Social Media; Friend or Foe to the Events Industry?

“The problem with quotes on the internet is you can never be certain they’re authentic.”

– Abraham Lincoln 1860

The recent evolution of smart devices is an ever-emerging industry that can sometimes be overwhelming to keep up with, especially the various social media platforms that they encompass, (Zha et al, 2016).

What once was just an online reunion tool for old school friends has now developed in the last 15 years into a connecting service such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, that collectively boast over 2 billion registered accounts that somehow link everyone to everyone, (Shah, 2016).

So how does this effect event managers and why should you care about social media? Food for thought;

  • Rio 2016 Olympics received over 187 million tweets in a space of 3 weeks.
  • The 2016 Grammy Awards received over 1.2 million tweets in one evening.
  • The 2017 Super Bowl received 2.2 million tweets during the 20-minute halftime show.
  • The Wimbledon organisation average sending out 2500 tweets throughout the two-week event.

So, quite simply the answer is… somewhere, somehow your event IS being spoken about online.

Social media now allows for anyone with internet access to express their opinions, feelings and ideas to a whole online global community. This can definitely be used this is an event planners advantage, so why not ensure this is as positive as it can be whilst also reaching the maximum audience, (Xiang et al, 2017).

Most event organisations have recognised the immense impact social media now has on their events; pre, during and post the delivery. This is primarily through online target marketing and promotion throughout the event life cycle, (Sorokina, 2014).

So, how does an event manager ensure social media is their friend and not foe?

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Creating a sign-up page where people can see the location, date, timings and activities is a great way to get your event known, engage peoples interest and get them talking about it to their friends!

Photos, videos, competitions and new activities can all be posted to your timeline to create a buzz around the event.

Don’t forget to allow the “Like” button as the more people who like the event page the bigger the impressions are (people the page has reached).

Encouraging attendees to share their excitement or experience of your event is vital to maximise visibility on social media as well as increasing the scope of the event (Pasanen and Konu, 2016). 

Engaging with potential attendees before the event allows for pre-event feedback which can lead to improvements. A successful example of this is South by Southwest, a festival which allows 30% of the event programme to be chosen by social media users through online polling, making them feel a part of the event before it has even begun, (O’Brien, 2014).

During the event, promote a hashtag wherever possible, this will allow a twitter stream which can be shown on jumbo screens for people to take part in the discussion.

Consider using Facebook to live stream certain parts of the event and post various pictures throughout the event to intrigue people who are not attending.

However, remember to optimise the event for social media sharing! There is no point advertising all of this if there is no Wi-Fi or mobile data, consider setting up Wi-Fi and phone charger points, this will impress your attendees as well as keeping them social media active.

The dreaded hurtful comment somewhere on social media can be every event manager’s nightmare, however bad comments should not always be seen as a negative thing! Honestly!

You may be forgiven for deleting a bad comment, however this displays not much care towards the issue and ultimately doesn’t make it go away. Instead respond to the comment and demonstrate that you want to make things right with the person, then take the issue offline to resolve it and avoid any further repercussions.

In fact, if others see responses to a negative comment this can do wonders for the event brand image!

Finally, just because the event is over doesn’t mean the event is over on social media. Ensure highlights are posted such as favourite images or videos. Ask people to tag themselves in pictures and send out a “thank you” to all who attended.

As well as measuring post event feedback this also engages with future potential attendees and then allows for the event life cycle to start all over again!


To conclude, yes social media does open up an event or the brand to negative issues however by continuously engaging, intriguing and encouraging attendees participation on social media, this allows for more visibility and can widen the scope of future events whilst also addressing the negative issues and therefore resolving them!

So engage and welcome social media as an event manager…

trust me, you don’t want it as your foe.

*Images courtesy of Graphicstock.com and freeimages.co.uk*

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