How to leverage social media to market events

A study  done by American Express Meetings & Events shows that social media engagement has increased with meeting planners and attendees and that 45 percent of planners believe in the importance of social media usage. As communications manager of Hyatt Regency Trinidad (pictured above), I've observed firsthand how social media affects how meetings and events are planned and conducted. All aspects of planning from the preparation to the follow up should include social media engagement in ways that can be analyzed and used for marketing purposes in addition to connecting with your audience.

By using social media before, during, and after a meeting or event, organizers can help attendees voice their concerns and be heard. This allows the organizer to gather crucial information to better improve future events based on audience feedback. This is also beneficial for the attendee as they leave feeling engaged and that their voice has been heard. A few important tips for including social media in meetings and events are:

Generate Excitement

Getting attendees excited about the meeting or event using social media is important because by word of mouth, they will get others excited. Since many people get their news solely from social media, these platforms are a necessity for reaching your audience. By using the proper platform for your audience, you can inform them about everything from what to expect to how to properly prepare.

You can also answer questions regarding the event, guiding the audience in the right direction particularly for new attendees if the event is an annual one. For example, Hyatt Regency Trinidad creates Facebook "events" for larger gatherings, like the New Year's Eve Gala and annual Carnival event, LIME, which is one of the most anticipated Carnival events of the season each year. To keep the audience engaged leading up to the event, the hotel posts "tips" on how they can maximize their experience once they arrive. This is relevant for both past and new attendees, since the event hosts new performers each year.

Engage the Audience

While the meeting or event is in session, there are many ways to use social media to your benefit. Whether you use a real-time posting stream for audience members to voice their opinions or encourage them to take photos during breaks, the content can be used to engage the guests with the event and the speakers. This will allow for conversations about the event to take place, which are important to analyze for audience sentiment and any opinions on how they felt about the meeting itself. It is also a great way for audience members to share ideas, give suggestions or share their experiences. During events the hotel will create a specific hashtag and ask all attendees to share updates and images using the hashtag on social media and will then share those updates, images, etc. on large screens throughout the event.

Follow Up

There is nothing more important than the follow-up after a meeting or event. The buzz should not end at the closing remarks, but instead, should keep going until far after it has ended. Thanking your attendees for coming and engaging on social media is the best way to keep the conversation going and to encourage attendance at future meetings/events. Create a flipbook or slideshow of images or memories and share on the event's page, in a follow-up email or on social media using the hashtags to continue the conversation. The attendees will then have a chance to reminisce about their experience at the event and continue to share posts and pictures from the event online.

Neemah Persad-Celestine is Hyatt Regency Trinidad's marketing communications manager and is responsible for directing and managing the hotel's social media presence. To connect and engage with Hyatt Regency Trinidad on social media, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The 428-room Hyatt Regency Trinidad was designed as a premier meeting, convention, business, event, and leisure travel property, with a 16,000 square-foot grand ballroom, and a 10,000 square-foot ballroom with translation facilities.

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