Getting more event registrations, handling logistics issues, inviting speakers and finding sponsors – there’s a lot on your plate when planning an event.
Amidst this, building a community that you can share your event updates is a task that requires even more time and effort.
But to keep up with the changing nature of events and trends in present times, it’s a given that to drive event engagement, you need to level up your social media game and community building strategy.
Today, social media is an important marketing tool that allows event planners to get more people to discover their events. What’s more, such content allows you to form a community and stay connected with them throughout the year.
While there are multiple social media content formats to create a buzz around your events and boost engagement, one such format is user-generated content.
So to understand how event planners can keep up with these latest trends and make their events more social, we sat down with Michael Kamleitner, Founder & CEO of Walls.io – a user-generated content platform for events – to delve deeper into this topic.
In this piece, we’ll also shed the light on the importance of user-generated content (UGC), the impact of social media content on event conversions and how you can get to know more about your audience through such content.
First, let’s get started by understanding user-generated content.
What really is user-generated content?
As the name suggests, any content created by the users of a platform, website or service is called user-generated content. This content can be in the form of text, audio, images or even videos.
When it comes to events, users can be anyone among your audience. And the content they produce could be in the form of a snapshot of them at your event, their reviews or anything that has been created by them relevant to your event.
While some have been using paid ads to promote their events, user-generated content is emerging as a more organic – and often more authentic – way to do the same.
So, how can you use such user-generated content to generate buzz around your event and level up engagement? The answer is through a virtual social wall.
What is a virtual social wall?
Imagine if you could display what your audience has to say about your event in real-time while your event is ongoing? That’s now possible through the concept of a virtual social wall.
A virtual social wall is a tool that lets you gather and put together any content that your event audience shares on social media channels or directly with you and display it live during the event.
Put simply, you can use a virtual social wall during your virtual or hybrid events to show any texts, images, videos or social media content being shared by your attendees.
The social media content is pulled by any hashtag related to your event, social mention or even keywords. We’ll explain more about this later in this piece.
What’s also worth noting is that with an advanced social wall tool, your attendees can directly post on these social walls without having to log in through their personal social media accounts.
That’s why social walls are a great way to boost engagement even during corporate events.
Not only is this content a smart way to create engagement with your event audience, but also a stepping stone to building a sense of community with them.
Event technology platforms like GEVME allow event planners to easily integrate a social wall during a virtual event. Here’s an example of a social wall integrated at a virtual event powered by Gevme.
Clearly, virtual social walls can help you know what your audience thinks about your events in real-time.
But how can you use social walls to drive event awareness? Let’s find out.
How to increase event awareness with social walls
As an event planner, one of your primary goals is to get the word out about your event and generate more sign-ups. To get this done, social walls can be of great help.
For starters, you can use a hashtag for your event to promote it on social media. Once your audience starts sharing about your event using this hashtag, you can use a social wall tool and embed this content on your website or event registration page.
This in turn would motivate more people to register as they get to see real and genuine examples of other attendees talking about your event.
But that’s not all. Even after your event is over, you can keep using these social walls to tell your audience about your previous events. This is a great way to build trust among your audience and motivate more people to join your community.
While such content can help you make your events more interactive, it’s also necessary that you are able to moderate the content that goes up on these social walls.
So, how do you ensure that the content on your social walls is moderated?
Controlling user-generated content on social walls
It’s possible that not all content may be appropriate for being displayed on a social wall. To avoid this, you can use the social wall dashboard to control the content that gets published.
You can even keep off abusive content on your social walls by using automated tools that detect spam and delete them instantly.
Speaking about how Walls.io allows its clients to moderate the content on their event social walls, Michael says, “We are offering things like automated spam filters, image recognition to block abusive content. We also allow a block list for keywords so that you can keep those things completely off your wall.”
Using social walls thus allows event organisers to make their events highly interactive – paving the way for a two-way conversation.
Does this mean that social walls can help you understand/analyse your event audience better? The answer is it does.
Understanding event audiences through user-generated content
Using social walls allows you to find out who in your audience has been actively participating in your event and talking about it. This data can help you get in touch with them later for further conversations.
Additionally, the data from social walls can be studied to understand which segments of your event content have been able to garner the most interaction or interest among your audience.
This information will help improve your future events.
Furthermore, you can also derive data from your social walls to understand which social media channel your audience used the most to talk about your event. That’s a great way to know which platforms are your audience most likely to be active on — so you can use this channel to promote your events in the future.
Adding value to your sponsors through social walls
Social walls are not only limited to how you can drive event engagement with your audience. It’s also a key tool to provide value to your event sponsors.
Your sponsors are key stakeholders and social walls can be helpful in providing them with some additional value.
This can be done by adding videos, images or even logos of your sponsors on your event social wall. One way to effectively do this is to provide a space on the social wall to your sponsor. You can even consider displaying your sponsor’s logo on the social wall alternatively with other social media posts either throughout the event or during some main event sessions.
Adding your sponsor’s logo or name on the social wall allows more attendees to come to know about your event sponsors. This will, in turn, impress your sponsors as they get more exposure at your event.
How to motivate your attendees to create user-generated content
So you finally decide to set up a social wall at your event, but once it’s up, it can’t be left blank – or even sparsely populated.
Of course, you would want plenty of content to be published on it.
However, as an event organiser, you must keep in mind that not everyone may be comfortable posting about your event from their personal profiles.
It’s also important to keep your virtual social walls close to the main sessions of your event. This is because, during the main sessions, you can ask questions to your attendees related to the topic being discussed in the session. Social walls can then be used to display their answers and this will encourage more people at your event to interact and actively participate.
Also, to get more user-generated content, you can gamify the event experience by organising mini-contests in between your events. For instance, in the case of a virtual team-building event, you can ask your employees to share photos of their workstations and then display them on the social wall. Then, you can select the pictures that are unique and declare a winner on the social wall itself.
Technologies that will make the future of events more social
It’s evident that the event industry has been constantly transforming with the emergence of new technologies.
Immersive technologies like Extended Reality (XR) are bridging the gap between physical and virtual event venues. Recent developments in the metaverse too are shaping how every aspect of event planning will function.
Overall, the rise of such technologies is laying the foundations for making events much more interactive. How event audiences participate will be undergoing significant changes as tools like social walls are also evolving and making events more social.
Watch the full episode below to learn more about making your virtual events more social.