Integrating social media into your nonprofit’s event can help you engage with your organization’s audiences AND help get better results. Whether your event is hybrid offline/online event or virtual, one way to think through a strategy for events is a simple: Before, During, and After. I queried nonprofit colleagues, asking for their best advice. Here’s a summary of tips, tools, examples, and resources for getting the most of our your nonprofit event with social media. (Here’s a curated link list used to create this post)
The first step is to get organized. This means identifying the goals and KPIs for measuring success of your event. You also want to be sure to set up a measurement system for a landing page where you are collecting RSVPs (and email addresses) and perhaps testing some different messaging. Many nonprofits use EventBrite for this purpose. Be sure to flip through this deck from TechSoupGlobal, EventBrite, and Social Media 4 Nonprofits chocked full of useful nonprofit event management tips. John Haydon also notes that EventBrite can be integrated into your Facebook Brand Page. Depending on the target audience (and your capacity), you might want to promote the event on other social channel Event Pages such as LinkedIN or Facebook
You’ll want to create a Twitter hashtag for the event and make sure it isn’t already being used. Also set up a system in advance so you can track the hashtag. Rowfeeder is terrific for this. Start to recruit your champions, people in your community who can serve as ambassadors for promoting the event. The latter is especially important for virtual events. Be sure to provide them with content they can share about the events such as sample tweets and Facebook status updates. Here’s a great example of material for event ambassadors from last years’s Giving Tuesday.
Some nonprofits are experimenting with a group of tools called “Amplifiers” that allow you sign up your fans and friends to tweet all together at the start of the event. One of the more popular with nonprofits is ThunderClap. Charity:Water used it for its Rwanda Campaign. Says Paull Young from charity:water, “You can set it up in minutes, but it is one-time deal. The positive is you can lock people ahead of a campaign and be sure they will tweet. The negative is it’s a one off shot — you just get one moment for the tweet to go everywhere, as opposed to tweets appearing over time as would happen with more traditional outreach. For our #WorldWaterDay, we did more traditional outreach with my influencers posting throughout the day (especially as many people will follow multiple influencers) — if you follow 10 people who mention #WorldWaterDay, if they all Thunderclap our audience needs to see it right then, if influencers do it throughout the day, there’s more chance of people seeing it.”
You also need to post inviting content on your social channels that builds excitement, anticipation, and engagement about the event. Take the above example from charity:water for World Water Day. You can bet dollars that they are tracking conversions on that call to action link for the event sign up. Remember that you need to promote your event through all your digital and offline channels as appropriate – email, web site, flyers, and other social channels too.
If your event includes a discussion or speaker, you can solicit questions from your audience ahead of the event using a tool like Google Moderator.
You definitely want to be “Live Tweeting” during the event and encouraging participants to do the same. Here’s some tips and best practices for live tweeting. Depending on your event and topics, you may want to project the tweets on a “TwitterWall.” Twitterfall and Visible Tweets are excellent for this purpose. In addition, you want to make sure that you are capturing photos and videos during the live event – as these are not only serve to generate buzz during the live event itself, but also to help you capture and document the after story. Use Instagram for photos (check out this awesome list of 70 + Instagram tools to add some variety to your coverage) and vine for video snippets or brief interviews. If your crowd is more comfortable with email, Maddie Grant suggested setting up a tumblr blog and share the “post by email” option.
Be sure to have physical signage at the event that encourages people to tweet with the event hashtag.
If you integrate social media successfully, your event will generate lots of terrific content to develop the “After Story” that you can post to social channels and use to thank participants. There are different ways to document your event. Shonali Burke has a terrific tip. She uses IFTTT and sets it up to collect photos with the event hashtag into a google document and then add captions and curate the sharing. It is also a good technique to easily capture the digital artifacts from the event to prepare the after story.
You can also use storify to curate tweets, photos, videos, resources, and links during the event. Here’s an excellent example from National Colon Cancer Advocates, members of the Fight Colorectal Cancer community advocacy day in Washington, DC.
Use an “After Action Review” process to debrief what worked and what did not work about your event with your team using your documentation. This will come in handy for the next event you plan.
What are you best tips and tools for integrating social media into nonprofit events?