Why do people turn to social media? They want to learn, see what their friends are doing, and show off what they’re doing themselves. This makes social media the go-to hub for events.
Just how we’ve discussed how critical social media is to brands, it also critical to the successful promotion of events. Whether an event is a one-time occurrence or a regular on the calendar, social media can help the event attract attendees, build relationships and loyalty, increase interest and engagement, and get people talking.
For this article, we’ll take a look at how events can utilize social media before, during, and after their event. We’ll do so through the lens of the Volvo Car Open, a recurring yearly event that merges sports and entertainment.
Volvo Car Open
The Volvo Car Open is the highest prize money women's-only professional tennis event in the world. It takes place every (non-covid) year in Charleston, South Carolina. The event is a week long, and includes mini-concerts, vendors, and of course, lots of professional tennis matches.
While the event may only come around once a year, the Volvo Car Open has recognized the importance of social media in its event promotion and implements a year-round strategy to build attendee loyalty and get people excited about what’s to come.
Plan of Attack
Before the content starts rolling out, events need to have a plan. Social media strategies aren’t just for brands. Events need to set their own goals and KPIs, create a content plan, pick their platforms (52% of event planners say Facebook is the most effective), and set up ways to evaluate and adjust their plans as needed.
For events, content is funneled into three buckets: before the event, during the event, and after the event.
Before the Event
89% of social media event usage is centered around pre-event engagement. The type of pre-event content will vary from industry to industry, but the goal of all industries is the same: build the hype and get people to come to your event.
For a Volvo Car Open event, this can include:
- Creating an event hashtag — #VolvoCarOpen
- Posting content from previous events — photos, interviews, highlights, etc.
- Revealing players that commit to the tournament and the entertainment talent lineup
- Giveaways — autographs, tickets, merchandise, etc.
- Discounts — buy early and you get ____
- Countdowns — to ticket sales, to event itself, to draw posting, to official schedule of matches
- Curated content about Charleston, SC along with venue scenes
- Videos from players themselves talking Charleston and the event
- Video messages from players that speak directly to the Charleston fan
- Fan photos
- News updates about players throughout the year
As you can see, the content options are limitless. But the key to success is to understand event options are also limitless. There are events happening around the world every single day in every industry. It’s not enough to throw an event and hope people show up. You need to work towards engaging your audience beforehand to win them over. Every post can make a difference.
During the Event
Content should continue during the event, especially during an event like the Volvo Car Open that lasts over multiple days. Content options include:
- Listening for tournament feedback
- Engaging with users of the #VolvoCarOpen hashtag
- Providing results news and highlights
- Going live with behind the scenes content or with players/entertainment
- Sharing quotes from players
- Offering teasers, giveaways, and discounts on different days
- Creating #FanoftheDay posts
- Providing Customer Service and resolving any issues
Similarly, content will vary according to industry, but the goal should be to keep the conversation going. It will build relationships with those that attended, add new attendees for later portions of the event, AND show those who couldn’t attend just what they’re missing out on.
After the event
The after-event conversation still makes up for around 18% of the total conversation, so it’s important. This is the time to thank those who made the event happen, offer a highlight reel of the successes, and ask for feedback. For the Volvo Car Open, social media results should revolve around:
- Thanking the sponsors, organizers, and fans
- Reposting images, videos, and feedback from attendees
- Sharing news coverage
- Sharing highlights from the event
- Offering polls and other survey opportunities to gain insight (feedback + asking how they can get your attendance next year)
- “See you next year!” posts
For reoccurring events like the Volvo Car Open, post-event content will form a loop and merge back into pre-event content planning and posts.
How is the Volvo doing?
19,139 people like the event on Facebook (over 40k checked in), 12.6k follow on Twitter, and 9,459 follow on Instagram. From a tennis event perspective, that is a massive success.
But success doesn’t just come in followers. The Volvo Car Open posts consistent content throughout the year; this includes 5 posts in the last 5 days, despite not being held for another 4 months. They just launched an early round of ticket sales for 2021 and sold out that small batch. Sales happening now are signs of not only a well-run event, but a well-run social presence that encourages good faith purchases.
If you want to look at an event doing social right, make your way over to the @VolvoCarOpen pages. Posting throughout the year for a single event may seem like a lot of work, but the Volvo Car Open shows just how much that work can pay off and contribute to a successful event. Get people talking and keep them talking. The more they do, the more attention and natural promotion your event will receive.