The What and Why of Hashtags

Whenever I talk to people about how Twitter works, the topic of hashtags always pops up. A lot of people are confused about why they are used and what they are for. In this post I’ll be talking about some different uses of hashtags and then read how to use them yourself.

The official definition of a hashtag is this:

“A hashtag is any word or phrase immediately preceded by the # symbol. When you click on a hashtag, you’ll see other Tweets containing the same keyword or topic.”

To put it as simply as possible, by using hashtags, you become part of a larger conversation. By everyone using a particular hashtag when talking about the same thing, they become grouped  together.  This makes it easier to see what everyone is saying about that one topic in one place.

For example, it could be a television show everyone is watching and tweeting about (#xfactor) or  something that’s happening in the news (#royalwedding). Some are preplanned and serve a purpose, others are off the cuff, and serve no purpose other than to to categorise a tweet into a particular topic.  You’ll see examples of this in the trending topics on the left hand column in Twitter.

There are a lot of different ways people use hashtags, here are a few to give you an idea:

Humour
“Challenge” hashtags pop up in the trending topics fairly regularly.  It could be a “replace a word” hashtag such as #RuinANovelWithSocialMedia,   or #replaceamovietitlewithsynod which was floating around Twitter during February’s General Synod. Some of the creations included:

Hashtags are also commonly used at the end of a tweet as a sarcastic or ironic sidenote. For example:

Events
Conferences and events all now use a specific hashtag for people to use. They do this for a couple of reasons.

  1. Using the hashtag makes all tweets about the event incredibly easy to monitor, especially any feedback the organisers need to respond to
  2. It’s a great way for those unable to attend the event to keep track of what’s happening

Campaigns
Charities and organisations will use a hashtag to help spread their message such as #BringBackOurGirls, #NoMorePage3 or #AnotherGift. They can be used to motivate people to donate money (such as a challenge), or just used to combine all tweets about a certain campaign together, so they don’t get mixed up with other ongoing campaigns. Some are about taking action and others are about raising awareness.

Other Examples of hashtag usage:

#illRidewithYou – After the terrorist attacks in Sydney, people used the hashtag #illridewithyou to muslims who didn’t want to travel on public transport alone in case they were harassed or attacked.

#FoxNewsFacts – After a Fox News expert said Birmingham was a no go area for non-muslims, the hashtag #foxnewsfacts was created with some hilarious results as people invented other ‘facts’ from Fox News.

#PizzaOnATrain – thousands of people on twitter were captivated by comedian Chris Ramsey and his plan to get pizza delivered to a train during a journey to Newcastle

#MedicatedAndMighty – people used the hashtag to share photos of themselves holding their medication as well as stories and experiences to fight the stigma of mental illness.

You’ll notice with all these hashtags that there are no spaces in the words, that’s because a hashtag can only include characters and not spaces. Some people capitalise each word to make it easier to read. Also, whilst hashtags can include numbers, it doesn’t allow the use of special characters such as apostrophes, turning Didn’t or I’m into #Didnt and #Im.

 

Got any questions? Let me know in the comments below.
Sign up to get alerted to updates to my blog using the form on the left.

Social networking sites: The ones you should know about

There are many social networking sites available now in the online space. Some you may have heard of and some might be completely foreign to you. Sites like Twitter and Facebook have been around for years, whilst other sites like Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram are much newer. With so much choice in social networking websites, how do you choose which one is right for you or for your church? Below is a little guide to the top few to help you decide.

Facebook
Facebook is the most popular social network in the world with 1.55 billion monthly active users, 65% of them using it daily. The social network was created by Mark Zuckerberg and was original designed as a network for university students. Since 2006 it’s been available to everyone over the age of 13. Whilst there are users of all ages on the site, it now has a reputation as a place for parents and grandparents to keep up with their younger family members’ activities. Whilst the biggest group of users are in the 18-29 age bracket, the percentage of those in the 65+ age bracket is increasing.

The social network lets you post updates in the form of text, video or photo, play games, find and message friends and join groups or pages of particular topics or interests (such a favourite TV show, a public figure or, of course, a church!)

Alongside profiles, Facebook lets you create ‘Pages’ or ‘Groups’. A page is like a public profile that anyone can follow. Companies, products and churches have their own Facebook page. Groups are smaller communities inside Facebook which can either be open for all to join or closed to a select few. A youth group or a youth leader network may create a group to communicate with each other and share content.

Twitter
Through Twitter you can post messages of up to 140 characters. This might not seem like a lot but you’ll be amazed how creative people can be with the character limit they are given. In the ‘tweets’ you can also include images, polls, videos or links. Anyone can see your tweets (unless you specifically mark them as viewable to your approved followers only) and you can view everyone else’s. It’s used in a variety of ways but because of its reputation for being ‘of the moment’, it’s mostly used to record live moments (it’s so quick that a lot of news is reported through Twitter before the major news outlets)

The site has 316 million monthly active users (many fewer than Facebook) and 500 million tweets are sent every day.

Whilst Twitter is easy to use, it does have its own language and style of messaging that’s completely unique to the site.

Pinterest
If you ever created a mood board or pinned inspirations and ideas onto a cork board, this site will be familiar to you. Instead of a real cork board, you have many ‘boards’ to which you can ‘pin’ pictures, recipes, ideas, and more. You can upload them from your computer, take them from websites or ‘re-pin’ from other people’s boards.

You can search through the many themes or just search keywords to find all the things that interest you. It may be craft activities, fashion, architecture, typography and design, flower arranging or just cute cat pictures. People then use the boards to organise the pins they like into their own themes such as ‘Wishlist’, ‘child friendly recipes’ or ‘Wedding ideas’

There are just under 50 million users of Pinterest around the world but because of its focus on craft, recipes and weddings, its user base is mostly female.

Youtube
Youtube is by far the most successful video sharing website with 300 hours of video uploaded every hour (that’s 12.5 days worth of video uploaded every minute). It’s also the second most popular search engine after Google (which owns Youtube) People can upload videos for others to watch, build playlists of favourite videos or comment on other people’s videos. The website is over ten years old and is the most popular site by far for sharing videos. Youtube can also be used for sharing live video as well as being the home of ‘Vloggers’. A vlog is a video-blog featuring a young person talking about their interests such as make up, books or gaming. These ‘Vloggers’ have massive followings, many with over a million subscribers who watch all their videos, transforming them into a new kind of celebrity. Because Youtube offers money to creators of original content if they include advertising on their videos, Vloggers can earn a living through uploading their videos to the site.

Instagram
Instagram is all about sharing photos. The mobile app lets you easily add pre-set filters to your photos (to change the lighting, contrast and colours) without the need for expensive or complicated photo editing programs. You then post the photo with a comment and hashtags for your followers to ‘like’ or comment on. The biggest user group of Instagram is aged 18-29 and it is used to document life in a very visual way. Everything from what they’re eating, to where they are in the world, to who they’re hanging out with. The site has 300 million users and has increased in popularity rapidly in the last few years.

WordPress/Tumblr (Blogging)
Blogging is like an online journal. People use it to comment on everything from current events, their own thoughts and feelings or a recipe they want to share, or even sharing social media advice! People can then share the blogs or comment on them. The most popular standard blogging website is WordPress but another popular blogging site is Tumblr. Whilst the site lets you create simple text posts to your blog, it’s a much more visually focused platform with photos, Gifs (short animated pictures) and videos. Tumblr also attracts a younger audience.

WordPress bloggers generally fit into two categories: Those wanting to share their knowledge on a subject (i.e recipes, poetry, book) or those wanting to comment on a particular subject (i.e faith, politics, film). The blogs are normally around 500-1000 words and are ‘tagged’ with key words which help people to search, which is helpful considering WordPress users produce over 52 million new posts every month.

Other sites you may have heard of:

  • Vine: Lets you share 6 seconds of video (people manage to be incredibly creative with this!)
  • Snapchat: Lets you send friends photos and videos that self-destruct after 10 seconds (Think “Mission Impossible” without the explosions!)
  • Vimeo: Another video sharing site similar to Youtube (Known for its high quality videos, also lets you password protect certain videos)
  • LinkedIn: a professional social networking site for people to find jobs, network with people in similar fields and discuss professional ideas
  • Google+: Put people you follow into differently themed ‘circle’ groups, share content and find content based on your interests (connects to your other Google accounts such as Youtube)
  • Flickr: A photo sharing site which can group photos into albums and lets people view or download the photos
  • Periscope: Share live video broadcasts over the internet to anyone in the world

Using Twitter Polls

There’s a new feature you may have spotted on your Twitter account: the ability to post mini polls on your feed for your followers. Below I’ll explain how to use them and why your church should be using this feature, along with a few suggestions to get you started.

How does it work?
It’s really simple. When you click on the new tweet box, either in the top right hand corner or at the top of the Twitter feed, you’ll now see three options: Media, Location and Poll. Clicking on Media will let you add photos or video. Location will let you pinpoint where in the world you are and finally Poll which lets you create a mini survey. Clicking on this will open an extra section to create your poll. Next thing to do is to write your tweet and choose your poll options before posting the tweet.

Why should you use it?
Followers can engage with just a click of a mouse making it really simple to get involved. Even I have found myself participating in polls on topics I’m not interested in because it’s fun to choose an option and share my opinion.
You may also find more people respond to the tweet as well as voting as they’ll tell you why they voted for that particular category or reply because they didn’t vote due to a third option you hadn’t considered. In short, it’s a really easy and fun way to create engagement as well as a quick way of collecting useful feedback.

How could churches use it?
Here are just a few ideas for you:

  • To help with decision making – Which meal option should be served at an event? What theme should a fun day be? Should the flowers in church be roses or daffodils? Should the new sign outside be blue or green? People will love to feel like they’ve been consulted.
  • Gain insight – do your followers prefer the Old Testament or the New Testament? Pews or chairs? Organ music or Drums? Knowing what your followers like could be really useful.
  • Collect feedback – What did people enjoy most at last Sunday’s service, the music or the prayers? Did people enjoy the new biscuits after the service or prefer the old ones? Find out what people liked about a particular service or an event to help plan for the next one. Plus it’s a useful gauge of how successful an event was.
  • Use it to show your sense of humour. Star Wars or Star Trek? Baked Beans or Peas? Showers or Baths? Have fun with polls and let your church’s personality shine through with a bit of silliness. Why not turn the poll into a true or false game to see how much people know about your church?

Tips

  • Don’t go overboard on polls! Too many and people might get tired of them.
  • Don’t forget to respond to the people that do reply to your poll and make it into a conversation.
  • Track the results, especially for feedback and decision making polls – there’s no point in creating a poll if you’re not interested in what people think. Also: Don’t ask if the sign outside should be green or blue if you’ve been planning all along to paint it red!

How your church can use Instagram

Instagram is one of the fastest growing social networks of all time, so it might be time for your church to look into setting up an account if you haven’t already.

Instagram is a photo sharing app which lets you put interesting colour/lighting filters over photos to make them look like you’ve spent more time than you actually have editing them; they are then posted for your followers to like or comment on. Most Instagram users are between 18-30 years old so it may be the perfect place to engage with the younger half of your congregation. If you have a youth leader or even a youth team, why not hand it over to them to look after?

So what photos should Churches post on Instagram?
Keep on reading for some suggestions to get you started. In the end you need to post what works for you and your church. It’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of posting the same kinds of images you might post on your Facebook or Twitter account, but think carefully about the audience and what they might like to see. Click on the links in the text below to see examples of what I’m talking about.

Behind the Scenes:
• Show the things happening in the church between services and what it takes to prepare for a service (And all the strange props and items collected or created!).
• Take photos from places people don’t normally see such as the view from the sound desk or from high up in the tower.
• Share the other uses the building gets as well as the work to keep the buildings running

People
• Share photos of the different staff and volunteers who make it all happen
• Catch candids of congregation members tucking into a biscuit or greeting people at the entrance
• Introduce us those people baptised or confirmed (Get a great action shot of a baptism in progress!)
• Take photos of laughter, friendship and fellowship
• Share testimonies and stories in creative ways

Fun/Unusual
• Show the fun things your church gets up to during a service or event.
• Share the unusual side of church – what people might not expect a church to be doing or involved in.
• Shine a light on the uniqueness of your church – what makes it so special?

Other tips
• Instagram is the kind of place where you can loosen up, be a bit silly and share your church’s sense of humour
• It’s also a place for the beautiful, emotional and the thought provoking. Always have a play around with the filtering settings to create some really atmospheric shots – they can make bad photos look good!
• Use sites like Canva to create promotional graphics which work on Instagram, perfect for inviting the 18-30’s to particular events and services aimed at them (Though don’t rely too heavily on graphics)
• Ask those from your Church in that age group what they’d like to see on it to get them engaged.
• Use hashtags (similar to Twitter) to categorise your photos, making it easier for people to discover your account. (You can also create a church hashtag for the congregation to use when posting photos they’ve taken at church)


For specific tips on taking photos at church, read my photography tips blog and for more Instagram examples and inspiration, have a look at some of the church accounts mentioned above::

Got any more tips or questions? Let me know in the comments.
Sign up to get alerted to updates to my blog using the form on the left.

Updating your Twitter Settings

To edit your settings on Twitter, click the little square profile picture in the top right hand corner. This will bring down a down down list of options. Simply click on settings to be taken to the page with all the settings on it.

twittersettingsThe first thing you’ll notice from the picture on the left is that there are a lot of options!

I’ll be talking you through the options you need to know about. Some of the options are a little bit advanced so I’ll only briefly mention them.

Account
This is the basics: username, email address, language, time zone etc. At the very bottom of this page is where you can deactivate your account. Whilst it will make you confirm if you definitely want to deactivate your account, once you’ve clicked yes there’s no going back!

Security and Privacy
This is where you can increase the security of your account (how easy it is to log in) as well as how secure it is. You can also choose how private your account is, including setting the ability to hide tweets from the general public and only let approved people see them.

Password
For changing your password

Cards and Shipping
You’ll need to set up a payment card and shipping information if you want to purchase items through Twitter (This is completely optional)

Order History
If you have purchased items through Twitter, this is where they will be listed.

Mobile
Where you can add or edit your mobile number (Used to help verify you when needed)

Email Notifications
Twitter can notify you by email any time someone follows you, replies to one of your tweets, direct messages you and more. If you don’t want to receive these or only want to receive certain notifications, go here.

Web Notifications
Similar to email notifications but received through the web browser

Find Friends
One part of creating an account is the option to find friends using your email contacts list.  If you choose to skip that step, you can come back here and do it at any other time.

Muted Accounts
You can ‘mute‘ users which means they can still read your tweets but their tweets won’t appear in your feed (used for accounts you have to follow but you’re not interested in their tweets, or temporarily whilst a certain account is tweeting heavily about a particular event) The muted accounts tab will let you see all the accounts you have muted and let you make changes to the list.

Blocked Accounts
Blocked users aren’t able to follow you or view your profile while logged into Twitter, their tweets will also not appear in your feed. Similar to muted accounts, here you can edit your blocked account list.

Design
Here are some design options (though only appear on a tweet’s own page)

Apps
If you’re using any apps that need access to Twitter (such as Buffer, Tweetdeck, Periscope, etc) they will be listed here. If you want to revoke access to any of the applications, you can do this with a click of a button

Widgets
The definition of a widget is: an application, or a component of an interface, that enables a user to perform a function or access a service. Twitter widgets are used on websites to display timelines, favourites and lists etc. It’s not something a beginner needs.

Your Twitter Data
This section has some account information such as when you first created your account. There’s not much you can edit here, it’s just data Twitter provides for your information.

Got any questions? Let me know in the comments. For more easy guides to Twitter, visit my social media for beginners page.

The A-Z of setting up a Twitter Account

This post is a step by step guide to creating a new Twitter account. If you’re a completely beginner, hopefully this will help you get started. Do note: Twitter periodically changes it’s sign up procedure so if what you’re seeing on the screen doesn’t match up with my guide – do let me know!

Step One
Visit www.twitter.com. This is what the homepage will look like:

Twitter1

Underneath ‘New to Twitter?’ fill in the form, including your name, a working email address and a strong password. Once you’re ready, click that big yellow button.

Step Two
This is the first page you’ll be taken to. It just confirms the details you have put in. Give it a double check that it is all correct and then move on to the next page by clicking ‘Sign up‘.

Twitter2

Step Three
The next thing Twitter wants you to do is to give them your phone number. As it says on the screen, this will help with security and finding contacts etc. If you’re not comfortable including your phone number you don’t have to put it in. Click Skip (highlighted in red) to move onto the next page.

Twitter3

Step Four
Choose a username. Each account has a username which is completely unique to them. This is how other users can ‘mention’ you in tweets, find your account and more. Because it is unique to you, you may find it takes a few tries to find a username that hasn’t yet been taken. Twitter includes some suggested usernames based on your email address or name.

twitter4

As mentioned on the screen, the username can be changed at any time so don’t worry if you can’t think of anything straight away. Remember: the maximum length of a username is 15 characters.

Step Five
Once you’ve chosen your username, created a password etc, the next step is follow some other Twitter users. Twitter helps you with this by finding some people you may find interesting. The next page gives you a list of categories. Pick the ones that interest you and then click continue.

twitter5

Step Six
After picking your categories, Twitter provides a list of Twitter followers that fit into those categories that it thinks you might like (The number will depend on how many in the list you ticked) Here is where you can either follow them all with a click of a button or go through the suggestions and untick ones which don’t appeal to you.

twitter6

Accounts with a blue tick next to their name means they have been verified by Twitter. Verified accounts prove that they are who they say they are and are generally given to high profile people and organisations.

Step Seven
This is where you choose your profile picture. You can choose any photo you like here, most people choose a photo of themselves. You can either upload one from your computer or use your webcam. Once again you can skip the step if you don’t have a photo you like to hand.

twitter7step4of6

Step Eight
The final step is to link your account with any email accounts you have. By doing this, Twitter will search through your contacts to see if there are any of your contacts with Twitter accounts. If you don’t want to do this, you can click skip (highlighted in red)

twitter8

Step Nine
Once you’ve done this you’ll be taken to your Twitter page which will look a little like this:

twitter home

Twitter will need you to confirm your account as soon as possible. To do this, it will send you a confirmation email to the email address you provided. Make sure you open it and follow the confirmation instructions inside.

And there you have it! That’s how easy it is to set up a Twitter account. For all my other guides to using Twitter, including how to edit your settings and create lists, click here. 

Understanding the Twitter Homepage

There are a lot of components that make up the Twitter Homepage. In this post I’ll be guiding you through everything you need to know about it.

When you log in or have created your account for the first time. It’ll look a little bit like this:

twitter home

(If you haven’t set up your profile/pictures yet, it’ll look a little simpler, but the main blocks are exactly the same)

Home / Notifications / Messages
In the top left hand corner you have these three options:

home1

The home tab is where you currently are on the site (indicated by the blue line underneath) This is your main dashboard where you can see all the tweets for the people following you. Clicking on the Notifications tab will take you to a similar page listing anytime somebody has replied/retweeted/favourited one of your tweets. The Messages tab is where you can find any private messages you have sent or have been sent to you.

Search / Settings / Tweet
In the top right hand corner you have some more options:

home2

The search box lets you search for other users or key words that may be in other tweets. You can also filter the searches to find pictures, videos, the top tweets or all live tweets. Beside the search box is your profile picture. By clicking on it, a drop down list of options appears (see above picture) Here is where you’ll find settings including privacy settings, alerts and where you can change your password etc. The last button is the tweet button. Clicking on this will open up a window inside the webpage for you to create your tweet.

Profile Information
On the left hand side will be this box which displays your profile picture, a second longer picture (known as your header picture) and home3information about your account. This includes how many tweets you have posted, how many people you follow and how many people follow you. If you click on Tweets, this will take you to your stream of tweets. Clicking on Following will take you to a page lists all the people you follow (Where you can easily make adjustments to this list) and Followers shows you a list of all the people following you.

Trending Topics
Underneath the profile information box is a trending topics box. This is a list Twitter creates of the top things people on Twitter are talking about (the topics listed are determined by which location you have set it to look at)

home4

Who to Follow
A box on the right hand side of the page suggests three users at a time you may like to follow. It makes suggestions based on who you already follow.

home5

Twitter Stream
This is the main part of the page. All tweets from users you follow will be displayed here. (Tweets with images or video included will take up more space, like the example underneath)

home6

At the top of the stream in the light blue box you can write tweets (very similar to the create a new tweet box above) and below each tweet are options to reply, retweet, favourite and more. It will also display how many retweets and favourites the tweet has had. Clicking on the tweet will display further information and show any replies the tweet may have had.

If you haven’t set up your Twitter account yet, go back and have a look at my step by step guide. For all my other guides to using Twitter, including how to edit your settings and create lists, click here. 

Scheduling your Posts

Chances are, you’re not going to have the time to spend all hours of the day on social media (big companies have teams of people that cover their social media 24/7) And if you’re looking after the account single-handedly, there will be times when you’re on holiday, or times when you’re too busy to post

You could just post when you can and go quiet when you can’t, but there are ways scheduling posts on both Twitter and Facebook so that you’ll not only have a regular stream of content, but you can also target your audience when they are most likely to be online.

The biggest times of day for audiences on social media are mornings, lunchtime, evenings and weekends, which are generally times when you may not be available to post.

(Do keep an eye on your insights/analytics as the best time of day to post can change depending on the account)

Facebook
When creating a new post on your Facebook page, you will notice a little arrow button beside the Publish button. Clicking on this will open up the option to schedule the post, backdate the post, or save it as a draft. If you choose to schedule, a new window will pop up, letting you pick on which day and at what time your content should be posted.

Once you have scheduled a post, a new box will appear just underneath the text box giving you easy access to view all scheduled posts. Through this link you can edit these posts and change their posting schedule.

Twitter
You can’t currently schedule posts straight from Twitter, but there are still plenty of places to do that. The two most well known are Tweetdeck (a Twitter owned site) and Hootsuite. Click here to find out to use Tweetdeck and how to get the most out of it.

Tweetdeck lets you schedule tweets, including ones with attached photos, and choose exactly what time and date it appears. You can also easily edit scheduled tweets.

To schedule: click the new tweet button in the top left hand corner, you’ll see an option underneath the text box to schedule the tweet, here you can pick the exact time and date. Once you’ve clicked tweet, you will be able to see the tweet in the ‘scheduled tweets’ column and be able to edit and reschedule whenever you need to.

Buffer
Buffer is a website which lets you schedule social media posts over multiple accounts which can save you time. It can also help you in finding the best time of day to post – all you need to do is create your content and Buffer will do the rest. The are also browser extensions – these work on top of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, which means that if you see an article your followers may like, you can add it to the queue of scheduled posts with just a click of a button.

Remember:

  • Choose the times to post carefully, companies have come under fire for scheduled content posting during Nov 11th minute’s silence. The type of content should also match the time you post, for example: content targeted at parents scheduled to post during the school run won’t get as much engagement.
  • Don’t rely completely on scheduled posts – what makes social media great is being ‘in the moment’ and sharing what’s happening live.

Levelling Up in Digital Media and Marketing Skills

Believe it or not, there are ways to improve your digital skills and understanding of social media marketing other than this blog!  If you find yourself wanting to go a step further with your knowledge, here a few free options for you to try:

TED Talks
TED describe themselves on their website asa nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) covering almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.”   Available on the site are plenty of videos including those on the topic of social media. View them in one place here.

BBC Academy
The BBC academy is a great resource of articles, podcasts and videos on all things broadcast, and includes two interesting collections on social media. Online and Journalism.

Codecademy
Coding is how websites, apps and programmes are built. What might look like gobbledygook is actually a whole online language which you can teach yourself. There are various websites which offer coding tutorials but one of the best is Codecademy. You’ll learn things step by step in a very practical and interactive way and soon you’ll be able to not only understand code but use it to build your own website.

Youtube
Youtube is a fantastic resource for learning new skills. There are so many channels, offering tutorials in every topic under the sun. Just search “social media marketing” to find videos and channels offering lessons on the topic. Videos are a great way to learn as they are visual and you can return to them again and again, as well as share them with others. To find videos search for phrases such as ‘how to use Twitter’, ‘learn social media marketing’ and ‘marketing through Facebook’

Udemy
Udemy is a marketplace of tutorials and lessons in all sorts of subjects including social media. Whilst some of the lessons cost, others are free. Have a look at all the current marketing courses here (click all courses rather than featured and then use the filter options down the left to find the free courses. You will also find courses on websites, design and so much more.

For other resources to learn from, including Podcasts, Books and more, visit Hubspot’s list of social media marketing resources.

Marketing an Event on Social Media: The Before, During & After

When marketing a particular event on social media you need to think ahead. The better you plan, the more time you will save. There are three stages to planning social media to advertise an event, the before, during and after:

Before
The first thing you need to do is choose which social media platforms you will use. This will change depending on the nature of the event. For instance: A youth event may be best advertised using Twitter and Instagram, whilst a family event may work best on Facebook.

Secondly, you need to decide on a hashtag to use. You can use hashtags on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This will not only connect all event posts together but will also let other people use it to talk about the event.
Choose a hashtag that is short and easy to remember. Don’t forget to also check that that hashtag isn’t already in use by another organisation as tweets about two different events with the same hashtag will be confusing.

Also – add your hashtag to any design or promotional material so people can be aware of it and be encouraged to use it.

The third part to planning ahead is letting people know it’s happening!
There are many ways you can do this but images will always work best. Design graphics that can be shared easily through social media, keeping to the same colours and branding throughout so that people will quickly connect the graphics to the event. (See my post on resources for designing easy graphics)

Schedule posts regularly leading up to the event on different days and at different times of days to catch different audiences. Work out the earliest date you should be posting and work forward from there. At the beginning, the posts should be more spaced out and as the event gets closer the frequency of posts should increase. For instance: Three months before, two months before, a month before, two-four times a week, every day.

Ideas for things to post:

  • Countdown reminders (Five days to go! Two days to go!)
  • Invitation/Save the date graphics
  • Regular links to your website page or Eventbrite page which has all your event information on it
  • Photos of people planning, getting things ready, setting up the event space
  • Reminders of the hashtag
  • Teasers of what will happen at the event
  • Photos/videos from previous events
  • Videos/messages from people saying what they are looking forward to

During
This is the bit you can’t schedule – but you can still plan ahead.
Typically Twitter is best for sharing regular, live updates. Twitter has a reputation for being the place for live events because of its nature of short, quick posts.

Think about the kinds of things people will be interested in seeing and knowing about. Making a list of all the things to keep an eye out for will keep you focused. Depending on the event it may be photos of people arriving, quotes from a talk/speech or video of people dancing.

Keep an eye on other people talking about the event and share their posts too. You may find that the more you retweet other people, the more they’ll tweet about it. Don’t forget to give people reminders about the hashtag at the event too.

If it’s a conference, why not use a site like Twitterfall which will show a constantly updating wall of tweets from a particular user or hashtag. You can have these showing on a screen to one side so people can see tweets from those attending and using the chosen hashtag. People enjoy spotting their own tweets (though this can be distracting sometimes!)

After
There are still things to be sharing after the event. This could be a selection of the best photos or an edited video from the event. This a great way of sharing what you got up to for the people who couldn’t make it, while also advertising any future events that may be happening. You can even share the next date if you’ve planned ahead.

Another way to look back on the event is to ‘Storify’ it.
Storify is a way of bringing together social media posts into a story of events. You can pull together Tweets, Facebook posts, Youtube videos and more into a timeline of your choosing. It’s a great way of sharing your social media in a easy to follow narrative.

Finally, keep an eye for people Tweeting any comments after the event. Retweet any of the positive messages and thank people for their comments.

Got any more tips or questions? Let me know in the comments.
Sign up to get alerted to updates to my blog using the form on the left.