In today’s world, we experience almost everything through our screens. Didn’t get tickets to that festival? You can watch it unfold on Instagram from your couch. Have plans the night of the basketball championship game? Catch all the highlights on Twitter the next day. Couldn’t make it to the work conference? Stream the whole thing on Facebook Live as it’s happening.
That means that having a vibrant social media presence at your live experience is no longer just an added bonus for your audience — it’s an essential and exciting way to reach fans, both the total diehards and complete newbies. No matter who shows up or who stays home, every person should be able to feel like they were part of your event. With feeds on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Giphy and YouTube at our fingertips, the only sad event in 2019 is one that no one even knew happened.
It’s one thing to designate someone on your team to stream the event live. It’s another entirely to really make your event feel live to those following on social. To do so, you need a dedicated team of experts. We’ve learned a lot over the years about how to make sure everyone feels like they were there, even when they weren’t. Here are key takeaways for really winning with social at your live experience:
- Establish your client’s goals. You can’t reach the North Star if you don’t know what you’re seeking. When you first start working with a client or your team, establish the goals long before the show: Do you want to boost attendance? If it’s televised on any platform (TV, livestream, etc.), do you want people to tune in from home? What are your event goals? With your goals in mind, you can successfully build a social campaign that effectively speaks to new and current audiences.
- Build the basic backbone beforehand. When you begin working with your client, make sure you understand their brand guidelines and have their design templates approved and ready to go before you get started. This allows you to be nimble on your feet if something unexpected comes up at the event — and it will! Additionally, it’s important that your client trusts you. You never want to be in a situation where you’re waiting for your clients to approve something when you’re on the ground in the middle of production.
- Choreograph as much as you can ... When planning a social experience at a live event, approach the “whole kit and caboodle” like you would if you were putting on a play. Everything — as much as possible — is choreographed and planned in advance. You have strategies for each platform: think of who on your team has the expertise on Instagram versus who is really great with tone of voice on Twitter versus who is really great at capturing video for Facebook. Try to map out as much of this — with blocking, clear roles and timing — as you can. As an example, with The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, we were able to achieve 34 million Snapchat story views and 113 million Giphy views because we assigned the right people to the right platforms and stuck to the game plan. Being prepared will only help the day-of chaos feel less, well, chaotic.
- ... but be flexible. Remember: this is a live event! Anything can happen, and some of the best social moments are the unexpected ones. Part of the reason you should try to be as buttoned up as possible is so that when you see comments come in or people talking on social, you can adapt in real-time. Think of the virtual audience as a live focus group.
- Streamline communication between your on-call event staff, your home-base team and the client. Consider having both an on-call event team and a home-base team. Having a “war room” — aka an on-site centralized location — helps with communication flow. It also lets clients know that they can always find someone to talk to if they need assistance. Communication during live events is essential. Also, at events, triple-check technical aspects like having your own Wi-Fi channel, that you have enough power, and that team members can communicate with one another easily.
- Keep the conversation going year-round. Even after the curtains come down, you don’t want people to stop talking about your event. Our work with The Westminster Kennel Club has been a great example of how to keep the conversation going all year long: we highlight responsible pet dog ownership, canine health, and breed preservation. We worked with their team to launch the Road to Westminster campaign keeping Westminster top of mind year-round by providing relevant dog-news and education from local competitions.
Downloading all your learnings after a live event is an opportunity for you to see what worked best and which content resonates with your target audiences. Once you get a scope of your major wins, you can easily hop into conversations all year round with content or perspective that you gleaned from just that one live experience.
Sarah Pine is associate director, social & digital strategy at GLOW and has created unique digital and live experiences for high-profile brands like The Westminster Kennel Club, HBO, Hulu, Showtime and YouTube.