by Adrian Si, ASV | February 14, 2020

Social media is at the center of our lives. Brands can capitalize on that to find more meaningful ways to stand out and connect with consumers. In the event space, that means finding new ways to encourage the sort of organic social presence that resonates with attendees long after events conclude.

Marketers know this, and it's a big reason why brands host events. A study from Aventri and Little Bird Told Media estimates that 96 percent of events use social media to spark brand awareness; but according to FreemanXP, only 47 percent have a dedicated team for managing social media at events.

Merely creating a hashtag or asking people to share your content won't suffice. Genuine event engagement requires brands to leverage social in a way that engages attendees in a deeper and more meaningful manner. Connecting with event attendees on a more personal level will drum up the kind of engagement and interest that stays with them for the long haul. Below are four tips to consider.

1. Authenticity by Design

According to a Mediakix survey, 89 percent of marketers list influencer marketing as one of their best returns on investment. But to see those returns, brands must deploy pointed social strategies -- especially during their events.

Brands can no longer focus solely on selling products. They must go the extra mile to bridge the gap between brands and the influencers who steer social media conversations. By finding the right social influencers, having a message that aligns with their own passions and building authentic connections, brands can gain valuable social media followers.

2. Pick a Cause

A powerful message, such as outreach and fundraising for a worthy cause, can yield more meaningful social engagement. Partner with causes that resonate with your event attendees. Choose your partners wisely and be sure to give those organizations a social and in-person presence at your event to help build rapport with your target audience. Websites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar can help you pick a reputable nonprofit that aligns with your organization. 

3. Recognize, Respond and Repost

There's much to be done during the event but don't let your social media presence slip through the cracks. Brands should take time to interact directly with attendees throughout the conference, including via comments, likes and reposts. Doing so can help companies create more positive relationships with attendees and enable planners to gather real-time event feedback on what is and isn't working. Social Media Marketing World handles this beautifully, with both attendees and speakers adding content and discussion prior to and during events.

4. Diversify Channels and Touchpoints

Many consumers will never see, hear nor experience a particular event. The most engaged brands spread their stories across multiple markets, events and locations so that anyone can be part of the larger conversation. Use specific demographics (such as ages, interests, occupations) to home in on your target audiences and their preferred social channels. Actively encourage engagement with a compelling story, an ongoing dialogue and a multitude of connections. Only then can truly valuable conversations begin.

Adrian Si is the director of marketing strategy at ASV, an event and experiential marketing company based in Torrance, Calif. ASV is a full-service provider that specializes in creating immersive live marketing experiences for B2B and B2C brands.