8 Social Media Event Marketing Trends That Matter Most in 2019

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2018 was a year of crazy social media changes.

Instagram hit the one-billion user mark.

Facebook continues to suffer from growing distrust.

LinkedIn became a new content machine with 100,000+ new articles published per week.

Brands got bolder. Brand got more authentic.

Customers got tired of fake news and privacy issues.

Marketing lingo doesn’t cut it anymore.

Organic social is dying off.

Everyone talks video.

Visual-first mentality is replacing a text-first approach.

Holy moly.

And then there is this problem with trust.

The point of social media is to be social, right?

Most brands are missing the trick here and are still broadcasting their messages like crazy.

It’s like they have taken out the “social” out of social media for years now as Mark Schaefer describes in his book “The Content Code”.

The smart people have realized that it takes authenticity and intimate relationships to spark engagement.

It’s not enough trying to be authentic, you gotta step away from a one-way conversation and be there personally.

And then there is the constant pressure for event marketers to reaching new attendees.

According to the Eventbrite Pulse report, 64% see this as the biggest challenge and 48% foresee it being a problem in 2019.

But what to do?

The simple answer, get educated and be aware of the social media changes that are happening and how they will impact our industry.

Ultimately, you want to make sure you’re reaching the right audience, at the right time and in the most cost effective way.

At the same time, you want to turn visitors not only into registrants, but loyal and engaged attendees that come back.

And despite the challenges, social media can still help.

In fact, 75% of event professionals say that social media is still the most effective way to promote their events, according to Event Manager Blog.

Let’s cut the fluff and help you carry out your 2019 social media event marketing with purpose.

Trend #1: Regain Trust or Bust

Fyre Festival was an event marketing nightmare with influencers’ trust hitting rock bottom.

In the wake of the Facebook Congressional hearing and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, people are demanding brands to safeguard people’s security & privacy, be transparent, and accurate.

But not only the Facebook platform suffered lost trust crisis

Twitter and Instagram were in the center of criticism due to the large number of bots and fake accounts.

Fake news all over the internet.

Who wants fake news? No one.

It’s shocking to hear that only 40% of audiences trust social media brands according to the Social Media Trust Barometer.

If so many people have lost their trust in social media, could our privilege to engage with our audiences soon be at risk?

We hope not.

Brands need to regain trust of its users by providing honest, authentic, accurate & valuable content during the entire event lifecycle.

Here are some actions points you should take:

  1. Communicate in a consistent, personal brand voice

  2. Make social media fun and bring in humour and entertainment

  3. Post unique & original ideas, don’t settle for the same old posts

  4. Respond to as many comments & questions as you can

  5. Be transparent

  6. Be accountable

  7. Don’t advertise or sell

Trend #2: Stay Human

Why do so many marketers running social media campaigns struggle to truly connect with people on social media?

According to Bryan Kramer in an interview with Social Media Examiner:

  • Fear of not being on social media

  • Fear of saying the wrong things

  • Fear of what engaging means for your brand

Putting a real, human face to a brand is key in building trust and loyalty.

But it’s hard.

Personal branding gives your event and brand a human element that will naturally connect customers and make the brand more relatable.

Event marketers who can foster their human element within their team will have a real advantage over those who hide behind a logo.

Look at Dave Gerhard (aka DG) at Drift or Britta Schellenberg of Brightcove.

Both run marketing and events for their brands and both regularly use their personal brand on social media to build trust.  

DG constantly creates video on LinkedIn and it takes just one post about Drift conference to get huge engagement.

Watch this:

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The people behind the brand are becoming the brand and that is what attracts audiences.

Britta Schellenberg creates LinkedIn content as well as often shows off swag for the event or interviews speakers to get people excited.

Download the Guide: Event Marketing on LinkedIn - Become A Kickass Content Creator

Here are some actions points you should take:

  • Promote the personal brand of the event owner, business owner or the high-level leader of the organization

  • Give your attendees an up-close view of the team behind the scenes can strengthen your brand reputation

  • Share tweets from your personal account instead of your brand or at least combine both

  • Start building your own personal brand today. Seriously. We need people like you to share your insights, knowledge, and views

Trend #3: Be Transparent

This goes hand in hand with building trust and showing a human side to your business.

The way you handle the situation when something’s going wrong before, during or after your event is key.

Don’t sweep any flaws under the corporate rug. Instead, provide satisfactory answers to your attendees’ questions.

They’re not stupid and expect to be informed beyond at every stage of the event.

A study by Sprout Social shows that 81% of people believe businesses have a responsibility to be transparent when posting on social media.

Can you believe that this number is higher than the standards they set for politicians, friends/family and themselves?

Here’s how to ensure you stay fully transparent:

  1. Admit your mistakes

  2. Give honest and timely responses to attendee questions

  3. Share any changes and how your event incorporates company values

  4. Share who in your team is working on producing  the event. Who are the faces behind the event?

  5. What’s the carbon footprint of the event?

  6. How does your event support sustainability

Remember, people want to know much more about your brand than the end-product itself.

Trend #4: Brands Can No Longer Avoid Social Ads

Facebook ads, display ads and retargeting were the top 3 most successful paid social media campaigns followed by LinkedIn and Instagram ads, according to the Pulse Report 2019.

So it’s clear that we’re already seeing a ton of event marketers jumping on board with paid social media.

Does this mean that the space will get more competitive and it will be more expensive to advertise?  

Maybe.

To counteract this, your social media efforts should not only be based on ad money, but also in time invested for creativity.

You can’t just create any old ad and have it work.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Boost your top performing organic content via social ads

  • Invest an equal amount of time into creating amazing ads

  • Take time to really understand the specifics of each different platform to get most from it

  • Set a budget limit and decide how it will be spent and where

  • Use geo-targeting to get a lower cost per interaction and higher reach

  • Drive registrations by using retargeting strategies in your marketing (Retargeting is often cheaper that acquiring cold leads through other sources)

Trend #5: Video, everyone talks about Video Marketing

And this for a good reason.

No one wants to read through paragraphs of text.

OK. OK. We’re also thriving to get better at this.

Talk the talk and walk the walk they say.

But the idea of watching a quick video on your mobile and getting the gist of your idea in seconds appeals to a large audience.

In fact, Cisco predicts by end of this year 80 percent of the world’s internet traffic will be video and digital video ad spending will reach $50.6 billion by 2022.

Whether you use video on your event website, in your facebook event marketing campaign or in emails, videos boost engagement and drive registrations.

Thanks to tools like Animoto, it’s never been easier for event marketers to create stunning video content in less time.

But even your attendees can use the power of their smartphones and tablets to create great looking footage and user generated content.

And then there is live-streaming, of course.

No matter what your budget looks like, you should definitely prioritise video and visual content in general over written content.

Here’s how you can make the most of video:

  • Use Facebook Live, because that’s where your fans are already.

  • Use technology that allows you to stream to different platforms at the same time

  • Capture as many testimonials from your speakers, exhibitors and attendees and leverage that content across social to get people excited

Trend #6: Use Stories

Stories will become a primary way to share content on social media. We anticipate that it will overtake the News Feed.

Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp are increasingly growing their stories format.

Source: Buffer 2019

Source: Buffer 2019

But what does that mean for event marketers?

  • Shoot behind the scenes footage -  Surely, there is a lot more going on in preparation for your event than the event itself. The planning process, the venue visit, or the final preparations before the event opens its doors make great stories to share on said channels.

  • Deliver offers or drive to registration page - Stories aren’t just about sharing content, but driving users to take call-to-actions easily. For example, Instagram allows for tagging and linking and creates a sense of urgency for your potential attendees.

  • Teach them something: Why not get your speakers involved to share some quick tips before or after the event? Have a Q&A session that sparks the interest of your audience to meet

  • Encourage attendees, speakers & staff to use stories: As your event is in progress, convince your guests to take pictures and film footage and incorporate that footage within their own stories on their personal Instagram accounts.

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Doing this, they will indirectly promote your event to their own audiences.

  • Provide a sneak peak: Launching a new product? Instagram can be your secret little helper building up the hype. Create a slideshow with photos of the product from different angles and create a sense of curiosity as your followers begin theorising about the product and effectively, sharing the content.

Trend #7: Personalized Experiences Powered by AI

From an attendee point of view, getting information when and where needed is crucial.

EventBots (Chatbots) can integrate with your event registration software and interact with the attendees via text (SMS) or other messaging app offering to answer any burning questions pre, during, or after the event.

This is a trend we see across many industries, not just the events industry.

In fact, younger generations are the biggest adaptors of chatbot-based customer experiences.

According to Huffington Post, 60% of the millennial population already uses chatbots and 71% of Millennials have implied that they would like to try using one.

Trend #8: The Rise of Groups and Private Communities

The trend for brands and companies is moving from public broadcasting to engaging in more intimate communities.

In 2019, you need to create a strategy so that you’re always growing the size of your community.  

And Facebook Groups are the hot spot for engagement and a place to focus social media efforts in 2019.

In fact, Facebook has been launching new Facebook Group Features in the beginning of 2018 and also kicked off its first Facebook Communities Summit a couple of months earlier.

Tip: Create an events page for your conference to allow attendees to engage in conversations before the conference. Drive event registrations from Facebook by creating an events page where attendees can engage pre event. Allow attendees to sign up and register

People crave a sense of belonging with their respective tribes and want to participate in meaningful groups and conversations.

What can you do as an event marketer?

  • Create and manage niche groups to foster deeper relationships with your audience

  • Facebook Groups can help you drive registrations

  • Generate transparent and meaningful engagement by

Conclusion

Social media event marketing trends in 2019 are all catered to building meaningful relationships and giving the customer the best experience. Event marketers understand their role in navigating and guiding people whilst putting them in charge. Event marketers need to rebuild trust on social media by being transparent & open. If they manage this, they can set themselves up for success and outperform the competition.