NEBRA Board Member and Social Media Coordinator Lauren LeClaire has put together this ‘Social Media 101 for Bike Races’ guide for event directors. Having a Social Media presence is a critical part of running successful events in todays marketplace.
Before your event
Is your event on social media? If not… that is step 1!
- Create an account dedicated specifically to your event. Or a few. Pick 1-3 social media platforms, tops. It’s better to be on fewer mediums and manage them well instead of trying to be on every single thing out there. Facebook and Twitter are good places to start. Maybe consider an instagram account once you get the other ones rolling. Start small and expand.
Promote early and promote often.
- It’s never too early to create an account and a hashtag.
- What’s a hashtag? A short, searchable term to allow people to follow your event, and a tool to engage content others are creating about your event (more about this later)
Identify your champions
- Is there someone within the race organization, in your club, a friend or family member with a strong social media following in the bicycling world? Get that person to help you! Have a few key people that will help you share and retweet posts to help you get the ball rolling.
- Are there organizations or other events who have followers that might be relevant to your event? Engage them! Send a message and ask if they wouldn’t mind letting their followers know about your event.
Reveal key information about the event in a creative way
- Keep the hype train rolling and generate some buzz. The key here is having something to say to your followers often! Some examples…
- Keep a countdown
- Post about early bird registration deadlines (for awareness purposes, try not to be push or demanding!)
- Post about registration deadlines
- Got some schwag? Run a contest or do a giveaway
- Use behind the scenes content!
- Create a facebook event page
- Make it easy for people to keep up with event news by creating an event page listing. The convenience of an event page also encourages sharing by attendees.
- A facebook event can also be useful to get the word out about last minute information changes. Will your participants need to know parking info? What about a last minute food truck added to the lineup? Let people know!
- Leverage Facebook’s Call-to-Action to Drive Traffic to Your Registration Page
- You’ve already (hopefully) updated your cover photo to showcase your event, so why not take it a step further by adding a Call-to-Action (CTA) button? Facebook rolled out a CTA button for pages to “bring a business’s most important objective to the forefront of its Facebook presence.” What could be more important than generating event revenue? Use this easy button to direct riders to your registration page.
- Create a unified hashtag for the event. You should be using this hashtag well in advance of your event date. By using an event-specific hashtag, you’ll make it really easy for people to find not only what you’re sharing, but what other people are saying, too! This is also a great way to create and participate in an engaging conversation with attendees and interested parties.
- Keep it short and consistent. Make sure to use the same hashtag consistently!
- Research your hashtag before you commit. Make sure another event or cause isn’t already using your first choice.
- Use BikeReg social media tools! They now support integrating hashtags and other social media elements to work with your event on BikeReg. (more info here: http://support.athletereg.com/hc/en-us/articles/216283303-Social-Media-Promotion)
During your event
During your event, participants are looking for social media accounts to tag and looking for information. Make the most of it! This is where you want to be sharing photos, videos, results, and other updates.
Having a dedicated person to do this during the day is helpful, especially if you want to do any sort of “live” coverage of your event.
After you event
- Celebrate and say thank you!
- Use your social media to acknowledge key people from your event, your volunteers, congratulate riders, and more!
- Ask for feedback
- This can be done either formally (with a survey) or informally (a poll or question via social media) but either way can be an important resource for planning for the following year!
- Frequency of updates
- “How often do I need to update my account?” is a common question, and there is no right or wrong answer here—no best practice set in stone. It simply depends on your audience, their appetite, and what you have to say. There has been some research on this topic that can act as a general guideline in your efforts; but as with most things, it’s best to test and see what works best for you and your audience on each platform.
- One universal fact is that social media status updates don’t last long. The half-life of a tweet, for example, is around 18 minutes for most users. This number isn’t meant to suggest you should post that often, but rather understand that sending an update out doesn’t mean it will remain visible for an appreciable amount of time. Users move on to more recent items in their newsfeeds quite quickly. The takeaway here is to keep an eye on how long your users are engaging and sharing something. More than anything, this is indicative of the quality of your content.
- Again, though, it all depends on what is appropriate for your organization. For example, news organizations or media publications could easily be expected to update multiple-to-many times per day, whereas a clothing retailer would be exhausted by this rhythm and consequently turn off users. You definitely don’t want to talk just for the sake of talking; if you don’t have anything of value to add, don’t post updates just to meet a quota. That said, you will need to make sure your account updates regularly enough to entice users to follow along. You want them to know they could be missing out on some good stuff if they don’t.
- Adjacent content
- It’s a pretty safe bet that if someone is following you they’re interested in what you offer. It’s an even safer bet to say their interests don’t stop there. Share content that’s tangentially relevant to your event or something involving common interests of your audience.
- Not every update has to stem from original ideas of yours; you can bounce off the ideas that other people are already posting. Social media relies on conversations, so jump in and be a part of them.
- Be authentic
- People engage with and spend money with people that they know and trust, so let people know who you are. Honesty and authenticity are key with communicating with your audience successfully
- Be responsible, use common sense
- Behavior in social media is no different than in e-mail, public speech, classroom lecture, conversation with friends, or a poster on a wall. Anything considered inappropriate offline is likely also inappropriate online. When in doubt about whether to share or not, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Proof read, proof read, proof read!
- Consider your audience
- Who is your communication directed towards? Is there language choice you should be mindful of?
- Remember that your readers include potential customers of all ages, races, and genders. Consider that before you publish and make sure you aren’t alienating anyone who may potentially want to attend your event
- Remember the concept of “community”
- Social media provides a place to foster community and conversation. Adding value is good when on topic and in moderation. Positive and negative content are legitimate parts of any conversation. It’s OK to accept the good and bad, but not the ugly.
- The essence of community is the idea that it exists so that you can support others and they, in turn, can support you. You need to learn how to balance personal and professional information, and the important role that transparency plays in building a community.
- Legal responsibilities
- Copyright and fair-use laws
- Always give people proper credit for their work, and make sure you have the right to use something with attribution before you publish.
- Formatting (this goes hand in hand with proof reading!)
- Does your link work? Is all the information correct? Do any photos have correct/necessary attributions? Does it have the proper tags or hashtags?
- Limit hashtags to 1-2 (not 3 or more) on twitter
- Prioritize storytelling over marketing
- In practice, for every five status updates, posts, or tweets, four should be related to storytelling (through blogs, website articles, video, photos, stats, or quotes), while only one should be a direct ask such as a marketing pitch.
- Visuals inspire higher interaction and engagement rates
- Photos uploaded to Facebook get five times the interaction and engagement rates than posted links. Visually compelling photos uploaded to Twitter double retweet rates. This reflects a seismic shift away from text to visual content. A photo or a video with your post can go a long way! But… remember that the text is still important, don’t simply post a photo or a video and expect it to do all of the work for you. Make sure there is always text to accompany it! Don’t just photo or link drop without telling your audience why you think it’s valuable.
- Create a highlight reel from prior events with photos or videos
- Create a simple graphic and use as a visual testimonial with quotes or comments from participants.
- Share behind the scenes content.
- Give a glimpse into this exciting and sometimes chaotic experience by sharing images and videos of the preparations going on.
- Share stories of how you’re pulling everything together and don’t forget, mistakes and challenges happen. Be authentic and share the challenges you face and what steps you took to resolve them. It humanizes your brand and makes you more relatable.
- Posting behind-the-scenes photos and videos is also a great way to generate buzz and boost engagement. It builds an emotional connection by fostering a sense of being an insider to the event, a “glimpse behind the curtain.”
- Venue and surrounding area
- Route to important local sites/attractions
- Closest place to get a good coffee
- Images of event signage and goodie bags
- Fun things to do in the area
Some help with images
Images can be tricky and don’t always cooperate across different mediums. Profile images are different sizes. What’s the difference between a profile image and a cover image? Why won’t the event page photo show correctly? Use the link below as a sizing guide for different social media outlets! A properly sized image will make your social media look professional and well thought out.
Want to get more involved in the social media marketing of your event? Have more specific questions? Need help promoting your event or have content to share via NEBRA social outlets? Contact NEBRA’s social media coordinator, Lauren LeClaire via email at firstname.lastname@example.org