Over the past few years, social media platforms have multiplied and their reach has grown tremendously. Nowadays, if you’re running a business and you’re not on social media, there better be a good reason for it, or it will seem like you’re the figment of someone’s imagination.
If you own or manage a venue, how does that apply to you? How can you make sense of social media and use your already-scarce time effectively?
Today we’ll give you an update on where things stand, and hone in on the top platforms you should be on as well as how to leverage them to maximize your reach and event leads.
The Basics of Social Media for Venues
Before you dive in, take a deep breath and a step back. There’s a lot of noise out there and perceived pressure. Before you go and join every platform you’ve ever heard of, define some of your goals so that your objectives are clear. Then, identify your target audiences – potentially from the general buckets of potential clients, event planners, and event attendees. The more you can define each of those segments’ profiles, the better. Last but certainly not least, you need a strategy. Read on, to find out what you need to consider.
Which social media platforms should event professionals focus on and how?
The top three platforms are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, in that order and with Facebook quite a bit ahead. In the past year, Instagram has grown a lot (it overtook Twitter). YouTube is a rising star as well, especially with the ever-evolving hunger for video (it’s apparently the second most used search engine after Google!).
The basic rules are still the same as they have been for a while: you should be using social media to build relationships and provide value, for every post about your venue and what you’re selling there should be three or four industry-relevant non-marketing posts and don’t hesitate to check out your competition for inspiration. Beyond that, your venue will be rewarded for using social media as a two-way communication channel (in other words, be responsive!), by being consistent with posts, using hashtags, and including calls to action.
Content can and should be creative, and types of content are limited only by your imagination. Some examples of what to share include but are not limited to: photos, videos, infographics, announcements, blogs, articles, countdowns to big events or news, testimonials, photo or caption contests, surveys, polls, quotes (preferably with capturing visuals to accompany them), funny moments, post-event highlights, FAQ answers, memes, gifs, and social media takeovers.
The importance of analytics
Whatever you do, don’t forget analytics in your venue’s social media strategy: every platform offers them, as do the various tools that allow you to manage social media platforms. In other words, you have no excuses not to follow the numbers to track your progress, what works, and what still needs tweaking. With that covered, let’s take a closer look at some of the top platforms for event professionals.
1. Develop a presence on Facebook
With 1.49 billion daily active users on Facebook on average, it’s perhaps no surprise that it is ranked as the most important social platform for marketers. This translates to 79% of Americans and 22% of the world’s total population using Facebook!
The platform is primarily used for personal purposes; individuals connecting to family and friends. That’s why Facebook updated their algorithm earlier this year, making it harder for business posts to organically reach their target audience. As a result, adapting content is more important than ever if you want your content to be seen.
The amount of personal data connected to each profile makes Facebook a mine of information and ideal for building long-term relationships. If someone is engaging with your posts, they will see them on their newsfeed. Similarly, posts that generate likes and comments – by creatively encouraging them rather than outright asking for them, are your ticket to visibility.
As a platform whose mission is community-building, Facebook has a remarkable number of groups built around common interests. If your product or service speaks to any one of these groups, or if you can create content to foster discussion and engagement while leveraging these intermediaries, you have an opportunity to reach potential customers through them.
2. Use FB Live to multiply your organic reach
Facebook Live is also a wonderful way to connect with your target audience, as it leverages video content – and everyone knows video is king – and sends notifications to anyone who likes or follows you. Consider a monthly tour of your venue, a tutorial – perhaps with a chef in the kitchen, or doing a behind-the-scenes interview. Use your Facebook Insights Page to see when your followers are online to get the timing right and make sure you stay “live” for at least 10 minutes to optimize reach.
The Roger Smith Hotel in New York City uses social media, including Facebook, as an opportunity to turn their guests into their best ambassadors. By become co-content creators, guests play a hands-on role in growing the network and influence of the hotel. That’s one of the reasons the Roger Smith has been recognized as one of the most innovative hotels – and brands – in the world.
If neither of those two tactics appeals to you, you can always use targeted ads for advertising or re-marketing. These offer a way to target multiple demographics at once.
3. Create a presence on Twitter
Although Twitter has slowed down growth-wise (see the plateau graph above), it’s still one of the top three platforms to be on. With almost 350 million users and 500 million Tweets posted per day, the platform is perfect for quick and easy updates which can be shared daily or even multiple times a day. Twitter is also ideal for retweeting and resharing content produced by others, and as a result is used by many as a great source of industry news.
Visuals attract more engagement, and a little-known perk of using an image in your Tweets is that you can tag people without it counting towards the character count.
4. Leverage Twitter for dynamic and optimal engagement
Embedding a Twitter feed into your venue’s website lets visitors know that you’re active even if the overall content does not shift all that frequently. For live events, Twitter can easily be featured through a “Twitter Live Wall” on a big screen, which has been demonstrated to encourage engagement of event attendees. In other words, Twitter has the potential to boost engagement.
The Hyatt Regency in Chicago hosts frequent events and uses Twitter to engage attendees and overnight guests. Live Twitter walls are customized to draw conference participants into conversations and comments, while guests benefit from improved and highly responsive concierge services via Twitter – addressing both issues and questions about the city in record time.
5. Post photographs on Instagram
This visual platform is becoming bigger and bigger, with over 95 million posts a day and 400 million Instagram Stories a day on average – and counting. Its appeal is that people buy from brands they know and trust, and the combination of a visual with a caption and hashtags makes this platform ideal to build that kind of relationship.
In contrast to Facebook, Instagram wants to bring users closer to businesses. In fact, in 2017 already 80% of users willingly connected to a brand on the platform.
6. Use Stories and Hashtags, as a way to build trust with your growing audience
A relatively new feature of Instagram is that you can now follow specific profiles or choose a hashtag to add to your newsfeed. This broadens the opportunities for your venue to become known to event planners and potential clients.
In terms of visuals, Instagram loves polished content such as your venue the day of a big event, as well as details, and behind the scenes images.
That’s where you can best promote your venue with Instagram Stories,compilations of images and video only available for 24 hours. In a Story, you can add drawings, emojis, a poll with a binary response option, and even tag users. Instagram stories are the only place where, as a business, you can link to an external website. As a bonus, you can select a few stories to highlight in your profile, letting followers or potential followers discover your Story collection at their leisure.
(Note: This is not the same as Instagram Live, which is only available while the video is being streamed.)
The QEII Center in London has a Story featured on its profile that showcases what the venue looked like during London Fashion Week. They tag the designer whose clothes are featured in their Story, for some win-win visibility. (QEII won Venue of The Year at the AEO awards 2018, Most Versatile Venue at the London Venue Awards 2018, and Best Venue Customer Service at the London Venue Awards 2017. They must be doing something right!)
Other platforms to consider include: LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, and Snapchat. If they work for you, develop your presence and use some of the tactics presented throughout this article to optimize your profile. Here are a few quick wins you can implement in those channels:
7. Use visual storytelling
When thinking about social media for venues, consider the fact that you’re selling an event space. What does that mean for you?
It means you’re marketing to planners who want to transform that space to fit their needs. How flexible is it? What are the myriad of events that have all looked totally different that took place in your venue? Telling the story of each event with visuals will help planners with that creative spark they need to envision their event in your venue.
8. Actively blog
Having an active blog is a key component of social media for venues. Especially given that prospective clients want to know more about what it would be like doing business with you and what goes on behind-the-scenes of your space. Taking the content marketing road with a blog gives you a lot of room to show off your venue’s selling points. Start with easy to produce content like event recaps, team or client interviews, and then test out more complex topics.
9. Pin on Pinterest
If you have a backlog of photos of your space, don’t just use them for your website. Use Pinterest to showcase your venue and to inspire planers considering your venue. The more versatility shown in your space, the better. Create a board for social, corporate, or association events. Or, why not try showing your venue during the day versus events hosted at night? There is no shortage of how you can show off your space on Pinterest.
10. Set up a page on LinkedIn
Not every venue hosts just social events. Maybe you host corporate events or medical meetings. Whatever the case may be, get yourself on LinkedIn and connect with your potential clients. Be it financial advisors, CEOs, religious organizations, and others who may need to rent your space in order to host a fundraiser, company dinner or event, or even a holiday party.
11. Create raving advocates across all social channels
It’s no secret– some of the best marketing you’ll ever receive isn’t social media for venues. It’s via word of mouth. The happier your clients are when their event is over, the more likely you are to receive a “Thank You” via social media. And that Thank You can easily lead to another booking. Encourage clients to review you on Yelp or Facebook and share photos from their events.
Be smart, use tools to make your life easier
Even if it still seems overwhelming, we promise you can do this – there’s even an app for that!
A myriad of tools exist to make your life easier even if your venue needs diverse content published across different platforms. Scheduling apps – which also offer summary analytics of their own – such as HubSpot, Hootsuite, or Buffer allow you to schedule posts whenever and wherever needed. They typically have both a free option, which you can use to familiarize yourself with how they work and also a paying option with greater access to services.
In terms of creating content, an app or a website such as Canva can turn a photo into a meme or a header image in just a few clicks. You might even have fun doing it!
At the end of the day, there is no such thing as an overnight success. So, start small and slow if you must, and then grow organically as you figure things out. Take the time to define your brand and voice – and be authentic.
Didn’t someone smart once say “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”? The same applies to any venue worth its salt, as it’s the personality behind it alongside its capacity to adapt to different events and audiences, which will put it on the map.
Social media for venues requires time and effort, but it will pay off in getting your event venue on the map.