For those of you that have been following me via social media over the past two weeks you would’ve noticed my love of tennis. I attended the event twice and when not there I have been following it on television, radio, internet or the Australian Open App, depending upon what I am doing at the time. Throughout this experience I have kept a close eye on how the Australian Open has used social media to further promote engagement around the event and have shared how you might be able to use the lessons learnt at the next event you conduct for your business.
The Australian Open provides many lessons for businesses looking to integrate social media into their upcoming events:
Provide the ability for social sharing with friends at the completion of online sales by adding social sharing buttons as Ticketek has done in the example below.
Promote online conversations around your events using Twitter handles, hash tags, etc. You can do this prior to the event by including it on your event promotional material, in the confirmation email to everyone that has booked into your event and around the event itself, such as on any screens you may have around the venue (e.g. at the entrance to conference rooms, at the beginning and end of presentations), on your event program, etc. This strategy will not only assist you in creating engagement and more buzz around your event, but will also assist those people using your event hashtags to build their community with like-minded people, further holding your event in high esteem for the networking opportunities you are providing. As an added bonus, those that are not able to attend your event will feel that they are still a part of the action.
Share some of those conversations via a live stream on a large screen within your venue as a means of enriching the experience and encouraging other people within your audience to participate in on-line discussions around your event. The extroverts at the events will get a real buzz out of their tweets and/or images appearing up in lights. Free on-line tools such as Visable Tweets (my personal favourite), Tweetviz or Twitterfall (to name a few) will assist you to achieve this.
However, a live stream does have it’s downsides. It may attract spammers and trolls who are attracted by the amount of exposure they could potentially get, particularly if your hashtag is trending. You also won’t have any control over negative, libelous or off-topic tweets that you may be sharing with your event audience. You might choose to use a tool such as HootSuite to source and vet content being shared and manually upload chosen tweets (or use a paid service that allows you to do this).
If you choose to only display “selected conversations”, as seemed to be the case at the Australian Open, just make sure that you change the tweets displaying regularly. That includes sharing a variety of sources, not just the “chosen few” as was the case at the at the Australian Open. Your audience will soon cotton on if you are using this as an additional promotional tool for your sponsors and/or to censor the real on-line views surrounding your event and this could at best disengage your audience and at worse create a massive backlash.
I got a lovely surprise and a kick out of the fact that I gained another badge when I checked-in at the Australian Open.
Make sure you have your event set up on social media platforms such as Facebook and Foursquare to enable people to check-in to your event. Other apps such as Instagram and InstPlace integrate with Foursquare, so don’t overlook that one!
The Dove Supporter’s Studio at the Australian Open provided the opportunity for fans to be photographed with the Dove logo in front of a tennis background and then shared on their Facebook Page for supporters to go in and Like, Comment and/or Share those images to further increase the viral reach of their campaign and the value they got out of sponsoring the event. I would suggest uploading the images every couple of hours throughout the day and giving those people photographed a card or something else to take with them that included instructions outlining the time their images will appear, the URL to visit and a reason they should Like, Comment and/or Share to increase the effectiveness of this strategy. Unfortunately Dove didn’t do this and it was taking between 24-48hrs for Dove to upload images to Facebook after they were taken – most people wouldn’t bother going back to look days after an event. However, they would be quite keen to see and perhaps Like, Comment and/or Share the image on the same day as part of their event sharing experience.
The Australian Open obviously has a larger budget than most small businesses, so they were able to develop an event specific Australian Open App. YouTube was incorporated within the App as part of the “Video Gallery” section, but I felt there could’ve been more social sharing opportunities within this App, such as the ability to follow players on Twitter in the “Players” section, social sharing buttons in their “news” section or the ability to Pin photos to Pinterest in the “Photos” section. All of these could’ve created greater exposure for this content than just those who have downloaded the app.
Developing an event specific app may be something you consider provided you have budget to do so or an alternative may be to have your event included within another app if eligible. Australian Open used the Fango App as part of it’s Channel 7 broadcasting package. This app extended the live experience for those people watching the event at home.
Don’t forget (budget permitting) to provide free Wi-Fi access to encourage on-line discussions without community concerns in regards to their personal data limits. This was problematic at the Australian Open (as is the case at many events), as the demand far outpaced the supply – not a great example for their communication partner when you can’t access the service!
I can’t comment on the Australian Open’s post event social media activities at this stage as the event has not completed at the time of writing this. However, event organisers need to have a plan as to how they will capture and use social media activity arising out of an event to learn from, improve and promote future events. This may include gaining feedback from your audience, making contact with some of the social media champions at your event and gaining their support in the form of testimonials or commitment to play a more formal role in future events and/or using Storify to curate and share the full story around your event.
Social media provides an additional element at events. Whilst it will be used extensively by some and not at all by others, it is becoming more commonplace and expected that you will have a social media presence around your events. Therefore, businesses should be using as many of the channels at their disposal to generate a buzz around the events they are associated with in the lead up, during and after events.
UPDATE: Check out the following posts for a more rounded view on how the Australian Open has used social media to further promote engagement around the event over the years since this original post.
- Social Media At The Australian Open 2015
- Official Australian Open Hashtag 2015 (and other related hashtags)
- Australian Open 2014: Hashtags, Check-ins & Tweets
What other tips do you have for scoring a social media ace at your events? Please share them in the comments below.