6 Social Media Pitfalls to Avoid at Events


We hear it constantly: social media is a crucial tool for event marketing success. And we know it’s true from the results of our groundbreaking study of event attendees’ social media usage, where an overwhelming 89% of respondents said using social media channels at events important to them.

A well-executed social media strategy can increase attendee involvement and create additional event exposure.

But social media can also go terribly wrong! Avoid these six pitfalls when planning your event social strategy.

1) Using the Wrong Channels

Make sure to plan your social media channels efforts around platforms your audiences actually use.

Just as you think about your audiences’ top-of-mind concerns and challenges when planning your program, knowing which social media channels your audience uses is critical. Do your attendees regularly turn to Twitter, or is there a growing group of Snapchat fans? And don’t forget to think about other demographics including age and location. Events with large populations of international attendees may find the need to tap into other social media channels like China’s Qzone or QQ.

2) Not Being Wi-Fi and Mobile Ready

Slow Wi-Fi speeds or deadzones frustrate everyone and top event attendees’ list of complaints. Make sure you have enough bandwidth by working with your technical team and the venue to ensure that the network can accommodate everyone. Have boosters ready to increase bandwidth so you can take action if you get even a hint of spotty service.

And keep in mind that event attendees will be participating primarily through their mobile devices. Make sure your graphics, content and links are mobile-friendly. If your content is hard to read on a mobile screen, there won’t be any social sharing.

3) Forgetting to Be Human

In the quest to stay up-to-date with the 24/7 aspect of social media, it’s easy to lose sight of the main goal: to be social and spark conversation. Cold or robot-like updates turn attendees off.

Rohit Roy, News Editor at MarTech Advisor, offers this advice: “A business should employ a unique voice on social media channels with which their customers can identify.” The goal is to be authentic, engaging – and well, human. Roy reminds us, “At most times, people look for information they can relate to; adding a personal touch to your updates is therefore a necessity.”

4) Being Spammy Instead of Savvy

Bethany Smith, author of The Planner’s Process blog, says, “The line between product promotion and spam is very thin.”

It’s important to promote your own content – like registration deadlines or a newly announced speaker – but don’t forget to use social media channels to build relationships. Her advice to keep things savvy and not spammy:

  • Adopt a conversational tone.
  • Write more than one headline to automate social media updates without a repetitive spam factor.
  • Do something besides just content and event promotion. Pay attention to what your audience is talking about and talk with them on their social media channels.

5) Ignoring the Live Chatter

You’ve worked hard to get attendees talking about and sharing your event on social media. Once they start retweeting, liking and commenting, don’t ignore the opinions, suggestions and comments happening in real time. Live chatter can be a great way to understand what attendees are enjoying most and an opportunity to create organic conversations with a wider audience.

Designate and promote a single event hashtag for attendees to use. And use a social monitoring tool to keep track of what’s being said and shared around that hashtag. Acknowledge and respond in real-time to comments or questions. You’ll boost attendee engagement, and more importantly, head off any potential problems before they escalate.

6) Forgetting to Put a Crisis Plan in Place

“Problems can get very bad, very quickly when everyone has a way to become a citizen journalist via social media,” says KiKi L'Italien, a social media consultant specializing in associations and nonprofits.

While no one likes to think about the worst case scenarios, we’ve all seen how quickly a problem can go viral on social media.

L'Italien offers this advice to get through the digital hard times. “Damage to your organization’s reputation can happen within minutes unless you communicate effectively, take ownership, and are prepared for a social media crisis. But if you plan well with your team, a social media crisis could prove to advance your mission and inspire your audience.”

Social media can be a tricky landscape to navigate. Avoiding these common pitfalls will ensure social success before, during and after your event.

Posted by Chloe Raison | Request as a Speaker

Believer in the power of social media. Awed by digital. Maker of humans. Baker of cakes. Lover of travel.