When it comes to hosting an event in the food, drink and hospitality industry, social media is the answer to all your dreams.
Not only can you create excitement and a buzz before the event, but the tools available on a number of social media platforms allows you to cover your event on the day, as well as the days and weeks after.
Of course you need to implement a well planned and well thought through social media strategy which involves knowing who your target audience is, what voice you want to get across and which social media platforms are most suitable for your event.
Still with me? I hope so because things are about to get very interesting…
Do you know anyone who isn’t on Facebook? Probably not and with around 32 million Facebook users in the UK, it provides the perfect opportunity to promote your event.
Of course nearly every bar, restaurant, hotel and cafe out there has a Facebook page so you need to ensure your event coverage is better than your competitors. To make it clearer I’ve split the next part into three sections so you know exactly what you need to do before, during and after your event.
First things first, create an event on your page. It’s simple to do. Just click on the ellipsis below your cover photo and from the drop down menu, select the ‘Create Event’ option. You can then enter all your details including event name, location, start time, finish time and description etc.
Once you have created that event, regularly update it with images and any updates such as a new start time. Of course you’ll still regularly be posting on your Facebook page about the event including snaps from previous events or even better, a video! By doing so it will make people want to come to your event because your last one was so good!
One other very clever thing you can do is change your cover photo. Replace your current one with an image specific to your event which states the location and start time etc. For example, if your event is the grand opening of a brand new beer garden, include an image of the garden with all the vital details. Not only will that be the first thing visitors to your page see but also it shows your audience that you’re pro-active with your social media.
Facebook is also one of the best social media platforms out there for paid advertising. Using Facebook’s Ads Manager you are able to target specific age groups, genders and locations, plus much, much more! So, for example, if your cocktail bar in Preston is hosting a new product launch evening, you can create an advert which targets people aged 18-35 in the Preston area who like going out and drinking. Publish that advert and everyone in your specific target market will hear about your event!
During the event
With all that hard work completed it’s now time to get this show on the road.
Whether your event is at lunchtime, late afternoon or in the evening, make sure you have scheduled content in the hours and minutes before including reminders of start times and what people can expect from your event. You could also post images of the setting up process so your followers feel part of the entire day.
Once the event actually starts share and post as many photos and videos as possible. Not only does that make your visitors feel important because their image is on your Facebook page but it is also great content for you and you didn’t even have to do anything!
You should also encourage guests to check-in at your establishment. By doing so, it creates even more awareness about your event and if they say they’re having a great time, others will see it and come and check it out for themselves.
Another great tool to use is Facebook Live. When you go live on Facebook every single person who likes your page will receive a notification. Do ensure however, that there is a specific reason for going live. You don’t want to disappoint people when they tune in to see what’s going on at your bar, restaurant, hotel or cafe. A good example would be if you are making a big announcement or grand unveiling. You want it to look fun so that people who are not attending this event, might do in the future.
The event might be over but that doesn’t mean you can ignore your Facebook page for a week or so. You need to be posting images of the big day and asking people to send in theres. It’s a great way to gain content and build up more interaction surrounding your business.
Your Facebook page should also have a review section. It’s a great idea to encourage your guests to provide their thoughts, so that when others are thinking about attending, they can check out what your previous events have been like.
Just like Facebook, Twitter is a platform that needs to be taken advantage of. With around 20 million daily users in the UK, the opportunities for your business are endless.
Hashtags. Sorry to put it bluntly but they can be a potential goldmine for an event. Not only can you use location specific hashtags such as #Blackpool to reach your target market and create interest in your event but you can also make your own.
One of the main benefits of doing so, is that you can track any activity surrounding your event. It does however, need to be short, snappy, unique and relevant. Say for example you are hosting an Indian night at your restaurant called Davids, your hashtag could be #DavesIndian.
Once your hashtag is in full swing, you need to make sure you post regularly about your event including notices (early bird entry closing), countdown to the big event, features with or announcements about special guests who will be in attendance and any reviews or coverage from previous, similar events.
It is also a good idea to run pre-event competitions. Doing so will increase reach and engagement for both your event and Twitter page but also it shows off your business as one that is generous and in turn may boost ticket sales.
One final thing you can do, like on Facebook, is to change your cover photo to an event-specific image. One extra thing you can do on Twitter however is edit your bio. Still make it clear what your business is but add a sentence about your event including its time and location, as well as your personalised hashtag.
All done? Let the fun begin…
During the event
Twitter is the perfect platform for covering live events because users want to know what’s going on now. Make sure you are posting regularly throughout the day and during your event. If you don’t have time in the actual hours leading up to your big party, use software such as Hootsuite and Buffer to schedule your tweets (Remember to use your hashtag!).
Use a mix of engaging, fun and service based posts. While it is a great opportunity to put out offers your restaurant has because there’s so much traffic to your page, you don’t want to come across all me, me, me. Nobody likes a show off…
Instead RT and like your guests posts, as well as using funny memes and gifs associated with whatever your event is E.g. if you’re hosting a beer tasting night, you could post a meme of five people in a heap on the floor and use the caption, ‘When beer tasting night gets out of hand…”
Of course you should encourage your visitors and employees to tweet during the event but one way to bring all those tweets together is through a Twitter wall. By using a big screen and software such as SocialWall Pro and TweetWall Pro, you’re able to show everytime your username or hashtag has been mentioned. It’s a great way to bring your event community together.
As with Facebook, post as many images and videos of your event as possible. Also make sure you thank everyone for coming. A great way of doing that is quoting people’s tweets that you’ve been mentioned in.
For example, if someone tweets an image of your event and says “Had a great night At Dave’s Indian!” You can press the retweet button but before confirming your retweet, you can add a brief piece of text saying “We’re so happy you had a good time, see you next time!”
It just adds that personal touch which makes a massive difference.
It might not be the first social media network that springs to mind when you’re thinking about promoting and broadcasting an event but the opportunities provided by Snapchat are endless. Well, they do have 11.2 million users after all…
Unlike Facebook and Twitter where you can invite and follow others to increase your following, you need to be a bit more traditional with increasing your Snapchat following.
As well as asking your Facebook and Twitter audiences to add you on Snapchat, you could also add your Snapchat name to your menus and leaflets in the build up to your event. You do however, need to entice them and give them a good reason to add you. That could be anything from great offers on there and promising to show unique, behind-the-scenes content.
One other major thing you can do on Snapchat pre-event is to create your own Snapchat geofilter. If you don’t know how to, you can find everything you need to know in our blog, Why you should be using Snapchat geofilters for your business.
Having a geofilter enables you to design a custom filter which people can use on their snaps in a specific location of your choice. So if your bar is hosting an event one Friday evening, you’d be able to set up a geofilter for your premises and then customers can take snaps of themselves using your personally designed filter!
During the event
As well as before the event, make everyone aware that your geofilter is in place. If your guests are using it and posting to their Snapchat story or sending it to friends, it may encourage them to come down too.
Don’t be content with just that however. Your business also needs to be active on Snapchat, posting shots of the day to your story and unique content which people will want to see i.e. short videos of the chefs hard at work preparing for the event.
You could for example, host a competition and get visitors to send you a snap of their time at the event, with the best one receiving a free meal for two.
You may have generated loads of new followers on Snapchat before and during your event, so now you need to remain active. Post images to your story of the event in the days after but also post images and videos on a daily basis.
If you don’t, your followers will simply disappear…
Finally but certainly not least is Instagram which not only had 14 million monthly active users in the UK last year, but it’s also the ideal platform for those in the food, drink and hospitality industry to show off great imagery.
Like on Twitter, you can create your own event-based hashtag for Instagram. It would be good practice to use the same one as on Twitter so it becomes familiar with your audience.
As with the other networks, you should have a content strategy for the lead up to the event and for during it. That could be anything from selling tickets, to information about the day and images of your staff preparing for the event.
During the event
Instagram stories are a must for events. Save your high quality imagery for your Instagram profile and instead, post a series of images and videos of the days events to your story. That way, if the quality isn’t as good it doesn’t matter as much because those images disappear after 24 hours.
On any merchandise or posters/banners at your event encourage people to use your hashtag and to tag your business in their stories and posts. Doing so will create a massive buzz around your event and others will check you out.
You can also go live on Instagram. Similarly to Facebook, everyone who follows you will receive a notification once you are live, but make sure it’s something worthwhile because you don’t want to bore them when they’ve gone to the trouble of watching your live video.
As well as the Live option, you can get quite creative on Instagram with various options such as boomerang, rewind and hands-free. Using such tools makes your content different and engaging. For example, if you were pouring a spirit from a bottle into a glass, you could use the rewind tool and it would show the liquid sucking back up from the glass and into the bottle. Simple but effective.
You can find a full guide to Instagram stories by clicking here.
Once the event is over, this is your chance to post your high quality images of the day onto your businesses Instagram profile. You can also repost images which guests have tagged you in, whilst you should take time to comment on their photos or at least like them.
Also take time to add videos to your story of the clear up operation because it will make your followers feel part of the business and if they feel that, they could be a customer for life!
So there you have it, our complete guide to using social media to ensure your next event is a massive success. Try it out for yourself and let us know how it goes!