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Social Proof Strategies for Event Planners

If there isn't a photo on Instagram, it didn't happen!

I attended a media workshop by GMFEA (Greater Miami Festivals and Events Association) about how to get your story covered by the media. The panel of experts included representatives from WLRN, Miami Artzine, Indulge Magazine, Miami.com, Miami New Times and WPBT. They discussed the Instagram Effect - and that if the media does cover your event, they notice if you share their story on your organization's social media - and if you don't!

Have you heard of the Instagram Effect? If there isn't a photo and link on Instagram, it didn't happen! And if it's on Instagram, as an event marketer you are trying to inspire #FOMO - fear of missing out. New research by psychologists confirms that Instagram influences users and how they see the world. If you’re an IG user, you already know that. And if you are a marketer, you use the Instagram Effect to persuade and influence your audience to engage with you and take a specific action.

Social proof is looking at the actions of others

to help decide what actions to take.

On social media sites, social proof is measured by the numbers:

  • Followers
  • Likes
  • Shares
  • Comments

For marketers, social proof leads to engagement which leads to conversions. Event marketers want to get as much social proof on their posts as possible to encourage people who see their posts to attend their event.

5 Ways to Use Social Proof to Promote Your Event

How can event planners use social proof to promote their event, build buzz and increase participation in your event?

1. Share hype from your event fans and followers
Social Media Examiner recommends that before the event coordinators "use social media listening tools and native search functionality to see who’s posting about being excited to attend the event." If you use the same branded hashtag each year, it will be easy to see who is posting about last year's event - and is looking forward to attending again this year.

User-generated content is easy to find with the many social listening tools to help you monitor and analyze what is being said about you online. When someone posts about your event, show them some social love: Like and Comment on their posts, follow your fans and Share on your own social networks.

Tip: If the media mentions your event or story, always share their coverage on your own social channels and thank them, ie: Excited to be mentioned in @ABCmedia!

MacManda's favorite listening tools that are free and easy to use are:

  • HootSuite: you probably know HootSuite as a tool to plan and schedule your social media posts. It's also great for social listening. All you need to do is determine your keyword and social channels, set up a stream and then start listening to what people are saying about that topic!
  • Google Alerts is an old standby: enter your brand name or keyword or competitor or any phrase you are interested in, and Google will send you an email alert notifying you when that phrase pops up on social media.

Other top (paid) social media listening tools include:

  • Awario is a social listening tool with extra features including social selling, lead generation and social media management.
  • Agorapulse has both scheduling and monitoring features, lets you search for keywords and helps you identify influencers.
  • Brandwatch provides analytics and insights for market research and detailed audience and customer insights.
  • Mention emphasizes real-time search and you can set an alert to give you results from the last 24 hours.

2. Post event photos and your event hashtag
"Design your event in a way that encourages interaction on social media," says Socialtables. Encourage attendees to take and share photos at the event, using your branded hashtag. Construct visuals that are postable and shareable and encourage #FOMO:

  • Create an event photo frame
  • Design a backdrop with your logo and hashtag
  • Build a branded red carpet / step-and-repeat
  • Stage a photo area with event celebrities or cardboard cutouts

3. Assign an event photographer
Not everyone remembers to take and post photos during the event - they're having too much fun! But for events that last all day or several days, attendee social media photos can increase attendance for the duration of your event. Ask someone on your event team to take and share photos on your social sites throughout your event - and tag the attendees in the photo and encourage them to share the post on their own social media.

4. Leverage brand fans, ambassadors and influencers
Ask one of your event superfans or influencers to do an "Instagram Takeover" of your account - and promote the takeover before the event with a nice intro and when they will be posting.

Create a list of posting guidelines says Later, such as what days and times you want them to take over, what topics to cover and hashtags and handles to include.

5. Post positive reviews and mentions
If someone writes a good review about your event or raves to their followers about it, create a meme or quote image and give them a shout-out on your social. Buffer suggests using your fans’ shout-outs as testimonials on your website.

Harnessing the power of social proof in your marketing is a smart and easy way to grow your event. There are many different ways you can use social proof in event marketing - what are your top social media strategies for using social proof? We'd love to hear!

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