Originally published at http://twirp.ca/2016/07/top-5-cant-miss-ideas-rock-social-media-at-events/

Great events connect people and create experiences. It’s no wonder that many (most) not-for-profits and charities make use of events to meet their fundraising goals and to increase awareness of their programs. However, all events are not created equal and success is never a guarantee. Diligent work must be done to ensure your event provides a memorable experience. Even more work must be done to ensure people know about your event, and attend. After all, no one likes an event who’s guest star is a row of empty seats.

Social media is a great place to find support. In fact, Mashable’s 2014 survey and article “10 Things We Learned About Social Media Users’ Charitable Habits” revealed that 51% of regular social media users hear about new social good initiatives on social media first. Of the surveyed social media users, a remarkable number (70.5% LinkedIn, 64.1% Facebook, 58.2% Twitter) had given gifts of over $100 to charitable causes in the past year.

Here are a few quick tips to help you get the most out of your event but supporting it with a solid, engaging social media experience.

Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy

Social media fills the nooks and crannies of our daily lives. We check Twitter on the bus and update Facebook on our lunch hours. People often use social media for only a few minutes at a time in between other engagements. This means  the call-to-action for giving needs to be short and easy. Consider micro-giving as a potential revenue stream for your organization. Use Text-To-Donate campaigns in the lead-up to an event, with the campaign coming to a close at the end of the event itself, where you can announce the total raised!

blog-onstweetThe Art of the Hashtag

Having an event hashtag might seem like social media 101, but you would be surprised by how many events fail to maximize a hashtag’s potential. Hashtags are great for analytics and to pull automated feeds onto a projected screen, but they are also useful for generating conversations. Conversations make people feel like they are adding value. When people feel included in such a way, they become stronger supporters of your cause. Reach out to those using your hashtag and ask them how they are enjoying their experience. You’ll be surprised how much simple conversation with guests via social media can increase engagement and participation–even for those who may not be able to attend the event itself.

Be Fabulous! Be Silly!

Everyone likes to feel special and glamorous, and let’s be honest, most of us enjoy feeling like a kid again from time to time. Increase on-site social media activity at events by incorporating a photo booth or area to let guests have their picture taken. You can share it on the event’s social media channels and send them a copy as well. Instathat is an incredible solution for your on-site photo needs. They arrive with a funky on-site printer that automatically prints all images posted to Instagram with your event hashtag. Photos are pinned to a board where people can then go and collect their souvenirs. The best part is that Instathat (in Halifax, Nova Scotia at least) can also bring along a box of props to really get people energized!

blog-instathatMake it About Them

Social media makes it easy for us to feel like the centre of attention. When using social media to help promote your next event or fundraiser, remember it has to be about THEM! Focus on the experience you are providing to your guests (an inspiring keynote, a delicious meal, a music performance) rather than focusing on the fundraising. Showcase how your guests are helping your cause. Share impact statements or testimonials, encourage your guests to do the same.

Remember This One Word: Community

Your cause is undoubtedly a good one. But don’t forget, there are thousands and thousands of great causes to support! Make use of your social media channels to help promote other organizations with different goals from yours. Showing support for other organizations in your community makes you a team player and also provides an opportunity to share the work of others with your networks. It shows that ultimately, your real focus is on making the world and your community a better place. As far as this writer is concerned, that’s a win-win!

So there you have it. Social media can be one of your greatest allies if you remember that ultimately, it’s about conversation and connecting with our fellow people and communities.