Seven steps for managing social media for live events

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Social media has become the main place for people to share their experience of events as they happen.

In 2016, the top 10 most tweeted moments in the UK all occurred during football matches, from fans tweeting about teams losing to the mass celebration of last minute goals.

It’s become second nature for many of us to take to social media to enhance a shared experience. It helps us construct our own experience of the event. It can also be rewarding for brands and creators who get to chat with individuals and experience their genuine, instant reaction to what’s happening.

By focusing on key procedures, processes and people, brands can do their best to ensure the live events they’re involved in are a success. If you’re planning a live event, here are my steps for successful social media amplification.

Procedures

Step 1: Create guidelines (and follow them)

Clear guidelines provide consistency of content and response. Larger events and longer campaigns will have a variety of people or teams working on them – they need to be enforcing the rules fairly and consistently.

Keep a living document of content examples to help other members of the team respond in the moment. Keep the guidelines too vague – such as a simple ‘no swearing’ or ‘no bullying’ – and you’re setting yourself up for trouble. People have varying definitions of bad language and different markers for the differences between debate and hectoring.

If rules aren’t applied consistently, the brand risks looking like it’s taking sides, when really there’s just been a shift change and Erica lets a lot more slide than Jimmy.

Processes

Step 2: Keep an eye on the big picture

It can be difficult to see the campaign (or event) as a whole when you’re in the middle of managing the live social response. Even if you can’t work from an actual social media war room, keep a screen or two free to display the overview of the live chat.

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Depending on the event, you may need to divide roles. For example, if you’re running a live demo, have one member of the team talking to the audience, answering questions in live chat and picking out questions for the presenters to answer, while the team running the demo can focus on creating entertaining and informative content. You may even have another person behind the scenes helping to moderate the live chat.

Step 3: Choose (and use) the right tools for the job

Big campaigns need content management tools that let you moderate and manage content efficiently. Tools that are flexible enough to allow for instant content modification and deletion, but that can be customised to suit the content management needs of the brand (you might want it to support pre-moderation of content, for example).

People

Step 4: Choose your team based on experience, mindset and training

Great community management isn’t just about hiring those with the most experience. It’s about finding the person with relevant experience and the adaptability to handle managing a live experience.

Managing the social media response to a live event – be it a live-stream run by a brand or managing a community of fans responding to a live TV show – is stressful. Community managers and moderators need to be able to cope with split second decision-making and thinking on their feet, without caving under the pressure.

The team also must have a solid understanding of the brand’s values, and the ultimate goal of the campaign. It helps if they have a good understanding, not only of what the brand does, but why its fans are so passionate about it.

Step 5: Foster collaboration in the live events team

Running a live event is draining. It’s like staging a play – you need your team present and invested in making the event a success. People feed off each other’s energies and rely on each other for support and reassurance.

Having the whole team in one location allows them to adapt to evolving situations. Communication becomes simpler as people can use the extra information that body language and tone of voice provides to get a complete picture of the situation.

Don’t isolate the social team – have them working in the same space as the producers, creators and the comms team, all of whom may have ideas on how to change content based on the live response.

Step 6: Keep strong lines of communication

Everyone needs to be in the room, even if they’re not in the same country. If it’s an event with international appeal (the Olympics, for example), establish stable communication in preparation for the event and follow the structure for managing social media globally.

When my teams run Polpeo’s live crisis simulations, they keep in touch throughout the simulation via instant messenger. They share real-time feedback on how the participants are performing, and assess whether or not they need to up the ante.

For live campaigns, the audience may seem happy and engaged when you take a look at the live chat, but how many negative posts have the moderators had to delete? Perhaps it’s the same small group of people chatting, and the majority of viewers just aren’t participating. Without talking to the moderators and the community managers, you can’t get a true picture of the response.

Step 7: Keep the discussion going

Live events are best thought of as the instigating event. Tweeting may spike when a goal is scored, but fans will continue to discuss the match after the final whistle. Once people are interested, it’s likely that some will want to keep the discussion going.

Successful live events keep the discussion going when the event is over. That means keeping a few community managers working after the event is over, even if it’s out of hours.  

When live events are well-managed and moderated, they can be great experiences for brands and fans alike. Hosting a live event can be a brilliant way to engage audiences and generate buzz beyond the brand’s existing fan community.

If live events are your thing, then book yourself a ticket to The Festival of Marketing 2017, hosted in London by Econsultancy and Marketing Week.

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