to you posting as often.
  7. Scope out Influencers and Attendees – Either in your registration process or right before the event, do your best to figure out who is likely to be tweeting & generating content during the event. It’s not uncommon for attendees to forget to use your promoted hashtag, so making a Twitter list or stream in Hootsuite of these influencers will allow you to engage with them no matter what hashtag they use (or don’t use). Not only can you engage with them at the event, but you can encourage their participation by welcoming them (via Twitter) to the event before they tweet.HOOTSUITE DESKTOP SCREENSHOT FROM FOUNDATION DINNER
  8. Hashtagging – Create a hashtag that works easily within sentences or is pretty short so that attendees are able to fit in their statement plus the hashtag into the very strict 140-character limitations. Try to chose something memorable that can be leveraged again and again.
  9. Follow the “WWYS” Principle – When you’re deciding what to share throughout the night, think: What Would You Share? Unless your strategy is to tweet every word (which it shouldn’t be), you need to be sensitive about how much content you decide to post within your time frame. So, choose the quotes, images, and elements you share carefully. Be sure to share things that are memorable, give a human element to the event, and content that others can relate to.Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.36.32 PM
  10. Be Present! It’s easy to get sucked into the small things while an event is happening, whether it’s responding to attendee tweets or making sure you get every word of a quote correct for a tweet. But all of those interactions are irrelevant if you’re not able to accurately reflect the vibe and tone of the event. Instead of making sure to share the video that played at the event, make sure you watch along with the audience and pay attention to how they respond. You need to attend the event with everyone. This will ensure that all your content is on point and, at the end, you’ll know that you captured the event adequately.
  11. Be Relevant & Evoke Emotion– This is especially true in the nonprofit world. No matter what you share, be sure there’s some emotion tied to it. Tweeting straight facts and figures alone is boring unless you compare it to something that makes sense to the audience. For instance, if you’re talking about childhood hunger, give statistics around how many children are at-risk of hunger in the town in which the event is held.
  12. Calls to Conversation – Yes, you want to include calls to action (see #13), but you also want to encourage conversation. Give your audience ways to talk amongst each other and with you before, during & after the event by leveraging Twitter chats, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, etc. that allow people to continue interacting post-event.Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.35.28 PM
  13. Save Calls-to-Action & RT-type Posts for Meal Times or Breaks – A good way to encourage participation among people who aren’t as socially savvy is to create posts that are easily re-tweetable or that have calls-to-action within them. However, this kind of content must be posted during event down times. If you include a call to action within a tweet, during a captivating speech, attendees are unlikely to see and respond to it. So, increase engagement rates by thinking about when there will be the most down time for your guests (e.g. dinner) and schedule that type of content then. 
  14. Consider the Virtual Attendee – With every piece of content you share, make sure you add enough context that allows users who aren’t at the physical event to understand and participate. Believe me, people will be curious as to why you’re posting more often, so give them a reason to get involved and follow the conversation.Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.35.17 PMScreen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.37.55 PM
  15. Tweet Afterward – No matter how late your event ends, it’s a good idea to continue posting content and engaging with your audience afterward. Most people don’t go to bed right away, they need unwinding time, or “networking time” (aka post-event drinks). So keep the night’s engagement going with more content, or give them ways to keep the conversation going themselves.Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.38.05 PM

Here’s the Twitter Q&A segment in its entirety:


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