Avoid creating dedicated special event social media accounts

I’m seeing an upsurge in special event social media accounts–especially on Twitter. Every time I see one, I just shake my head.

I can understand the thinking that it’s a helpful way to promote a special event but in most cases, it’s an example of traditional marketing thinking applied to a social space. For some large scale events it may make sense but for the vast majority a special event social media account doesn’t make strategic sense.

Ticket stub for Special Event, shallow DOF

Why would you need a dedicated special event social media accounts?

Why would I follow, for example, a Twitter account set up for a one night special event run by your social profit organization or business? My instinct is that it’s probably going to be primarily pushing out information about the special event and any communication will disappear as soon as the event is finished.

Why would you want me to connect with your business and organization for a short term purpose? Social media is about being social and building relationships. If you’re going to spend time talking to me and establishing a connection, I suggest it’d be better to do so through your main social media accounts. By doing so, you get to connect, converse and build up my commitment to your cause year round. Social communication done right is something that can continually benefit your organization.

And remember that while short term gains are possible in social media, it really is about the long game.

Think of it. If someone is connected only to your evening special event that’s the extent of their connection. They are not likely to be easily transferred to your other social media channels. Chances are you’re not even going to try to move them.

Use your main social media channels

But if you promote your event through your main social media channels, you have an opportunity to continue talking with people and sharing information with them long after the special event. That means you have more opportunities to connect with their online social networks. Your ongoing communication is an excellent opening to enhance your relationship with people. Ideally when you have future events they’ll be there and demonstrate a stronger level of commitment by raising more money or doing more to promote the event. You can also connect them to other events.

More importantly, you’ll have a growing number of supporters that you can help you deliver your mission and strive to achieve your vision. You’ll have more people to share the information that you think more people should know, you’ll have more people to advocate on your behalf and you’ll have more people who will understand the impact you are making.

I’m not talking about just short term or one off events too. I gave the same advice to an annual turkey drive and to a monthly series on social media organized by a small business centre. In both cases, I suggested it was better to use existing social media channels or strategically chosen new ones that speak for the organization that to try to break through the noise of all the competing voices trying to capture people’s attention. My suggestion comes not only from the relationship angle but to give additional content and build up a sense of expertise rather than splitting them amongst multiple accounts.

I still find people who think that since they sent a tweet or posted something on Facebook that the people they want to see it will see it. Well, the fact of the matter is that they might but the odds are against you and they are more likely NOT to see it or even ever see it if it’s a one shot deal. So if you try to use social media like you use e-mail or traditional mail, you’re setting yourself up for a predictable failure. Sure, you can say the event has a social media presence but is that enough especially if it doesn’t enhance your organization’s presence?

I’m also surprised by special event social media accounts because it seems to indicate that you have more time for social media when I still hear folks grappling with finding time to spend enough time on social media to get results. If you find it hard to find enough time to do one Twitter account well, for example, how do you expect to handle more than one? Maybe the special event account being run by a volunteer instead of staff. But then the question becomes, can the volunteer dedicate enough time to have enough of a presence to be noticed on the platform.

How to use social media for special events

Here are some tips on what you can do to promote your special event on social media:

  • Use your existing social media to take advantage of yout existing community and their social networks.
  • Use channel specific tools, like a hashtag on Twitter, to identify when you are posting about your event and importantly–when others are talking about your event or sharing yourposts
  • Don’t be afraid if over the short term your posts are dominated by the event but be sure that it doesn’t totally dominate by continuing to share your other types of content. That helps give you the frequency to be noticed but also gives people a sense of what is communicated normally.
  • Speaking of frequency, repeat, repeat, repeat. Vary it up. Find new different angles or new wording but repeat. How much depends upon the social media but once is never enough just as one print ad or commercial on TV or radio is never enough.

Avoid dedicated accounts except when you can make them work

This post refers to the vast majority of special events but I don’t pretend that it applies carte blanche to all special events. As I mentioned, there are large scale events where it makes sense. Or if you have the resources in time and manpower to pull it off as a social tool and not a push marketing tool.

I’d love to hear if you can share successful examples of dedicated social media for special events.

But even when a dedicated social media tool can be used successfully, I’d suggest that the definition of success should be over the long term. While there may be exceptions, a social media account that is active for a short period of time (even months) is not normally the best strategic choice. If you’re going that direction, I ‘d like to see the account active at a noticeable level throughout the year.