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Is social media currently part of your overall marketing strategy for your live events? If not, it's time to hop on the bandwagon, because the level of engagement you can achieve by incorporating social media into your live event marketing can be astonishing. People absolutely love to engage with real-time updates while a live event is going on - the likes, comments, and shares will flow in much faster than you might think!

But not only that, social media provides you with an avenue to blast out content from your live event to people who aren't in attendance, thus boosting the reach of your live event significantly. Social media can even help extend the shelf life of your event, so to speak, by helping you maintain the buzz surrounding the event long after it has ended.

To help get the ball rolling, here are some best practices for using social media to enhance live events you can begin implementing today:

Offer A Sneak Peak Into Your Live Event

If you want to get people excited about your upcoming live event, social media is the place to do it. You could, for example, create eye-popping graphics promoting vendors, speakers, or experts who will be at your live event, host a Twitter Chat, Google Hangout, or even do a Facebook Live Video to discuss the event and answer questions from those who are interested in attending, or even put together a highlight reel of footage from prior events you have held to establish how much fun they are.

Using video to offer a sneak peak offers a few key advantages, being it provides you with the perfect opportunity to cross-promote it on your website (especially on the registration page for your live event), in your email marketing, and across all of your social media channels, and it's content that your audience can easily interact with and share to help you spread the word of your live event.

Here is an example of a highlight reel Social Media Examiner put together when they announced one of their annual events, showing potential attendees what they missed at the last event, which is an effective way of using social media to boost registrations:

Create A Facebook Event Page

Even if you have never created a Facebook event page before, you are probably familiar with them already if you have ever received an invite to one from a friend or family member. They can be an extremely useful tool for your business to keep attendees informed on the latest happenings surrounding your event, as well as providing them with an opportunity to network with one another before the event. Once you have created an event page, Facebook gives you a link you can easily share across all of your social media channels, your website, and your email marketing to encourage people to RSVP, and you can also invite your friends and family members to RSVP to the event page with a few clicks.

The day of your event, Facebook also sends out a reminder to all who have responded to the event page reminding them of the event, so it's a great way to encourage participation and attendance without having to spend a dime. You could also, for example, run contests within the event page giving away free tickets to a select few who share a post, driving even more free traffic to your event page. And if you want to extend the reach of your event page on Facebook, they make it extremely easy for you to run ads promoting the event page to a targeted audience of your choosing. Facebook also provides analytics specific to the events page itself to show you how it is performing separate from your company page.

Here is an example of a Facebook event page, and with a custom cover image uploaded, it's quite visually appealing:

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Select A Hashtag For Your Live Event

You need to have a single, unified hashtag that is branded for your live event you intend on using across all of your social media channels. It should be a simple, easy to remember hashtag, as the goal will be for your audience to use the same hashtag in any posts they generate before, during, and after the event. You need to select this hashtag well before the date of your event, as you need to use it in literally EVERY post you send out regarding the event leading up to it, as you want to drive the hashtag into the minds of your audience. Having an event-specific hashtag makes it easy for people to find what you're sharing about your event, for you to find what others are sharing, and provides you with the perfect opportunity to join in on the conversation and engage with your attendees on social media. 

Here is a perfect example of an event-specific hashtag at work, where an attendee tweeted out a picture of a presentation during a live event (some people may refrain from social media use during your event out of respect, but be upfront and tell attendees you actually encourage it so you get content like this), including the hashtag for the event at the same time, as well as the Twitter handles for the event itself, and the company who organized the event:

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Have A Post-Event Plan In Place

One of your goals with using social media to enhance your live event should be to keep the buzz surrounding your live event going for as long as possible. To accomplish this, you are going to need content to share after your event has ended. During your live event, you should be taking pictures of attendees, vendors, speakers, presentations, etc. (these can also be shared during the event for real-time engagement), as well as videos so you not only have content to share, but also content to put together a highlight reel for your next live event, as discussed above. If any of your presentations involved PowerPoints, those can be uploaded to SlideShare to get even more value out of them, which is then content you can share on your website and other social media channels.

In addition to taking advantage of all of the content you will have accumulated during your live event, you also want to remain engaged with all of the new followers you are likely to pick up as a result. Attendees are bound to follow you on social media, so it's key you maintain an active presence there to maximize the value of your ever-growing audience. Posting content of interest to them on a regular basis will help keep them engaged and active on a long-term basis. You should also solicit feedback to see what you need to change for your next live event, which helps generate engagement at the same time and your attendees will appreciate having their insights listened to.

Check out this infographic to truly see the power of social media as it relates to extending the lifetime value of your live event:

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