The art of the trending event

By Vusi | 26 August 2015 Blog home

At Blue Moon, we’ve spent 26 years creating innovative and inspiring events that engage people – conferences, launches, theatre and, of course, live TV broadcasts and awards ceremonies. Whatever we do, we’re always conscious of being on-trend.

In recent times, though, the human condition has thrown a spanner in the works. The people we’re trying to inspire and engage are proving harder to reach. They talk more to strangers online than they do to their colleagues around the coffee machine, and are more likely to be seen tweeting about the coffee itself than striking up conversation with their like-minded fellow event attendees.

These ‘social’ folks insist on ‘checking in,’ which doesn’t mean just attending the event in the flesh, but proving they did so, usually by taking a ‘selfie’ and accompanying it with a #hashtag. It’s no longer just about the coffee, but how much digital love (or like) they receive, and how much conversation they can create. (Even wedding couples are directing their guests to a #hashtag, ’coz if it’s not on Facebook it’s not official, right? Right.)

So what does this mean for your next event? How do you optimise the experience around the selfie-stick-wielding, checking-in generation?

Here are our top 10 tips for making [good] use of social media at your next event.

1) Get with the programme

Familiarise yourself with the production schedule or event programme. Which awards are when? Which talks are where? Knowing when there are breaks will come in handy for charging phones, moderating social media pages and uploading images.

2) Keep up

Heard of Hootsuite and Tweetdeck? If you’re manning a Twitter feed, these are your new best friends. They allow you to keep track of mentions, messages, retweets, hashtags, etc, all from one dashboard. In the case that your hashtag trends nationally (or globally, like our Metro FM Music Awards did), this will make your life a LOT easier.

3) Remember the #hashtag

Things can get complicated when there are three versions of your hashtag. Decide on one well before the event and stick to it throughout. Flaunt it wherever you can; on branding, signage, invitations and big screens. Remember you are competing for a space in the Twittersphere.

4) Get ‘the shot’

It’s competitive out there. Never before has ‘the shot’ or ‘the interview’ been more important. It’s crucial to get it right the first time the opportunity presents itself – there’s no time to edit or retake… not to mention the other cameramen or crazy fans shoving in front of you. Images are important in social media and can make your post stand out ahead of the next person’s, so even if it means using a cell phone torch, get the light right.

5) On that note, Insta-vids are only 15 seconds, people!

… not 16 or 17, nor two minutes, for that matter. It’s a really good idea to inform your interviewee of their time limit beforehand, and your intentions to cut them off almost as soon as they start talking. No time for thanking their mum and dad, cousin and aunty… or name-dropping their new *cough* energy drink, for that matter.

6) Research

Make sure you know who is attending, speaking at, hosting or sponsoring the event – and spell their names correctly! It also helps to find their Twitter and Instagram handles before the event, to avoid crazy Googling backstage.

7) Black clothing is fail-safe

We know how you rock your 80s bomber jacket at the trendy weekend markets, as do some of the celebs showing up at your event. But with dress code, we’d recommend playing the clean, professional part to disappear into the background along with the rest of the production crew. Wear some comfy shoes, too; you’ll need to be quick on your feet to chase that celeb who’s just won his fourth gold statue.

8) Prepare for backlash

Be well prepared for the ‘haters’ on social media. You don’t want to trend for the wrong reasons, so it helps to have an escalation plan in the event that something goes wrong and the tweeps (Twitter people) start an ‘anti-hashtag’ of sorts.

9) Backstage etiquette

Be careful not to trip on wires and cables backstage, which could cut the TV broadcast and ‘bring down the house’ in all the wrong ways. It’s advisable to stay away from all plugs, too. Rather than risk tripping the mains, take a power bank for your phone or laptop.

10) Stay connected

You can’t go wrong taking backup modems or putting extra data on your phone. This WILL come in handy. It’s a bonus if the venue has wi-fi, because more people are likely to tweet, upload pictures and engage with your event, but definitely don’t rely on it.

Now, before you go out and strategise your next event take-over, remember what having a social media crew is not about:

  • It doesn’t mean you should boss attendees around because you are ‘crew’.
  • It’s not really an opportunity to take selfies with celebs or guest speakers.
  • It’s not a chance to vent your personal opinions online to the followers you wish you had. (Remember to stay logged out of your own personal social media accounts for the day.)

While you may be able to sneak in a star-struck selfie with AB de Villiers or Cassper Nyovest, remember that your primary objective is to enhance the experience for attendees and the potentially massive audience not present and tuning in via TV or following online.

We hope these tips get your conversation started around the importance (and potential) of social media at events, and if you’re feeling a bit out of your depth you can always turn to us for a well-planned creative event, complete with a slick social media strategy.

Trust us: you’ll ‘like’.