How to Create a Social Media Team for Your Next Event
Events can be tough. And between the venue, the food, the speakers, and selling tickets, you already have enough to worry about! If you don’t have the time to do the necessary steps to execute a successful social media event plan, you need a social media team!
This article dovetails off of my last post How To Add Social Media to Your Events, where I talked about the 4 resources you need to consider: money, time, technology, and people. People can make a HUGE impact on an event (both positive and negative), so you need to be discerning in who you select to help you out (no matter whether you are hiring people or recruiting volunteers). If you don’t have any control over who your people are, the tips below will still help you create a smooth process.
1. Are They Helping With Promotion, Or Just For Live Activity That Day?
This impacts how often and how clearly you will need to communicate with your team.
If your team is helping to promote for all stages of the event, you will want to provide a clear event strategy (written down!) outlining how social media will help you achieve your goals.
Then you will need to work out who is responsible for what. For example, you may have 1 person creating graphics so they have a consistent look. Or you may have one person writing the content and someone else actually logging into Facebook and scheduling those posts. Or you may have 1 person completely responsible for Facebook and another completely responsible for Twitter. Who will be monitoring for online mentions and responding to inquiries? Who is great at taking interesting photos? Who is great at walking up to strangers at the event and asking for photos and quotes? Who has experience with paid advertising?
Play to the strengths of your team, but make sure they understand they may need to learn new things if you have skill gaps.
A team that is working together long term will need regular communication to make sure that everyone is on the same page. This may mean a meeting or conference call on a monthly or weekly basis. Make sure that your team is aware of the overall marketing efforts (or even include ALL members of your marketing team in these meetings, not just social media).
If you have a team just for event day live posting, you may only need to meet with them closer to the event to outline their duties.
2. Are They Familiar With The Software You May Be Using? If Not, Do You Need To Run An Orientation?
You may be using software like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social to manage your social media. Is there a certain online graphic or image editing software that you like to use for consistent looks? Do you have a video program or app for making photo collages? Does your team know how to use these?
Do they know how to properly use the social media networks that you’re using for your event?
If not, one of your meetings should definitely be a training session so that they know how to use the required software & networks.
Tip: if necessary, it’s better to have people who understand how to use the networks, and train them on the software you are using than vice versa
3. Is It OK To Give Them Passwords To Your Accounts? If Not, What 3rd Party Software Will You Use?
There may be instances where you aren’t allowed to give passwords out for your social media networks. In this instance you have 2 choices: a) provide devices to your team that are already set up/logged in with all of the proper accounts - this isn’t unheard of but is a financial investment you may not be prepared for; or, b) use social media management software like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social - this way your team can each have their own set of credentials to access the software, and you can control the level of access they have while allowing them to post to your networks - all without releasing any passwords.
Tip: social media management software often has the ability for users to queue up posts while another user with higher authorization can approve them - this is a good solution if: you are worried about the skills of your team; the event is controversial; you want to be able to time the posts more specifically, or; you are really concerned about duplicate posts and want to be able to monitor everything before it goes out.
4. Do They Have A Designated Social Media Station At The Event?
The last thing you want is your team sitting in hallways huddled around outlets, or standing in the middle of the crowd ignoring people as they post and giving the impression that they are unfriendly. And even though live posting is seen as a spontaneous from-your-phone-only phenomenon, the truth is that some stuff is easier from a laptop or tablet.
This station is also an ideal place to keep paper copies of any information your team may need to know (i.e. the event schedule or shot list), is a good muster point for team members to meet, and is an ideal place to sit and take breaks or even grab a quick snack.
Create a social media HQ so that your team can work undisturbed by the attendees - it will look more professional too!
5. Do They Need Special Access For Any Areas Of The Venue?
Think about what you want your team to be posting about & what photos you want - if these are taking place in an area where the public is not allowed, you will need to get permission to access those areas of the venue.
For example, I recently live tweeted a fundraiser headlined by Chantal Kreviazuk. We wanted photos taken on the stage looking out into the audience, so the event organizers had to get me a special pass to be able to access the backstage area.
6. Are There Any Restrictions Around What They Can/Can’t Post Regarding The Speakers/Performers?
This is something that should come up when the speaker contracts are negotiated, but sometimes people don’t want their photo/video taken, or it’s only allowed by a professional photographer with a good camera. There may also be topics that your speaker considers off limits - make sure you know these so they can be communicated to your team.
Regarding photos and videos - sometimes the performer is OK but the venue won’t allow it - make sure to check into that. With the Chantal Kreviazuk event I just mentioned, the venue didn’t allow any photos or videos during her performance. However, because we were fundraising, the venue made an exception for myself and the event photographer - our backstage passes also doubled as media badges.
7. Can They Easily Communicate With Each Other During The Event Without Causing Interruptions?
When you have multiple team members, they will need to be able to communicate for a variety of purposes: break times, making sure photos/posts aren’t duplicated, etc. Depending on your event, there may be performances or speakers that would make phone calls a no-no. It’s too easy to miss CC’ing someone on an email or losing track of the latest message. Group texting is always an easy solution. If this is not possible, or someone doesn’t want to give out their phone number, then you will need a messaging app. There are tons out there, but the one that everyone is already likely to have on their phone is the Facebook messenger. Add all of the members to the group and away you go.
8. Do They Have Break Times?
People kind of underestimate how exhausting it is to live post at an event - not just for your device, but for your brain as well. You have to be ‘on’ for the entire event, constantly looking for great photo opportunities, listening for great quotes, thinking of funny or clever things to post. My personal opinion is that everyone should get a 15 minute break for every 2 hours worked (minimum!). If you have a bigger team and the responsibility is spread out, your team might be able to go longer without a break - just make sure all the breaks are staggered.
Remember, someone who is mentally and physically exhausted at the end of an event is unlikely to return next year (especially if they've volunteered their time)!
9. Have You Provided Guidelines Or A General Schedule About What/When To Post? Can They Access It During The Event?
Anyone who has experience live posting an event knows that 3 big things are essential for reducing stress and feeling organized before you step into a venue: a detailed schedule of the event, a recommended shot list, and the social media handles of anyone important that will be tweeted about..
A detailed schedule allows your team to know where they need to be at certain times for the best photo or quote opportunities. A recommended shot list means that they will photograph and post about the things that you think are most important. And having the social media handles prevents them from tagging the wrong accounts or wasting time searching for the right account.
Your team may prefer to have a paper copy (sitting at your social media HQ, for example), but it’s also a good idea to have it saved in a shared folder so that it can easily be accessed while they are on the go.
10. Will Food Or Recognition Be Provided?
Thanking your volunteers publicly is a crucial part of any successful event - after all, you want those people to come back to you next time! Make sure your team is recognized (by name if possible) and get a team photo to share on social media as well.
If there is food at your event, or if your event will be more than 3 hours you *must* feed your team. This can be co-ordinated by them on their breaks, or you could have a team meal either before or after the event. No matter what, water should be provided. If you don’t have a social media station, make sure it’s bottled water so that it can be more easily carried around.