Recently I attended a SMCKC lunch titled “Making a Splash on Social During Large-Scale Events.” It was a panel Q&A with Derek Byrne of Visit KC, Rachel Kephart of KC Film (a division of Visit KC), and John Kreicbergs of Propaganda3. While I work with retailers on digital promotions for their events, they aren’t the type of large-scale events that were discussed by the panel. But I found that a lot of what they advised to the audience can be applied to small-scale events and social strategy in general.
For example, all three panelists discussed the importance of keeping attendees informed before, during, and after the event. Derek Byrne manages social media for all of the college basketball tournament games that take place in Kansas City in March. For these games, Visit KC is on social media all year long, announcing games when they are scheduled, helping people plan their trips, and giving them sightseeing ideas outside of the games if they’re coming out of town to visit. John Kreicbergs works on events like Boulevardia, a craft beer and music festival, and Planet Comic Con. He’s worked on both events for many years and regularly reminds himself to keep the content fresh and as informative as possible because he can’t assume everyone who is attending goes every year.
These are both important ideas to keep in mind with your social strategy. Overinform your customers about your store(s). This doesn’t mean that you have to post/tweet all day long, but make sure you don’t post something informative once and assume all of your followers and customers saw. Do you cut and wrap the meat in your meat department/deli? You might think this is common knowledge to your customers but a quick reminder on social media, and even on your website and in emails, is always a good reminder.
Crafting social content with the customer’s point of view in mind was a common theme to the advice the panelists gave. Derek and John reiterated that you should craft content with the marketing message you want to get across, of course. But more importantly, think about the experience your customer is having. Think about what they want and need from you. Rachel also reminded the audience not to be afraid to target content to specific audiences. Every social post doesn’t have to be everything to everyone. Do you want to send out a message to young families looking for quick meal solutions? Don’t be afraid to create that content that talks directly to them and their needs every now and then.
The panelists also discussed photography. Despite the fact that they all work for large companies with access to professional photographers for these large-scale events, they recommend using smartphones to share a lot of the visual content. They want their audiences to feel like they are at the event and not viewing some glossy photo that looks more like a magazine than what it actually looked like in real life. This is always a good idea when you’re showing your audience what they will experience at your store. It’s fine to use beauty shots of food and professionally designed graphics for programs and events. But be sure to show that human side too. Snapping a quick photo of a display, an employee, a big crowd at an event can be just as, if not more, effective at getting an emotional response from your customer than a professional photo or graphic will.
Another thing that you might not expect from these large-scale events is that all three panelists still encourage organic reach on social media. They understand the need for paid advertisements on social. But as Derek mentioned, they focus on spending smarter instead of spending more.
Big company vs. small company, large-scale event vs. small-scale event, the strategies are actually all the same. Sure, they’re implemented in slightly different ways based on the company or the event, but focusing on what your audience needs to hear, making social content that’s informative and experiential, and focusing on the best ways to spend advertising dollars is going to be the same whether you are a small local grocery store or a huge beer and musical festival in a large midwest city.