How to use social media data to power events marketing

Social media should be a cornerstone of any event marketing programme. But are you leveraging content and channels in the right way? Michael Nabarro offers some excellent advice

With so much exciting content to share, event producers have a natural advantage in the social media realm. Effective use of social media should be a cornerstone of any event marketing programme. But are you leveraging content and channels in the right way? Is social media helping you achieve your objectives for attendance and audience mix?

There is no shortage of tools and metrics for measuring traction – qualitative and quantitative data, average retweets per post, demographic data, and hundreds more – but it’s important to choose the ones that answer your unique questions. Here are four tips to get you started.

Establish the impact of social media on attendance and engagement

If you’re investing money on advertising on social media – or just investing your time – you need to measure the return on this investment. Perhaps the best ROI tool for this is Facebook’s conversion pixel, which allows you to track everyone who clicks through to your website on Facebook before buying something or signing up for your mailing list. For all other social channels, Google Analytics offers a convenient (if slightly less simple to set up) solution. After you’ve set up your conversion and ecommerce goals within Google Analytics and assigned each of these a monetary value (Google has lots of help on offer for this), you can then view a breakdown of all your social channels within GA, with realtime data about which social networks make you the most money.

Work out the optimum amount of time to spend on social media

Email marketing is often more effective than social media – which isn’t to say that it’s always a binary either/or decision between the two. Measure the impact of both social media and email to your bottom line, and then divide the amount of time you spend on these channels by how much they are worth to your organisation. As above, Google Analytics is the most effective place to see this information side-by-side. Look at your goal and e-commerce conversion tracking for social media, and measure the value of this alongside the same goals for your email campaigns. MailChimp, dotmailer or any other email campaign delivery system worth its salt will feed back into Google Analytics in this way, enabling you to measure where your time is best spent.

Ask if you’re engaging with the right people, in the right way

Demystify which social metrics to track by linking these more closely to your goals. Define who you want to target, what the purpose of your social channels is, and have a clear idea of what success looks like. Are you trying to attract an attendee segment which has been disengaged in the past? Use Facebook’s demographic data to measure how you’re doing now, and what your audience looks like in terms of geography, vertical, job title and area of interest. Use this information to create tailored content for the audience you want to engage; consider using promoted tweets and posts to target this audience, and measure the change in engagement, click-throughs and conversions over time.

On the other hand, perhaps you’re more interested in creating shareable content that will travel far and wide, showing off what your organisation has on offer to as many people as possible. For this, focus on impact, retweets and influence, measuring how well your content performs in the pre-, during-, and post-event phases. Facebook Insights and Twitter’s Analytics dashboard are both particularly useful for this.

Listen and learn

Social media isn’t just about posting content, it should also be about listening around your brand. Which conversations are you part of? Keywords and search terms are a qualitative form of social data, but are a reliable method of measuring the words and phrases people use to talk about you and your industry. Since the organic search terms in Google Analytics have become increasingly limited in their use – social media could usefully fill this gap.

Social scheduling and analytics service Hootsuite has a useful keywords function for this, whilst BuzzSumo gives you the ability to search the keywords people are using about your industry and look at the topics people are most interested in. Use this information to then inform the SEO on your website as well as the language you use throughout your social posts. Use data like this to examine your social presence and adjust the way you share content with attendees and followers, considering the time and money you spend on social media as you do so.

You may find that the closer you look at your social media data, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn’s analytics tools are too limited for your needs, and you need to explore paid-for analytics tools like Hootsuite Pro. You may also find that, limited by how far your posts can reach organically, targeted Facebook or Twitter advertising would make a significant impact to your social output.

Be sure to look closely at the data before you begin investing money. - Michael Nabarro is co-founder and CEO of Spektrix