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The definitive social media playbook for conferences, the ICE method
This definitive social media playbook will help your conference engagement, trust the ICE method.
The definitive social media playbook for conferences, the ICE method
A conference is an opportunity for your business to reach new clients, build awareness and workshop elements of your product and service. To maximise the effectiveness of the conference attendance or sponsorship, clear goals should be outlined, and a plan should be created.
A definitive social media playbook for conferences will ensure you’re closer to a genuine return on investment.
Social Media is an essential aspect of conference attendance or sponsorship because it will occur before, during and after the event. The actions outlined below will help to bolster your company’s consideration level for everyone you engage with.
You will be top of mind when your target market is looking to solve a problem you can help with. When reaching out to leads, your communication won’t be as cold, as they’ll recognise your engaging and consistent interaction in the social media realm.
The ICE Playbook
The playbook is will help you plan, interact and then convert more users through engaging social media activity. At Upflowy we have used this strategy to stand out from other companies at Saastr Europa, B2B Rocks Montpellier and Saastr San Mateo, and we’ve got our eyes set on more!
We have created an easy acronym to structure the playbook, I.C.E and it stands for Investigate, Contribute and Engage. Whether you’re attending as an individual and looking to push your personal brand, or sponsoring the conference to raise awareness of your business, this playbook is for you.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, “give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Preparation is pivotal to your success at a conference, you don’t want your entire social feed to be reactive, but rather it should be preemptive. You want your axe to be insanely sharp for your content to cut through your audience’s feed. Setting a target is important, and following that up with the right information helps guide your strategy and process.
Establish a goal or outcome
Attending the conference is an investment. By taking the time out of your day to attend one, you’re giving up vital time to work on your business. The conference should yield results, and therefore your social strategy should reflect this too.
Set a realistic and achievable goal for your socials. Know what outcomes you want.
Do you want likes?
Do you want web traffic?
Do you want impressions and reach?
Map out your social strategy in line with your goals. This will help you to prepare ahead of time so that you are not creating content on the fly. Get into the habit of posting with intention so that all your efforts funnel back into your overall goal.
At Saastr, Upflowy was looking to build our awareness through website traffic. We set a web traffic goal for the week of the conference. We then developed a landing page, tweaked the copy, and promoted elements within our site that helped leads understand what we did (our demo videos, our features pages, and our blog).
After you’ve established this target, you now know what you’re running towards. What’s next?
Authority building is essential, whether within your industry or the event itself. People trust and enjoy when someone has the answer they need.
It instils value. This applies to software for their tech stack or where the rideshare pickup point is.
For an upcoming conference, your social media manager should research the vital information about the event itself:
- Where it is
- When visas or vaccine documents need to be submitted
- Where to collect your I.Ds
- When the setup begins
- What time it starts
- How to get there
- What will the weather be like
This information helps people. For those jetlagged or focused on the activation they’re creating later in the day, this information may not be on their mind. You may help someone submit necessary documentation amid a busy week and bring a sweater or umbrella when they haven’t checked the forecast. In any case, you’ve improved their overall experience.
You’re more top of mind than you were before.
Who is attending the Conference?
This may sound like something a teenager would ask about a Friday night house party, but it is important to ask yourself ‘who is coming?’.
Understanding which businesses are coming is important to your messaging.
You may need to pitch against a competitor. This will impact your messaging to revolve around your unique selling point. What will make your business stand out?
Particular sponsorship or attendees may influence your keyword and google search campaigns for the event. Think about geographical keyword bidding for those attending and will research your company a little more.
The socials of your competitors will help your business understand if they have a big team coming or if they’re hosting any events before or after the conference. This information will help your strategy. You can opt to run interference to distract attendees away or to push your activations, events or critical differences.
If no competitors are in attendance and it’s open season, you may need to offer more generalist messaging to appeal to as many companies as possible.
You want to have many use cases, demos and potentially some company-based marketing strategies in place. This could take the form of a custom demo for a potential client you know will be in attendance.
Leveraging the audience of an influencer normally involves hiring or paying the influencer directly to promote your brand. If you’re aware that an industry influencer is coming, you can tailor particular strategies both on socials and at the event to piggyback their audience.
This is where your community comes into place. Think about those in your network willing to help, whether digitally or at the conference. Reach out in your slack channels, your business’ newsletter and your social connections (Twitter, LinkedIn and more).
Find those who will be attending, and start planning. You can begin by engaging with their content, commenting on their posts or tagging them in your posts. Lifting them up will position your company as offering a helping hand, and will (algorithmically) push your social reach.
Think about creating a group, for example, Australian startups. This will bring more people at the conference allied to your cause, as you will be to theirs.
Make a splash. Turn one like into two. Spark a conversation with an insightful comment, or share the excitement you’re feeling for the conference that’s on the horizon. It’s pivotal to understand the context of the social media platform you’re operating in. Once you tailor the content and commenting to the platform, better results are likely to appear.
Know your social algorithms.
Different social platforms have different sets of rules on how they rank or prioritize content.
- Facebook puts a premium on posts by family and friends vs business posts.
- Twitter values recency and high levels of engagement
- LinkedIn will consider comments far more important than likes or reaction.
While you don’t need to be an expert on algorithms (as these are ever-changing), it is helpful to have some knowledge about it to help you build a smart social strategy.
So what to do?
For Facebook: Try to get your family and friends to share your business’ post, or use your personal account to post about the conference, as this will shoot to the top of your network’s newsfeed.
For Twitter: Keep posting regularly, and don’t be afraid to spice your content up, this medium has the shortest attention span and the shortest character count. Your content will be lost amongst thousands of tweets within minutes, so ask compelling questions, or inspire reactions from your followers.
For LinkedIn: In this more professional setting, encourage people to share their expertise. If the goal is commenting, ask specific questions they can cover, and tag them in the comments!
Treat your network like people
When using a brand account, it’s all the more important to humanize the voice. Have a brand personality and stick to it. People respond to people. It is important to be professional and to add value, but you need a dose of personality to draw people in.
Talk to your connections online as you would talk to them personally. Drive meaningful, valuable conversations and engagement will follow. People may interact with a post for its one-time value, but they will stay and follow for the human connection and flair.
Start liking and commenting
The event or conference is on the horizon, it’s time to start contributing to the conversation. There will be many posts from individuals and businesses about their attendance at the event. These are valuable, and your business account should be liking, reacting and commenting on each.
Your comments should match their energy, mention excitement to see them at the event, and use this primary conversation to start a business relationship. This may not result in immediate signup or a new customer, but at the conference, they’ll be sure to seek you out!
Our Social Media & Community Manager, Cris Victor, went into overdrive in her contribution across all mediums. The Upflowy account went after businesses and influencers who were attending and made sure to consistently comment and like the posts of the event organizers.
Upflowy saw comments and reactions like this:
At the event itself, countless companies were asking us who was running our socials. The effort to engage before the event was worth its weight in gold. The contribution to the conversation is important at three different times:
Before the event:
This allows your company to understand the different businesses going to the conference. After understanding the attendees, you should share their content and help them reach a bigger audience, and they will likely do the same for you. You may even create a like-for-like or share-for-share relationship, pushing your average post engagement higher than before.
This notification would’ve been present for plenty of companies
At the event:
During the event is when there will be the most social content. People will share activations, their learnings, who they’ve met and their overall experience. These conversations are perfect moments to push people to your activations or find an icebreaker to speak to them about the following day.
After the event:
This is where your content marketer and writers will have a field day. They will be able to create content across platforms, to then be shared. If during the conference your company befriended another company, be sure to mention them in your content.
A top 5 list blog will guarantee easy mentions, and it’ll push your content and website traffic to more audiences as you’ve puffed up a new ally.
What content could your team create after a conference that adds value, builds authority, raises your community and heightens awareness?
Be interesting. Do something new. Utilize your uniqueness.
For Upflowy, as an Australian company, we brought Tim Tams. What could you bring?
Conferences are an opportunity to mix business with delight. Not only are countless people ready to help you improve your business, but they’re also hoping to improve your day. Many companies will shell out for major activations, dinners, breakfasts, after-parties, event sponsorship and more! Get involved in as many as possible, and start taking notes for future events, as well as building a steady stream of content.
Create posts for the company AND the team
Your social media calendar should be chockablock with posts in preparation for the event. Not only should the company page be posting about attendance, but so should each attendee from your company.
Ensure you set aside time in the calendars of the attendees from your organization to do their contributions to social media. The social media manager can create a document with the posts they should engage with, as well as create custom posts for each person attending the event. Have it running on rails.
Shout out your attendance to this event from the rooftops. You never know who may see it pop up on their feed, and inspire just enough curiosity for a website search, a friendly event conversation, and maybe even a collaboration/partnership opportunity. Similar to the old adage, ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’, you’ve got to post it for them to notice it!
Tease your audience
Like any great mystery, you don’t want to give away all the details. You want to pique interest. Your social media posting should encourage your followers to visit your booth or meet you on the day.
For Upflowy, we created hype for Saastr San Mateo by hiring a Claw Machine. In the lead up to the event, we made cryptic posts and then drove people towards our activation. Once the event was on, we commented on everything for people to visit our booth. It worked a charm.
As an individual, you may want to stand out with a particular item of clothing, or you could give away some swag. This builds awareness, but be sure to turn it into the content. Take selfies and vlogs with booths, attendees and more!
Take your followers to the Conference
Not everyone will be lucky enough to attend. For your team back home and for your followers on socials, you can take them to the event through posts. With short-form video platforms like Instagram Reels and TikTok, you can do the following posts to bring someone to the event:
- Setting up your booth
- A day at the conference
- Behind the scenes
- Top 5 booths
- Best speakers
- Tour of the event
This content is engaging and can be shared by the organizers or fellow companies you include.
There will be a barrage of engaging content, copy and community around you. People will be vlogging, taking selfies, trying to win competitions, giving away swag and more! Content is wonderful, but collaboration content is next level.
Make sure you have a system for managing a potential new content partnership for future blogs, interviews, podcasts and more. We set up a flow to do just that.
Also, make sure that you create content with the people around you. Interview different booths, video a fun activation, run a competition or compete in one, or share worthwhile photos.
Don’t forget the power of outreach.
It’s easy to say “engage with your audience”, but what if you don’t have an audience to begin with? What if you’re just starting to build your social media presence?
The key here is to actively reach out and expand your network outside your circle. Leave a message in their inbox. Search for relevant trending topics and drop an insightful comment. The more you do outreach, the more likely your brand will be visible.
Social Media is a jungle of content. You need to compete with the thousands of screams for attention. When it comes to events and conferences, if you have the right plan and execute it consistently, you can reap some serious rewards.