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How to Leverage Live Marketing With Social Media Before, During and After Events Some large brands are pioneering marketing strategies blending social media with traditional events. The synergy is powerful while the cost is remarkably manageable.

By Kelly Springs-Kelley

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Social media and event marketing have two things in common: they are effective, intimate and high-impact ways to reach consumers, with the potential to create long-lasting and meaningful relationships.

Several brands are successfully merging the physical nature of live experiences with the social media world. In a recent white paper, Legacy Marketing Partners says "it's up to brand marketers to create compelling brand experiences that blend the two realities as seamlessly as the targets they're trying to reach. And that means integrating social and digital media into the (event) ideation process from square one."

The best news is that social media can be effectively integrated into every aspect of the event activation, with opportunities before, during and after your event. With social media you can maximize event ROI and extend the experience beyond execution to expand your online reach.

Related: 8 Event Marketing Tips From a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show Producer

Before: Create an event that is sharable

Start by creating an event your consumers will want to share. Legacy Marketing Partners goes on to say that "live events that enable consumers to capture and share an exclusive experience, a behind-the-scenes moment, a once-in-a-lifetime encounter or a simple moment of crazy-good fun can transform a one-time event into an ongoing content engine."

Social listening can help determine the best experience to deliver to a target audience. Brands can employ social media listening tools such as Social Mention, Hootsuite, Icerocket or utilize their own social networks to create a dialogue with consumers. By posing questions or facilitating contests, brands can include followers in crafting their next successful brand experience.

Also use this time to determine your audience's social media preferences. Where your audience lives online should influence the ways in which you ask them to share the event experience or interact with your brand on event day and beyond.

Before: Involve influencers to drive pre-event awareness

Social media has given word-of-mouth advertising its grandest pulpit in history. Identifying and incorporating your biggest fans with the biggest online presence into your pre-event awareness efforts will pay huge dividends.

One of the best marketing campaigns to incorporate social media influencers was the Ford Fiesta Movement. Prior to the car entering the market, Ford provided 100 social media influencers with a free Ford Fiesta, sent them on "missions" and asked them to document their experiences through their own social media platforms. About a year later, the Harvard Business Review reported the staggering results.

"Fiesta got 6.5 million YouTube views and 50,000 requests for information about the car — virtually none from people who already had a Ford in the garage. Ford sold 10,000 units in the first six days of sales. The results came at a relatively small cost. The Fiesta Movement is reputed to have cost a small fraction of the typical national TV campaign."

The Fiesta Movement illustrated how social media influencers can make an on-line impact that can translate into real off-line benefits to drive sales or promote an event experience.

During: Provide incentives for consumers to like, follow and share

When you want your consumers to take a desired action, encourage them with rewards. A current AT&T promotion utilizes social media to incentivize campaign participation across multiple touch points at each event.

The #Techgating campaign encourages college football fans to merge technology with tailgating. Each event features an AT&T photo booth in which fans take photos that automatically include the hashtag when shared through social channels. Events include a t-shirt cannon that is "unlocked" when fans collectively send a certain number of #Techgating tweets. In addition, every #Techgating tweet enters fans to win a trip to the 2015 College Football National Championship.

Multiple rewards and multiple participation touch points help AT&T drive immediate event participation while generating campaign awareness onsite and online.

Related: 10 Must-Have Tech Tools for Producing Better Live Events

During: Tie lead generation to social media

Whether accessed through a brand ambassador or a QR code, digital event forms should always include an option for the participant to share the form via social media after submission. For those events that activate at the location of the advertised product or service, contests tied into Facebook check-ins can drive awareness across each attendee's social network.

Even when incorporating social media to amplify lead generation, Andy Meadows, CEO of technology provider 44Doors, reminds companies to always consider the consumer experience first. "This means including a form that can be accessed within Facebook, but not only on Facebook," says Meadows. "Allow someone to fill out the form with their Facebook info, but also let them manually type in the data." Giving attendees choices will give you the best results.

After: Keep your on-line interactions consistent, fun and sharable

Incorporating social media into your event means it's even more important to provide an exceptional online experience to keep new, and existing, followers engaged.

Run regular discounts and loyalty programs through Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Engage followers with contests that incorporate giveaways and provide fun ways to give feedback. Finally, always encourage consumers to share your content. To continue to the conversation, your brand should become a regular part of their lives.

Social media platforms provide markers with 360-degree consumer engagement in which they can hyper-target and influence consumers at every stage of the brand engagement and purchase process. Effectively incorporating social media into your event can transform a one-off experience into an ongoing engagement opportunity with unlimited potential.

Related: Make Live Events Part of Your Marketing

Kelly Springs-Kelley

Director of Marketing for Elevate Event Staffing and A Little Bird US

With diverse expertise in integrated marketing, experiential marketing and journalism, Kelly Springs-Kelley excels in delivering innovative, comprehensive and effective marketing strategies. As director of marketing at Elevate Event Staffing and A Little Bird US, Springs-Kelley works to demonstrate the power of live brand experiences and mobile consumer engagement technology to drive measurable results.

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